This week, Jill and Jeff talk about joy and the importance of finding the things which bring joy into your life.
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Who is Jill Harris?
Jill is a nurse and health coach that specializes in educating patients on kidney stone prevention. For more than 20 years she’s helped patients understand that kidney stones can be prevented with the right treatment plan. It’s one thing to be told to lower oxalate or drink more water, but HOW do you do it? That’s where she comes in. Through the educational resources at kidneystonediet.com, stone formers can learn everything they need to know to significantly lower new stone risk.
Who is Jeff Sarris?
Jeff’s co-founder of SPYR, a branding agency based out of Chicago, where he and his business partner Dave help awesome people like Jill create online platforms that make an impact. He’s also a certified health coach, Executive Producer of the Netflix documentary Minimalism, and host of the Starting Now podcast.
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Jeff Sarris: Welcome back to the Kidney Stone Diet podcast, the show about reducing your kidney stone risk and living your best life. I’m your host and fellow student, Jeff Sarris.
Jill Harris: And I’m Jill Harris, your kidney stone prevention nurse.
Jeff Sarris: Right before we jumped on, we were having a great conversation, so we’re actually going to talk a little bit more about that right here and just perspective on things and having positive outlooks and whatnot. Did you want to sort of jump back into what we’re talking about?
Jill Harris: Look, you know, lifestyle isn’t just about low salt, low sugar. It’s not just about making these dietary goals. Lifestyle is about–this is what Jeff and I because we’re so similar this way where our perspective is very similar–lifestyle is about, and this is why the tagline says living your best life, it’s also about having, “What’s going on up here?” Now, unless you have organic depression, anxiety, I mean, unless you have emotional illness, this is totally separate thing. I’m just talking the average, Jeff and Jill kind of person, to have the right perspective on life is so incredibly helpful.
The Obstacle is the Way
And I talk about this a lot in the Kidney Stone Prevention Course and the accountability calls. There’s information that’s thrown at you, there’s obstacles thrown at you, every single day. So this isn’t about obstacles don’t come up because they do every day. Even though we’re always surprised they come up, I don’t know why, but they come up every single day. And so you can either say, “Oh, shoot! Here’s another obstacle! Oh, my God! Why me?” You can keep saying these things or you can say, “Well, isn’t this interesting? How am I going to deal with this?” And we were both just saying it’s not like we’re laughing all day long, every day, week after week, year after year, but it’s about when things do go awry, what is your attitude, first and foremost? Because if you have a crappy attitude, it’s very difficult to gather up tools and fix the, you know, problem at hand, right?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, to pursue that, to work through that obstacle. It reminds me there’s sort of a–I don’t know if a parable is what you would call it–but it was something from like, sort of Zen and whatnot, where the King, or whatever, puts a big boulder in front of the entryway into the city. One person shows up and tries to move it, and leave just disgusted. The next person shows up, they bring in another person, they try to move it, and they can’t do it. And then you see someone come along, they go into the woods, they find the biggest stick they can get, and they make a lever out of it, and start to move that boulder. Under the boulder is a bag of coins, gold coins. And that’s just a message that how the obstacle is the way to move through life and where that obstacle lies in front of you. It’s a very stoic perspective.
And following and going through that obstacle and finding your way, that is the path. It’s less about turning away and maybe looking at that as a negative and more being like, “Oh, this is where I’m going. This is where I’m following through.” And what we were talking about beforehand, we were talking about just having that positive outlook. For me, that is at the core. Things, like you said, they go awry, and, again, this isn’t like, clinical depression or anything, but for just everyday things that happen, I’ve always looked at it as ‘it always works out.’
Sometimes it’s a longer timeline, who knows how long we’ll be going through certain things that are obstacles that appear in our way, but having that outlook, you start to see the good parts of whatever’s going on and the other positives. If we dwell on the negatives, it’s so hard to get out of that space when it is under our control to get out of. It’s so easy just to focus on, “Okay, this huge obstacle’s in my way. This this happened to me,” or whatever it is versus, “Okay, this has happened. Now what? What’s next? Where are we going?”
Taking Responsibility for “You” Is Important
Jill Harris: My first thing after I’m crying in my bed and pissed and all the things, after all that, and I’m like, “All right, what am I supposed to learn from this? What’s my takeaway here? What could I have done to avoid this? What could I have done?” First of all, I always take responsibility first. I’m not saying that outside forces don’t play into something, but even if there is a negative outside force, how did I bring that into my life, number one? I am ultimately responsible for all the things that happened to me. Yes, you get ill, and stuff does happen, but you know what I’m saying. I think that my greatest growth has come from my worst experiences.
Is this a miracle that I’m saying this is this, like, “Oh my God, I’ve never heard this.” No, I mean, if you think about it, people, honestly, it’s like, the hardest things that you have gone through have been your biggest eye openers. It just has and it’s the things that you learn the most from. So, you can’t always have good and you can’t always have bad. You need the mix of it because, otherwise, we’d never be able to appreciate one or the other. But honest to god, going through all my cancer stuff, I learned so much about myself. More importantly, I learned about, you know, boundaries I want in my life. I learned about what I don’t want in my life going forward, what I do want more of in my life, from very simple things to stop dusting candles, light them, to, you know, I don’t want this person in my life anymore, because it’s bringing me negative energy.
Those are all important decisions on living your best life, which is the tagline for this YouTube channel. Because many times we are making unhealthy lifestyle choices because of the negativity that’s going on in our life. So, instead of controlling it or trying to figure out a way, number one, if you can’t do it on your own, to ask for help, whatever, you know, often we just we don’t want to deal with it. And we want to deal with the negativity or the things that are going on in our life by eating Doritos, so there’s a lot of stuffing down emotions with food.
Listen, people, it’s not just about giving somebody a pamphlet and say, “Here do this.” It’s about “Why are they not doing that? Why are they not doing that?” Because food is used as a crutch. It’s used as a coping skill. It’s used for numbing out. It’s used for temporary feeling good until you eat so much of something, then you feel shame and guilt and go down that rabbit hole. Listen, if it was just about me giving you a pamphlet, you wouldn’t need me. I would be so bored after 23 years. What would I talk about? It’s about human nature. How do we deal with bad things? Where do we get our coping skills from?
How do we get healthy coping skills in our tool belt to get through whether it’s healthy lifestyle, a bad relationship, a terrible job, whatever it is, what can you learn from the experience? What can you learn to do differently? It’s all of that. That’s what makes this so interesting to me. And then also connecting to all of you, because that’s what we’re here for, to connect with one another, honestly. So, without that connection, life is super hard, right? It’s all of that, Jeff, it’s so much. It’s so big, right? We often forget this.
How Do You Want to Spend Your Time?
Jeff Sarris: Yeah and when bad things do happen, it helps, maybe, nudge us to take a breath, and get perspective on all of that. And, like you said, you found the things that you you do want to spend your time on. The sort of concept of time, like actual time itself has always fascinated me, but first it was clocks. I’ve always really liked various clocks. And there’s just something that I’ve been drawn to, but I didn’t realize, I think it’s more just time itself that I find fascinating. The clock is a visual representation of it–that when we do look at, “Okay, how am I spending my time?”
Maybe it’s even like a job or whatever, where it’s like, “This is the bulk of my life, but not where I want to be not what I want to be doing.” Then maybe it’s a moment to just reflect and say, “Okay, how can I find the good, either in my situation or find a situation that provides more of what I need in my life?” We have so much more agency over things than I think we usually realize, that it’s important to give yourself space to contemplate and to consider like where we are and like how we want to be living.
Jill Harris: I think that’s I think that’s brilliant, first of all, and I think about those kinds of things lots that’s why I love you so much. It also can be something simple like this: if somebody were to look at my life and see how much that Finn and I, my little dog, sit on the porch and look out at the neighborhood–Jeff and I were just talking about this–they’d be like, “She’s wasting a lot of time.” Now, I’ve thought about this. I love sitting on my stoop. I love it. It makes me happy. It’s a time in my day in between calls and my course where I can just take a few breaths, enjoy the nice weather for three days in Chicago, and just be with my neighborhood.
I talk to everybody that goes by I feel like I’m the mayor. “Hi! Boo Bah, Vince is there. He says, ‘Hi!'” And I’ve asked myself, “Jill, are you happy sitting on this porch?” I question the things that I do. So, I’m like, “Am I wasting time? Is this silly? How am I going to feel like this on my deathbed? Am I going to think, boy, that was wasteful?” Nope, I’m not, because it brings me joy. I always check in with myself, if I’m doing something that doesn’t bring me joy-unless it’s my taxes, and I got to do it-I’m not doing it. I’m almost 60 years old and I’m going to do things that bring me joy, and if that’s sitting on my stoop with my little dog, and watching my neighborhood go by, I’m doing that.
I’m also not going to do things that don’t bring me joy. Because, as you said, time is fascinating and it goes like that. It just goes like that. It’s amazing to me, too. It’s like, you know, we joke, “Oh, my God, it’s already Friday. Where’d the time go?” But, people, where is the time going? How do you want to spend yours? Is it sitting on a stoop, like me? Don’t let anyone tell you not to do that, if that brings you joy, but check in with yourself. And make sure you’re doing the things that bring you joy. Don’t be a martyr, don’t be doing things because nobody knows how to do it better. Teach them that. Delegate. Do things that bring you joy and don’t do things that don’t. Time is an amazing, fascinating thing. I feel the same way as you.
Jeff Sarris: I think that’s such an important point, too, is it’s for us. A lot of times we’ll get caught up in thinking maybe, “Oh, this isn’t how I’m supposed to be spending my time,” but there truly is no ‘supposed to be doing.’ We are carving this out. It’s our own path. It’s our own journey. And if sitting on the porch is amazing to you, but someone else is like, “That would just drive me nuts. I didn’t want to do that.” Neither of you are right. You’re right for yourselves because that isn’t what someone else wants to do. They don’t want to live, maybe, in a cabin in the woods in Montana, but to someone else, that is their ultimate dream and perfect life. It’s important to realize that we each have our own path. We each have our own proclivities, and not to judge ourselves over something that we want and really find value in if that doesn’t jive with someone else.
Jill Harris: A hundred percent! Nobody should judge what brings you joy. I think that’s really important. I’ve learned that in my life. That was an important lesson, to feel less than about doing something that brought me joy. Don’t judge my joy. I’m gonna make that T shirt. Do not judge my joy. So, I’m really sensitive to that. When somebody tells me that something that may not bring me joy–I’m so happy that somebody’s finding pieces of joy throughout their day, because life is so short. If you could grab moments of joy, and know that, and appreciate it, and go, “Man, this is my joy jam,” then that’s friggin’ amazing because life is so short! Just don’t sit there all day long and not feel joy.
You want to sit there all day long and feel joy? That’s great, but check in with yourself. Are you spending your life in enough ways that brings you enough joy? You’re can have joy every day? Filled with joy, that’s not possible, but are you grabbing your moments of it? Get it, pick it, find it. It’s your responsibility to find it, cultivate it, and do it. That’s your responsibility. Don’t blame your husband. Don’t blame your wife. Don’t blame your sister. Don’t blame your boss. If you’re not having joy in your life, get to steppin’. That’s your responsibility. I often find people they’re blaming that they don’t have joy. Go get it.
My father always taught me, “If you want something, you better go get it because no one’s knocking on your door, Jill.” I heard that my whole life that irritated the hell out of me, but he’s right. No one is knocking on my door. So, if I want something, like 5000 subscribers on YouTube, I ask for it every week in my Facebook group. I asked for it here on these videos. I asked for it in my newsletter and God bless America, we got it, right? And thank you for everyone that did that! But it’s true. You don’t get things. You have to work hard. You have to–and that means joy, too. So if your life doesn’t have joy, and you’re not clinically or medically, you know, have emotional issues, if you’re just the average person like Jeff and I, please go get some because it’s wonderful to have joy in your life.
I have Jeff. He brings me joy. I love him and I am thrilled to be a business partner with him. I have all these people in my life that bring me different things that cultivate my personality, and bring me love and joy. And I have everybody here on YouTube, they bring me love and joy. On Facebook, all my social media brings me love and joy. “Jill, you’re so nice doing all that!” I get way more than I’m giving out. I get joy, so I think it’s really important. Why do I have this silly eight pound dog? He brings me joy. Do the things–even though they’re a pain in the ass at any given time–do the things that mostly bring you joy. I don’t know, Jeff, we weren’t going to do a hoozy, but it’s long enough, this video.
Jeff Sarris: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s an important topic because it’s not kidney stone specific, but it’s an important topic just for life, just in general, and something that we definitely think about and talk about, like on our own. So, I think this is a perfect little nugget to throw in into the stream of the rest of the kidney stone stuff because it’s just so important. The big thing is find who you want to be and be that person for yourself, not for anyone else, and just be you. What are you doing?
Jill Harris: Oh my god, that makes me so happy! I mean, listen, I can’t fake who I am. What you see here is exactly who I am. What you see what Jeff is exactly. And again, why do we have our own businesses? Because we want to be exactly who we are and we don’t want anyone telling us differently. When you can live your life, from your essence, you are putting yourself out in the world–and, listen, lots of times, not everyone loves me. So, when you put yourself out in the world to and really shine who you are, not everyone’s loving you, but that’s okay because you love yourself enough that you really don’t care.
You have to show up. You have to show up, you have to show up, you. Not your mother telling you who to be, not your husband telling you, not anybody telling you who to be, not a magazine telling you who to be. You have to understand–and that takes a lot of self reflection. Who am I? What brings me joy? How do I want to show up? “Jill, why do you always wear athletic clothes?” Because I’m comfortable in it. It’s part of my image. If I wear my gym suits all the time, first of all, I gotta go to the gym because I’m wearing my outfit, I’m wearing my gear. So it’s real easy for me to go to the gym, because I’m already suited up, but it’s part of my identity.
I am truly who I am. All of me, right? And so so many of my patients, they tell me, “Look, I’m eating because my husband, he wants me to be this but I just can’t. I’m not living my true life.” Same thing, what a man says that his wife, or a man and a man being together, whoever you are. Show up. You show up. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should be, who you should be, how you should be. Absolutely not. It’s so very important because then joy is a lot easier to find because you’re coming from your beautiful heart. And your beautiful heart is so good enough and then you just get to spread joy. It’s friggin’ amazing, people, take my word for it, I promise you. It’s magical!
Jeff Sarris: And the more joy you’re finding for yourself, the more you’re giving to others, like reflecting joy out. So it can sound selfish to like, focus on you, but it’s sort of like that airplane thing, “Put the mask on yourself first, so you can help someone else.” We have to be in a good spot and then we can give so much back to the people around us and people who need that. To have that person to, not in a grandiose way, but to like lead them to see like, “Oh, they are very joyous.” I hesitate to use word ‘happy’ because happiness and joy are two different things. Joy is a moment, joy is something you can create. It’s just a little different, but you can see someone who’s joyous most of the time you interact with them and that rubs off. It makes a difference in other people’s lives.
Jill Harris: It does! And then I’m going to go off on this, too, a little bit. It’s going to be a longer video, so just hang on. The other thing: so when I’m walking around the streets, I wave. I swear to God, it makes me feel so happy to spread joy because nobody looks at–especially in a city, nobody’s looking in your eyes. No one’s smiling. Somebody walked with me the other day and they’re like, “Why does everyone say ‘hi’ to you?” I said, “First of all, I sit on my porch a lot and they know me from that. And even if they don’t want to know me, they do because I talk to them.” She’s like, “But when we go to the grocery store, they’re always talking to you,” because I’m putting myself out there first! You think if I didn’t do what I do, people would talk to me. No! They would ignore me like everyone ignores each other. I don’t believe in that.
When we are out in the world, we should spread a little joy if we can, because you get it back, of course, but it just feels good to make somebody smile. That’s very important to me. Now, here’s the other thing. Ladies, listen, up! “Jill, that’s a little sexist!” I’m just telling you what my experience is, there is not a day goes by not one day, in all these years, that I’m not talking to somebody that says, “I can’t meal prep. I can’t take care of my things. I can’t get to the gym. I’m taking care of my whole family.” Ladies, stop being a martyr. This is what we do. We’re giving, and giving, and giving, and then we walk around bitter and angry. Like this, that that’s how we feel inside. We can’t do that anymore.
“But, Jill, how am I going to find the time when everybody needs something?” Delegate it out, and don’t do all the things you think you’re supposed to be doing. Something has to give because if you’re not healthy, and health begins here, if you’re not happy, and–yes, I agree with Jeff, if you’re not content, I like that feeling that a lot better. More content than not joyful, feeling like I love giving, because I’m giving to myself first. That is, again, my responsibility. That’s nobody else’s responsibility. I must make the time in order to be able to show up how I want to show up every day. And if that’s taking an hour in the morning for myself, and if that means I’m waking up earlier than I’m doing it, because I want that hour to look at whatever I want to do: read, TikTok, laugh, write emails, whatever I want to do.
So, we have to show up for ourselves so we can show up for other people. And I find that women, you know, society puts a lot of pressure on us to get everything done work, being a mother, you know, cooking, all of it. So, we have to find the time somewhere so illness doesn’t take it later because somehow time opens up when we’re ill. It just does. So, please, for your emotional health and physical well being, and to be able to make healthy lifestyle choices, it’s very important to fuel yourself up before you go filling the needs of everybody else up in your life. It’s very important. And believe me when I say I understand that it’s hard, but I really want you to find, even if it’s 15 minutes, it’s important for you to do that. And that’s specifically for women because in my experience, that’s who’s complaining about it the most. And it’s important.
Jeff Sarris: It’s so important for us. It’s important to talk about.
Jill Harris: Yeah, and sometimes you just have to learn the hard way. I feel like I learned that the hard way. I wasted a lot of time not learning that lesson. I’ve learned it now and I’ll never give that up. I’ve learned it. I’m done. It’s part of my core being, right? So, I’ll never go back. Never, never. It’s important.
Jeff Sarris: You walking around town waving and saying hi, I just I wanted to throw one little thing. And, like, Amara and I literally, mostly her, but when we’re walking around, whenever we see someone with a dog, she’ll usually wave and say ‘hi’ to the dog just because it’s happiness. I don’t know, there’s something about it. People may think like, “Who’s this goofy person doing this?” But who cares? It doesn’t matter. This brings joy to her, to us, to our experience and if you look up at the owner, usually they have a big smile on their face. They’re like, “Oh, they love my dog!”
Jill Harris: It’s unbridled joy. We all need that in our life. Once we get older, and I just mean 20–I mean, just look at children. Why are they so fascinating to watch? Because they’re in the middle of Jewel, the grocery store, it’s like, can you imagine as an adult just, you know, having a tantrum in the tampon aisle? You know, so just for me, it’s just so funny to watch children. They are who they are. And you may say, “Well, yeah, Jill, you are a little immature.” I think you know, once I read the name, Jill meant childlike–and I don’t think that’s immature. I think that part of my essence is just–it doesn’t care what really people think. It’s like I am who I am and if I get to bring a smile on somebody else’s face, well, that’s the best thing in the world. I mean, who wouldn’t want to do that, right? So, I don’t know. I think that’s great about Amara.
Jeff Sarris: And bringing up childlike, I have a friend who, I talk to him every so often, we’re doing like NFT stuff, and everything, he’s a great artist. He’s told me, I don’t know, every time we talk, he’s essentially like, “I love that you have a childlike curiosity.” He’s like, not childish, but childlike. And it’s just funny. I didn’t know that Jill meant childlike, but it is something. I think the curiosity–that’s why you see young children with that unbridled enthusiasm for certain things, because it’s like, ‘What is this? I want to know! This is fun. This is exciting.’ And it is hard to retain that as an adult, because we do have so many responsibilities. A lot of times it’s the self-imposed expectations of an adult acts like this, but what if an adult acted a little more like that childlike curiousity?
Not childish in a way that is off-putting or like not self-aware, but keeping that interest and wanting to pursue things and being like, “Why is this tree in my backyard so big? How did it get so big? Why does this look a little different from the other tree?” Like there’s so many different things that we would have done when we were younger, that maybe we feel like we shouldn’t be doing now. Even climbing that tree! Like why can’t an adult climb that tree? Just you do what brings you joy and and pursue what you want to pursue.
Jill Harris: Yeah, that’s so true! So the other day, I used to love climbing trees when I was little, no one’s surprised by that, and the other day–now remember I’m almost 60–I was like, “Damn, that’s a good tree climber. That’s a good tree climbing tree right there.” And I’m like, “Jill, you can’t. You just can’t climb the tree. You are old now. You’re on Medicare, for Pete’s sake, almost, come on!” The first thing that came up to me, and what you’re saying, there’s always a reason–I am riffing off you–is the fear of falling, right?
So that is what happens to us. We start being afraid somebody’s gonna judge us if we act like this, or we’re gonna look silly, or whatever. So, then, we become what we think an adult is supposed to become and I’m like, “Oh, my God, could that be any more boring?” It’s just like, it is more interesting if you do look at it as everything’s kind of weird and funny and “Hey, what is that? And who are you?” I mean, that’s just how I fly. You know? I don’t know.
Jeff Sarris: Well, I think this is an awesome episode. This is a longer one. Thank you to everyone for sticking around, but this is just so important to both of us. I think that comes through as well. This is something that means a lot to both of us. If you have a question, we will obviously get back to kidney stone specific related things, but that number again, is 773-789-8763. And you can leave a voicemail and we will feature you in a future episode.
To dive into more kidney stone related things, definitely subscribe to the YouTube channel right here or wherever you’re listening to your podcast. If you’re on YouTube, hit that little bell, get notified, leave a comment below and let us know if you’re new here or if you have any questions, or how you look at joy and where you find joy in your life. I think we all should, and do, find joy in different ways and I think it’s really valuable to see how we differ in that way, and maybe something we haven’t considered before could enrich our lives because you left that comment, and we were like, “Oh, yeah, I wish I should be doing that again. I didn’t haven’t done that in a long time, or whatever it is.”
Jill Harris: Jeff, I was gonna ask the audience the same thing. Where do you cultivate joy? Because, if we all pull together as a community, it can spark a whole bunch of different ideas so we can get more enjoy. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? There’s no such thing as too much joy.
Jeff Sarris: Absolutely. With that, I think we’ll wrap. Thank you again for listening and we will see you next week.
Jill Harris: Thanks for indulging us everybody. Bye!