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?