How to find joy... when you're just too damn busy


Words: Sarah Tarca // @Tarca

Imagery: Amanda Prior // @amandaprior

The Active Yogi Kate Kendall for The Wayward

Kate Kendall (aka: the active yogi) is busy. The co-founder and director of Yoga at Flow Athletic in Sydney’s Paddington is also a mama to six-month-old Alice… and somewhere in there she also found the time to write a book. But, do you know one thing she always makes time for? Joy. And though it may seem ridiculous that joy is something you need to “make time” for, if we don’t it seems that it’s the first thing to disappear from our life. Having experienced this first hand, and it being one of the running themes in her book Life in the Flow we thought there was no better person to speak to us about reconnecting with joy than Kate herself. And, over our hour-long baby-interrupted conversation (mine and hers) not only did I feel that Kate was truly present, but also practised everything she talks so passionately about. As Kate says “Our true nature is what the Buddhist refers to as ‘Buddha Nature’: pure joy. Babies are born with it, it’s our true nature… yet it often gets lost. You know what’s not natural? Giving up that joy. Here are her five best tips for taking and embracing joy in a busy life.  

  1. Prioritise it

“It sounds really simple, but you just have to make it a priority, like you would your morning coffee.  We just don’t make it a priority and I think having no time is a bullshit excuse… we can all make time even if  it means clearing out space for it.” So maybe, your skincare routine has six steps instead of nine, maybe you wake up five minutes earlier to take that time for yourself, or maybe you don’t need to work through lunch. Because you need (and deserve) more joy. “At first I think you need to be a bit mechanical about it like ‘ok now I’m going to watch something that will make me smile’ or ‘I’m going to make some soup because that makes me really happy,” says Kate, “but eventually it will become a new pattern.”


“You know what’s not natural? Giving up joy.”


2. Remember what you love

“I think you have to remember what you loved doing before you go so crazy busy. Sometimes you almost need something to crack you open to get there. For me, that thing was simply playing a game called ‘Peace Sticks’ while I was on a retreat at Aro Ha in New Zealand.  At the end of the game, having played in a way I hadn’t since I was a kid, I started to cry because I realised I’d forgotten the small joy in playing a game. It was heart-opening and completely freeing.”


3. Slow down

“A really simple way to get there is to slow down, because when we slow down we’re able to prioritise and remember what’s important,” says Kate. Slow down, look after yourself and from there we’ll each work it out.


4. Look in unexpected places

Finding joy doesn’t have to be in the big-ticket items, or the bucket list achievements. As Kate says in her book, as we get older, that sometimes gets more difficult with external influences and the baggage we pick up along the way, and the fact that we naturally become more goal orientated as we age.  “But really you can find joy is so much,” says Kate. “It can be in having a meal, looking into the eyes of a newborn, you can make time for joy by hanging out with the people you love. Or sometimes in the unlikeliest places like savouring a glass of red wine by the fire, giving a gift or running as the sun rises.”


5. Rituals are everything

“I don’t know how people survive without rituals. It means different things to different people, but for me, it’s that space in the morning. And we can’t always have it, let’s be honest. I used to have 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening to meditate before Alice was born but it's not a reality anymore. But I can, no matter what, wake up, put my feet on the ground close my eyes and take a deep breath. That’s a ritual. And that’s something we all can do. Ritual is a deep reverence and respect for yourself, you get to choose how your set the tone for you day.”



Read more from Kate in

her book Life in Flow, with photography by Amanda Prior, $35, our now through Murdoch Books.