So at the beginning of the year, our Spirituality Group decided to use Gretchen Rubin‘s book, The Happiness Project to inspire personal positive growth and to work on being happier. Each chapter in the book has a specific theme. To date, the book has inspired me to set goals (or resolutions), start this blog as a creative activity and to document my resolutions and to “Remember Love.” Despite my best efforts, I continue to struggle to lighten up, be more spontaneous, more carefree – but I haven’t lost hope. The theme of the current chapter I’m reading is leisure or “Be Serious About Play.” In her research Rubin identified that “the absence of feeling bad isn’t enough to make you happy; you must strive to find sources of feeling good.
One of the ways to do this is to make time for play.” This isn’t hard when I’m on vacation, especially when I’m away. Everything is fun.
So why is it so hard to sustain this carefree, joyous feeling when I’m home. Why do I struggle to be silly and simply enjoy the precious moments that present themselves. I recognize that when I’m particularly busy at work and have deadlines, or worries (real or assumed) it becomes harder to let go of my to do lists, my mental checklists, my sense of responsibility and the guilt I feel when I’m not getting things done.
I can’t be on vacation all the time, so the challenge is, when not on vacation, how do I have fun. Many of the activities that give me pleasure are quiet, solitary activities – reading a book, gardening, working on a project. I enjoy more ‘social’ activities as well – playing on a team sport with friends, entertaining friends for dinner, exploring new places. Despite the ultimate pleasure I get from these more social activities, I find myself hesitant to start these activities perhaps because they are more demanding, take more effort and require more work to initiate. In light of my happiness project commitment I am going to endeavor to be more serious about having fun. I will continue to enjoy my solitary activities without guilt… but I will also endeavor to enjoy more social activities. In particular, I will accept invitations from friends and family to join them in activities (regardless of what the activity is because spending time with them is what brings me pleasure). I will also make plans for new experiences as often as possible. And hopefully I can sustain the joy of jumping in the ocean waves.