Being the Best You: Remember to Think about How You Want to Feel


since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

e.e. cummings

When I turned 30, a friend gave me Danielle LaPorte’s book, The Desire Map, for my birthday. The most important concept therein, for me, was the idea that to be content and fulfilled, you must make choices based on how they (will) make you feel. In the workbook, she helps you to narrow down your options to a list of, say, four feelings. You can then use her journals and dayplanners to help root all of your daily choices – big and small – in achieving those desired feelings. Hypothetical example: if one of my “core desired feelings,” as she calls them, is relaxed, I might pause and think twice before signing up for five weekday nights in a row of volunteering at my child’s school after working 9-5 all day. Her book and daily planner were immensely helpful for me during a tumultuous transitional period of several years that came thereafter.

Now here I am, nearly five years later. One (almost two!) babies later, I do not have/find the time to journal daily or select new core desired feelings each New Year’s Day, but I will never forget the important lesson of rooting my choices in how they will make me feel. As moms, we can often be all go-go-go, focusing on our children’s wellbeing and meeting their needs (or wants?) first. As wives, we can often put our spouses’ feelings first. As employees or volunteers, we can often put the supervisor’s wishes and demands first. We must remember to think about how our choices will make us feel at the end of the day or week, or I fear that we will end up doing more damage than good.

I got to thinking about feelings again today because I had two strikingly different interactions this week. One person left me feeling seen, appreciated, and important; I was glowing and bubbly when the conversation ended. The other person left me feeling unsure, unappreciated, and unimportant; I was vaguely disappointed and downtrodden when the conversation ended. Since I am rooted in how I want to feel in all aspects of my life, I can clearly look at those two interactions and see which relationship is going to help me realize my core desired feelings and which is not worth my effort (no matter how hard I want to try to make it work).

writing feelings in a journal

As moms, spouses, employees, volunteers, we will do ourselves, our families, and our communities a great service by taking time to identify how we want to feel before making choices. Rooting in our core desired feelings will make us better people who can shine a little brighter for our tribe.

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Sarah Townsend Leach is a fundraising, communications, and leadership professional living in Collierville and working with clients around the country. Sarah grew up in Nashville and has lived in quite a few places, but thanks to visiting grandparents in East Memphis throughout her childhood and attending Rhodes College in Midtown, this has always been a second (and now a primary!) home. Sarah and her husband John met through both of their work in the Episcopal Church in 2015, and she is a mom to Poppy (June 2018) and Ann Townsend (October 2019). Follow her journey through new motherhood: focusing on learning how to be a parent and finding her new work-life balance out in the burbs. Sarah loves exploring, being outside, yoga, and crafting (all of which she has no time for now that she is a toddler mom).