Finding Your Joy in Skincare and Beyond, Part 2
In our first installment of the series, Jude Chao talked about how to find (or maybe recapture) joy in your skincare routine. Here, she explores how to spark joy beyond skincare.
In the first installment of this series, I talked about skincare as self-care, and how to maintain proper perspective so that self-care doesn’t turn into a source of unnecessary stress and anxiety. Even I don’t use skincare as my sole (or primary) method of self-care, however, so in this installment, let’s talk about finding ways to spark more joy in your life beyond your skincare routine.
The purpose of self-care
Life is life. All of us — no matter who we are, no matter how much we have or how outwardly great our lives look — struggle at some point. It’s inevitable because not everything is in our control. The purpose of finding ways to spark more joy in our lives isn’t to live in a magical happy fairyland all the time — that’s just not possible for anyone.
The point is to identify factors that are in our control so that we can maximize our happiness and enjoyment of this brief time we have in this life, and to minimize unnecessary and self-imposed sources of stress or unhappiness, again, so that we can make the most of whatever time we have. Self-care isn’t just face masks and bubble baths. It’s a whole way of living that demonstrates to ourselves that we choose to be responsible for our happiness and lives.
Before we go any further, I want to discuss one particular concern that I’ve heard in many conversations around self-care: people feeling “selfish” for choosing to increase the amount of time they spend in active pursuit of joy in their lives.
Life is short. It really, really is. Sometimes we have no idea how short it really can be. And as adults, we are the only ones we can depend on to make our lives what they could be — it isn’t anyone else’s job to take care of us, and it isn’t anyone else’s job to make us happy. It’s entirely in our own hands to shape the lives that we lead. We are solely responsible for the quality of our lives.
That means that, within reason, we should not feel guilty or selfish for making choices that will improve our enjoyment of our own lives or that will widen the scope of the lives we lead. Add to that the fact that we can’t give the best of ourselves to others in the first place if we’re unhappy in our own lives, and you can see that choosing to improve our own lives in whatever ways we can is not a selfish act. It’s taking responsibility for ourselves instead of expecting others to help us. It’s also growing ourselves so that when we give to others, we can give more.
So don’t feel guilty about valuing joy in our own life. Instead, look at it as a way to increase your value to the world around you, by making yourself a happier and more positive force for good!
Hobbies as self-care
For people who aren’t interested in skincare, it can sound bizarre to hear someone say that skincare is a hobby. For those of us that consider skincare a hobby, however, it makes total sense. We’re not just engaged in the act of buying things and displaying them, right? That’s not what makes skincare a hobby. Instead, for many of us, it’s the act of actively researching and reading about skincare — product reviews, ingredient studies, everyday tips, and best practices. Beyond that, there’s also sharing what we know with the rest of the skincare community.
In other words, the act of learning and growing and sharing questions and knowledge with like-minded people is what makes skincare a rewarding hobby, not the consumerist aspect of it.
Personally, I’ve found the most happiness and joy in other hobbies that similarly encourage learning and practice and growth. I get to have fun developing my skills in something that I think is cool, feel proud of my accomplishments as I grow, and connect with other people who share my interests. For me, those hobbies are cooking, nutrition, yoga, gardening, creeping on cats, and acquiring knowledge about specific adorable marsupials native to Australia. For you, the list may be shorter or longer or completely different. But what remains the same is enjoying the journey for the sake of it. Hobbies that provide you with that sense of accomplishment spark lots and lots of joy and often lead to amazing new connections with others.
Is there something you’ve “always wanted to do”? Learn a new language, maybe, or write a novel or sew or knit adorable kangaroo pouches to aid the animals rescued from the Australian wildfires? What’s stopping you? The first step is often the hardest, but after the initial growth, you’ll likely find it gets easier to make the time and space for it. And the more you grow, the more joy you’ll find. Just remember, as with skincare, be mindful of any point at which it stops bringing enjoyment and begins bringing stress.
Surrounding yourself with what makes you happy
Let’s go back to the idea that you are the only person in control of your life and that therefore you are the only person responsible for your happiness. That may sound scary, but it is in fact incredibly empowering to realize.
One way to put this in practice is to surround yourself as much as you can with things that make you smile. I started doing this consciously sometime last year. I’ve found the everyday effects of this practice very helpful, especially during my lower moments. For me, what it looks like is this: quokka pictures and other art I love on my walls, gifts from friends on every surface, cat prints on my oven mitts, and friends I enjoy and with whom I can enjoy fun activities like going to cat cafes.
For you, it may look different. Not everyone will enjoy cat butt refrigerator magnets, shark-themed décor, or grinning quokkas on the wall. What should remain the same is that your home and your space can serve as a physical reminder of what brings you happiness. That way, you are literally surrounded by happiness — it’s a way of tangibly bringing more positivity into your world.
Minimizing what doesn’t make you happy
The other side of this coin is, of course, reducing the negativity and friction in your world.
Want to know the two things that bring me the most joy on a daily and weekly basis? My robot vacuum and my new electric spin scrubber brush (for scrubbing the tub and shower). That is because of all housework, I have always loathed vacuuming and scrubbing the tub. My hatred of these two tasks was a constant source of friction and stress, because as much as I hate doing those things, I also would rather have a clean floor and tub. So for me, investing in two tools that take 90% of the work out of the tasks has brought a startling amount of joy. Again, your sources of joy may be completely different than mine, but I do feel that investing in ways to minimize friction in your life can bring huge rewards.
This last and final piece of advice will be very personal and may be difficult to hear, and that is: You should examine the people in your life to find sources of friction and stress, too.
I’m not going to tell you what to do in your personal lives. I’m not going to tell you to cut this person out or quit that job, because that is not my place and not my life. All that I want to tell you is that it is very common to find that certain relationships or life circumstances have become emotional vortexes, sucking out your energy and your positivity and leaving you drained. And when that is the case, we owe it to ourselves to consider what we can do about it.
Like I said, we are the only ones responsible for our lives, and our lives are short and may be shorter than we expect. The big question to ask yourself when faced with a relationship or situation that has become a source of negativity is whether this is what you want your life to look like. When a relationship or circumstance is taking so much from you that you don’t have enough left to give to other aspects of your life, is that something you’re willing to choose to continue?
That doesn’t mean that the other person or circumstance (job, geographical situation, whatever) is bad. Most people and most situations aren’t inherently bad. It just means that something isn’t a fit for you and the life you want to lead. If you want to increase the joy in your life and get more meaning and happiness out of your life, you need to sometimes consider how you can minimize the problems caused by these kinds of mismatches. It may not take drastic action — simply expressing and sticking to clearer or stricter boundaries might be the solution. But it will take serious reflection and courage.
What’s the reward of making small and large changes to your life to spark more joy? More control of your life and what you get out of it — and in today’s world, that can be a huge deal. It might just start with skincare, but consciously choosing to arrange your life in a way that makes you happier can totally transform it.
How do you spark joy in your life, and how do you reduce stress and unhappiness? Tell us your story in the comments!