The Duck Index

My yoga instructors offer a wealth of material for blog posts. 

Boomer explained a concept I must share with you. Something she learned from her yoga instructor. A practice called the Duck Index.

image by cursedthing, creative commons license

image by cursedthing, creative commons license

Many years ago, Boomer’s instructor gave her this advice: only do what brings you the joy of a three-year-old feeding a duck. 

“We all have to do things we don’t like to do,” said Boomer to my class. “We can’t only do the things we enjoy.”

True. We all deal with dirty dishes, smelly laundry, complicated tax returns.

“But imagine the happiness of a three-year-old feeding a duck,” she said. “We can choose to do more things that give us that kind of joy.”

Boomer put the joy of a three-year-old feeding a duck on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the greatest. She called the scale the Duck Index and began measuring experiences against it. She started saying no to as many things as she could that didn’t rank six or more on the Duck Index.

No to another volunteer opportunity when her volunteer hours were already maxed out. No to lunch with a demeaning colleague. No to a last-minute dinner with friends when what she needed was a night off.

“I could have done those things,” she said, “but someone would have paid for it. Either I would have paid for it in resentment and fatigue. Or those around me would have paid for it because I didn’t really want to be there.”

Sometimes saying no without guilt is difficult. But the more I do it, the easier it gets. The more it makes sense. 

Do I want to do this? Do I have to do this? 

If I don’t want to and I don’t have to, who will pay if I do it anyway? 

Can I say no to this, so someone who wants to do it can say yes? 

Can I say no, so I can say yes to what I want to do?

“Shoulders back and down. Don’t wear them like earrings,” said Boomer as our class continued. “Pay attention. You control where your shoulders sit.”

I am not the center of the universe. I am not in control of all the events in my life, but I am not a martyr or a victim either. I can place my shoulders back and down. I can say no without guilt. I can say yes to what brings me joy. So can you.

Pay attention. Your duck is waiting to be fed. 

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1 NIV

Wake on up from your slumber, baby, open up your eyes.

What scores 10 on your Duck Index?


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5 Responses to The Duck Index

  1. Oh this is AWESOME!! I need to think this way… I make so many decisions on obligation, people pleasing and guilt. I want to be able to say NO to so many things, that don’t give me a 6 or higher on the Duck index! I have made some progress in my 40’s…but need more work. My husband is SOOOO good at it! I think women tend to over think so many things and our hearts are so sensitive to what others think. Thanks for the encouragement to do more “duck feeding” activities and make better choices to get there!! :)

    • Aimee

      I agree, Chris. My husband is better at it than I am, too. I come from a long line of people-pleasing women, so I have some bad habits to unlearn! Takes time, but it totally worth it :)

  2. Great perspective and the things that you have to do that are below six, you can change how you look at them sometimes. I have family obligations that I don’t necessarily enjoy but if I look at it from a different lens… Maybe I do really enjoy the impact it has for someone else which lets me think differently & enjoy it so much more.

    • Aimee

      That’s such a good point, Janice. When I was writing this, I thought about how there are things I’ve done that I didn’t really want to do and it turned out okay anyway. Often what made the difference in those experiences was how my actions impacted someone else and of course my attitude!

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