I fell in love with The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for a Happier Life in the introduction. (I love when that happens.)
The Joy Diet isn’t about eating or exercising, despite the title. Author Martha Beck (if you haven’t read her other books, you may know her from Oprah) uses the term “diet” in reference to a way of living, how we think and behave. About dieting, she says:
“[If] you’re looking for ways to shed that potbelly or firm your buttocks, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. As far as I’m concerned, your belly and buttocks are absolutely magnificent right now, not that I want you to send me photographs.”
Who can not love an author who thinks her (the reader’s) butt and belly look magnificent? Maybe she was just sucking up, I don’t know, but she had my attention. A few paragraphs later, she had my complete and eternal adoration:
“No matter what complex thing you’re learning, from playing the piano to solving calculus equations, the trick is to break the necessary actions down into trivial-seeming behaviors, then practice these behaviors until you can do each one half-asleep, while watching television with one eye and your children with the other.”
At the time I first read this book, which was early last year, I had just spent two of the best years of my life (so far!) realizing and learning to practice incremental changes. It’s the “Tippy Toe” part of The Tippy Toe Diet, and several of the ten behaviors described are ones I had already adopted for myself. What this book did for me was to remind me of the importance of each and every one, and in several cases, to enlighten me as to why exactly they had worked. It also made me wish I had known about this book when it was first published in 2003.
The Joy Diet’s ten “menu items”, as listed in the book’s jacket:
• Nothing: Do nothing for fifteen minutes a day. Stop mindlessly chasing goals and figure out which goals are worth going after.
• Truth: Create a moment of truth to help you unmask what you’re hiding—from others and from yourself.
• Desire: Identify, articulate, and explore at least one of your heart’s desires—and learn how to let yourself want what you want.
• Creativity: Learn six new ways to develop at least one new idea to help you obtain your heart’s desire.
• Risk: Take one baby step toward reaching your goal. The only rule is it has to scare the pants off you.
• Treats: Give yourself a treat for every risk you take and two treats just because you’re you. No exceptions. No excuses.
• Play: Take a moment to remember your real life’s work and differentiate it from the games you play to achieve it. Then play wholeheartedly.
• Laughter: Laugh at least thirty times a day. Props encouraged.
• Connection: Use your Joy Diet skills to interact with someone who matters to you.
• Feasting: Enjoy at least three square feasts a day, with or without food
It’s all fairly simple and fundamental advice, presented in Martha Beck’s funny and uniquely down-to-earth (and sometimes appropriately snarky!) way. The Joy Diet may not be a “diet book” (it’s a life book), and I hadn’t read the book during my weight loss phase, almost every behavior discussed is an area I addressed in order to get to a 100-pound loss. Now that I’ve read the book, I’m using all of these behaviors as I try to transition to the world of the self-employed. I don’t know how much progress I’m making, but I’m enjoying the experience immensely, and that’s the only way to fly!
Do you recognize any of these behaviors among those you’ve incorporated into your healthier way of living? See any that intrigue you? Motivate you?
The link below takes you to my Amazon store, if you’re so inclined (and thank you if you are), but I suspect you can find this book at most bookstores or even your local libary. Whatever your choice, I do hope you’ll find it somewhere and enjoy it as much as I did.