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How to Make a Tasty Pie

Like any recipe, you’ll need ingredients, directions on how to combine things and how long to “bake” your Pie, and finally some suggestions on how best to “serve” your Pie (See the next chapter, “Now What?”) There is one other requirement for the process. You need to be in the right frame of mind: The act of crafting your Pie needs to reflect the spirit of Pie. This activity is intended to be joyous. If it isn’t bringing a smile to your face as you are proceeding, then you need to stop and start up again when it does. Here are several hints that might increase the probability of making a really tasty Pie on your first try:

Allow ample time to make your Pie: Because everything that you put on your Pie requires deliberation- it can’t be hurried. Importantly, you don’t have to finish your Pie in one sitting. There is no wrong way to do your Pie except if you are feeling rushed and if you don’t have a smile on your face as you are working.

Create an environment where you will enjoy working on your Pie: If a cup of tea or a glass of wine helps you do your best thinking, make sure it sits close by. Treat yourself kindly.

Remember - Pie is a tool to identify and remind yourself of what brings joy to your life!

Pie is NOT:

A “to-do” list: You are not creating a list of chores to be completed.

A “bucket list”: While there may be items on your Pie that you want to complete before you die, the emphasis is finding joy in the present moment.

A group activity - initially: Everyone needs to start by doing their own Pie. Likewise, a significant other should do their own Pie. Comparing Pies afterward can be helpful in building a relationship.

A balancing exercise: You don’t have to have equal size pieces in your Pie to find joy.

Selfish: A well-crafted Pie is a personal declaration of activities and experiences that are unique to you and your joy. Can it be an exercise in selfishness if you wish a well crafted Pie for everyone that you know?

While you can certainly create a Pie on your computer, I’m recommending that you go old school and work with actual paper. Putting pencil to paper creates its own intention and energy.

First, list potential slices of your Pie. These are the category areas of your life that bring you joy. Or have brought you joy in the past, but have long been forgotten. Here are some typical slices that many people acknowledge as joy-producing:

  • Relationships

  • Work/Vocation

  • Giving Back

  • Learning

  • Recreation

  • Travel

  • Hobbies

  • Wellness

  • A joy that warrants its own slice (e.g., fishing, gardening, writing, anything a close friend might say is one of your obsessions)

Based on my experience, most individuals tend to have anywhere from five to eight slices on their Pie.

Next, draw a decent-size circle on a piece of paper. Based on the number of categories you’ve identified, take a first crack at dividing the Pie into that many slivers. Try estimating the size of each slice based on what you hope to be true.

For example, if you are trying to reduce your time spent on Work/Vocation joy relative to other areas of joy in your life, reduce the size of that sliver. Conversely, if you are trying to maximize the amount of time/energy you spend with a new grandchild, perhaps you should increase the size of your Relationship slice to accommodate.

Now that you have a segmented Pie with headings for each slice, the fun begins. Under each heading, identify specific ideas that bring you joy. Repeat - You must be specific.

For example, if you have a Relationship sliver of your Pie, rather than generally listing “spend time with my kids,” indicate specifically what that will look like. To be more specific, you could write, “Take my son tarpon fishing in the Keys this summer.”

You know you are getting close to a Pie-worthy entry when just reading what you have written brings a smile to your face. Or if you have just had the experience listed, you would be so grateful for that time.

The best entry has a clarity and specificity to it such that there is no question if it has happened. Spending time with kids is actually an ill-defined entry. Reeling in tarpon with your son in the southern tip of Florida is very defined.

Have fun generating ideas for each heading. More ideas is better than fewer at this stage. Think of ideas that you have put aside because of the way you have currently structured your life. Or how you interact with your spouse or partner.

If playing drums is something you always wanted to learn, capture it. Perhaps it is time to get to Alaska to see the wildlife this coming summer. Think about the things you say you’ll get to after work, the dishes, putting the kids to bed - but don’t. Capture those.

Here is an exercise to do right now that will get the ideas flowing. It’s called, “15 minutes before dinner.”

For this to be most effective, regress to the time in your life when you were between 7 and 12 years old. I recall that when my mom shouted out that we were getting close to meal time, I felt like I had been given a gift of a few precious minutes to do what I really wanted to do.

For me, it meant quickly getting outside one last time. Maybe to shoot some baskets, maybe just to feel the fresh air, but always an opportunity to be out in nature.

The key to this exercise is remembering what you would do when you had this brief gift of time. Back then, you didn’t have to think about what you would do. You knew!

Some might have used this time to build with Legos. Others played with dolls. Or read another chapter. Or contacted a friend. Regardless of what it was, there is a clue there for at least a slice of your current Pie. So get busy remembering. And then connect that memory to available joy right now.

After you’ve generated a slew of ideas, you’ll need to decide what really belongs on your Pie (or not):

The answer may be YES, if:

  • Thinking about the item (or writing it down on your Pie) makes you smile.

  • You are infatuated with the “trappings” surrounding the item (e.g., related equipment, people also involved, locations where this can occur, etc.)

  • You have a “knowing” that this item is completely in line with who you are.

The answer may be NO, if:

  • Thinking about the item (or writing it down) doesn’t bring a smile.

  • None of the “trappings” surrounding the item interest you all that much.

  • You already “know” that there isn’t joy here, yet you are entertaining the idea because of a sense of obligation or it appeals to your ego and how you think others see you.

Let me say more about the final point on the list above. Sometimes it is hard to discern if you will derive joy from a Pie entry, particularly if it is primarily a reflection of how you see yourself or how others see you. The motivation is critical. Looking good to others is rarely a pathway to honest joy.

So, I’d suggest adding the following criteria, when reviewing items on your Pie:

If no one knew that I had the item on my Pie, would it still be on my Pie?

This can be a stringent criteria to incorporate while building your Pie. Your joy comes only from what you know to be truer for you. For example, if attending a silent retreat at a monastery would be joyous only because you would get to tell others about it, which might prove how evolved and cool you are, then it shouldn’t be on your Pie.

So get out that paper and pencil, find a comfortable place to work, have a beverage or snack nearby and let the joy begin. Don’t forget to set the oven to 350 degrees. Just kidding. But I’m thinking you might have a smile on your face from that comment. And if you do, that is the right attitude to have as you begin on what I hope may be the first of your many delicious Pies.

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