Your Happiness 401(k): Are You Budgeting Enough Joy in Your Life?

In my twenties I hated routine—but that’s because I confused it for stagnancy.

Anything that whiffed of repetition was automatically on my shit list: schedules, affirmations, habits, recurring obligations, things that put a vise on my freedom. I never wanted to live feeling beholden to a calendar, letting it rule my days more than I did.

To me, routines were for the weak: people who weren’t disciplined enough to get it done without force. When I’d get on interviews and they’d ask me about my morning routine, I’d laugh: every day is a new adventure, I’d say!

And, to be fair, it was. My goal in life has always been to out-fun everyone else. (Especially the self-righteous curmudgeons who had taken all of the “right” steps and were still miserable.) That’s what I wanted for my time on earth—radical pleasure—and in my twenties, I definitely think I did a pretty good job of that.

But, when I reached my thirties, something changed: I realized that there was a whole other form of pleasure I'd never recognized. A form I had never known, because I was too busy saying “no” to routine and all of her fetters.

Turns out?

What I didn’t know then is that routine can be incredibly nourishing…so long as the things you are doing actually are.

THERE’S THE RUB.

It’s a subtle difference, but an important one, and the difference is this:

Routine versus ritual.

Routines are the things you do because you’re supposed to.

Rituals are the things you do because they nourish you.

Today, some of my favorite moments in the day are my daily rituals: the three hours I spend writing every morning, the 30 minutes of exercise I do before I shower, the gin & soda we have on the back deck at sunset, the hour I spend reading before bed each night. They have helped me structure my pleasure in a way that I didn’t have before.

They help me prioritize myself.

I think of this as my Happiness 401(k): tiny increments of “savings” that I’m budgeting toward a happier, more joyful life.

The habits expert, James Clear, often talks about the compounding effect of the things you do each day. “If you can get 1 percent better each day, you’ll end up with results that are nearly 37 times better after one year.” And conversely, the opposite is true. (Which is terrifying. 😱 )

I’ve been hip on this 1% idea ever since my literary agent, Lisa, told me to read James’ book—she’s his literary agent, too, those smartie pants hooligans. And as soon as I did, years ago now, I realized something that I had never quite understood before:

Doing something consistently and habitually does not make you a prisoner to your life: it gives you the freedom to live your life without constantly worrying that you are doing a bad job.

There is something SO FREEING in the act of building rituals that support you, rather than constantly letting your life be consumed by everyone else’s agenda.

The only problem is: where do you start? How do you find the time? How can you step off the hamster wheel? How can you know which rituals to employ? How do you get yourself organized? How do you plan for joy? HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME? (Did I mention that??? lol.) How can you create a system for yourself? How can you know which things to quit? How can you be sure you’ll actually stick to it? And, how can you get the courage to make a big change to begin with?

The answer: Live With Intention.

It’s a brilliant system that my business partner, Jamie, teaches because she is the QUEEN of learning how to live a life full of pleasure—especially when you’ve historically been a total shit show.

Her ethos?

Be so fiercely committed to the things you care about and the vision of the life you want that you don’t have the time, energy, or need to compare yourself to other people. Honoring commitments to yourself is how you build self-love.

Her system is Atomics Habits for pleasure.

Building your life hour-by-hour in a way that nourishes you instead of drains you.

Using the things that give you joy as the building blocks for your entire existence.

…And—as a wild and wonderful byproduct—being way more fucking successful as a result.

I LOVE JAMIE.

And you will, too. She’s fucking amazing—and so is her work.

Enrollment for Live With Intention closes tonight—so if you need to work on building your own Happiness 401(k)?

Let’s get you budgeting for a MUCH more pleasure-filled 2022 by the weekend.

XOXO,

Ash

P.S. These are affiliate links—I'll receive a comish if you buy! 🌟 But, legit, I'd be telling you about this even if Jamie didn't hook me up. SHE'S A GENIUS.

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