What sounds like fun to you?

After hearing Gretchen Rubin being interviewed last week, I dove into reading a library copy of The Happiness Project. It was a pretty quick read for me - some of the interview summarized the book and many of the topics were things I've already researched in more detail with other books. A few simple things stood out though.


One was the notion of being true to myself when thinking about fun. There are so many things that seem fun in theory - crafting, DIY, running, etc - but in actuality, I don't enjoy doing them. Perhaps it's the fact that I enjoy sites like Pinterest and reading blogs, but all of a sudden all these things I never had any interest in seemed so easy and within reach. Look at how easy it is to make your own coffee table....maybe I would find the same amount of pleasure in doing it? (Yeah, right).

That being said, I completely and totally understand why YOU might find something like that fun. It's just not fun for me.

This got me thinking about what I liked to do. Reading topped my list. Yoga was right there with it. I like poems, reading blogs, working out in groups, taking walks, taking pictures of food, cooking when it's not just the average "get food on the table" sort of dinner.

But just as Rubin confessed in the book, I often overrate the activities of others and underrate the activities that are enjoyable to me. I don't know where that comes from....it's just that other people's hobbies somehow seem more authentic and more fun. Does anyone else every experience that?

I thought about how much I love to read but how I often feel guilty after I spend time wrapped up in a book. Something about it feels a bit lazy. Honestly though, if you asked me about a perfect weekend morning, it would be waking up without an alarm, reading book while drinking a cup of coffee and eating avocado toast in my pajamas. (Comfortable clothing may not be "fun" but it sure does make me happy).

Rubin also talks about the three categories of fun she observed. Challenging fun - you put a lot into planning these activities but you get a lot out of them too. Accommodating fun - like taking your kids to the park. It's something you enjoy doing BUT it's really about making the other people happy. And relaxing fun - like watching TV shows or reading a book. The first two categories tend to have the biggest payoff. Much of this is because the first two categories typically involve other people. Our relationships increase the fun factor.

After thinking about this a bit further, I thought of ways I could move reading from the "relaxing" category into the "challenging" category. I already do quite a bit of reading in the "accommodating" category. I do love reading the girls books.

It seemed like a natural step to simply involve other people. I enjoy nights out with friends, cocktails, and good food anyway. So why not mix that with reading? Although I've been a part of a few book clubs, they've never been all that satisfying. Either they were huge and impersonal or short lived (we've moved a lot in the past six years) and the friends who were in a book club with me here in California have all moved further away.

My answer was to take a tool that is usually a big time suck for me, Facebook, and try to put it to good use. I posted earlier this afternoon asking if anyone wanted to start a book club and got a few positive responses! I realized what an amazing tool Facebook can be. Used in the right way, it allowed me to reach out to people I otherwise would have found difficult to chat with about something like a book club - people I know in passing from the preschool or different mom groups. I don't know what will happen with it, I'm the first to admit that moms tend to have busy and unforgiving schedules - but I did feel a burst of enthusiasm and happiness immediately after posting about it.

I have a few more chapters to read in the book and I'm looking forward to finishing them and starting on Rubin's newest book. I would also love to know if there are things you've done solely because you thought they should be fun and then not found any satisfaction in them. I suppose we're all naturally inclined to just like what we like, right?

Gretchen Rubin and The Four Tendencies

Have you read any of Gretchen Rubin's books? Full disclosure...I haven't read them even though I've checked them out from the library multiple times. Yet this morning (since I had a lot of time in the car!) I listened to a Lively Show podcast where she was interviewed and I was immediately intrigued.

Gretchen was on the show talking habits and human nature. She described four groups of people - obligers, upholders, rebels, and questioners. The idea behind the categories is that people respond to expectations in different ways. There are two different types of expectations - inner and outer expectations. Inner expectations might be something like "I'm going to wake up run every morning at 6 am" while an outer expectation but be "I'm going to meet a running group every morning at 6am."

Obligers tend to struggle with inner expectations but follow through with external expectations. Upholders tend to follow through with both their internal and external expectations. Questioners do a lot of soul searching to figure out what matters and therefore respond well to inner expectations but resist external expectations. And rebels tend to resist both outer and inner expectations. There is a quiz on her website that can help you figure out which category you fall into if you're not sure. And although she gives you a small write up on the type that you most associate with, you can get extended report by signing up for her newsletter.

I was interested at the ease at which I dropped myself into the obliger circle (I confirmed this by taking the quiz later on in the day). It struck me that this was perhaps why I loved yoga teacher training so much. I'm so productive and responsible when I'm required to do something with external expectations. I also liked her "it depends" approach to answering many of the interview questions. I appreciate the recognition that everyone and every situation is a little different and so the answer can't be determined until some questions are answered.

I put two of her books on hold at the library. I'm curious what the recommendations are for obligers specifically. Although I'm fairly adept at setting mini-expectations for myself and following through, they never truly become habits for me. I've always thought this was something I needed to change about myself. Her responses made me think that she encourages people to work within the framework of the category by setting up tools to help people be sucessful.

Did you take the quiz? Were you able to group yourself right away too? Any thoughts on her books or her categories?

A Playlist for June

One of the ways I've been trying to slow down and reconnect to the moment is by listening to music. I've always loved music but it seems like I'm always too busy doing other things to really listen. I made this playlist for June and have been listening to it in the car and during yoga sessions. I feel so uplifted when I really listen. I love and appreciate good lyrics.

I'm open to suggestions if you've got some good mellow summer songs on your mind. 

I've been in the mood for some older stuff lately - Bob Dylan is my all time favorite - but this has a mix of a bunch of stuff. I'm loving the new song Renegades by The X Ambassadors too. And The Civil Wars cover of "Billie Jean" (which I just heard for the first time)....amazing.

Summer has finally arrived here. The girls just finished their last day of school and I'm ready for a few unscheduled weeks before we travel to Ohio and my brother and his family come to visit Southern California.

P.S. I don't know what we're going to do when the NBA finals ends this week (hopefully Friday and not tonight). Between Donovan being from Cleveland and rooting for the Cavs and watching the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup last night, its been a fun last month. Then again....the Cubs are over 500 for the first time in June since...well, who knows? :) Maybe this is the year.....