Have you ever read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin? If not, you probably should. For whatever reason, I spent the first couple chapters determined to not like this writer. She seemed Type-A, privileged and someone I would never relate to in a million years. And yet, as I kept reading, she kept pouring out all these insightful truths that I could not ignore. Her research into what happiness is and how it is attained caused me to reflect on how I could be a better wife to my husband, what kind of parent I will be, and how to stay true to me in my very essence.
In chapter five, or in the month of May during her 12-month Happiness Project, she ponders and pursues leisure. By the end of the month Gretchen writes that she found fun to fall into three categories:
“Challenging fun is the most rewarding but also the most demanding. It can create frustration, anxiety, and hard work. It often requires errands. It takes time and energy. In the end, however, it pays off with the most satisfying fun.Usually less challenging, but still requiring a fair bit of effort, is accommodating fun. A family trip to the playground is accommodating fun. Yes, it’s fun, but I’m really there because my children want to go…It strengthens relationships, it builds memories, it’s fun- but it takes a lot of effort, organization, coordination with other people, and, well, accommodation.Relaxing fun is easy. I don’t have to hone skills or take action…Watching TV- the largest consumer of the world’s time after sleeping and work- is relaxing fun.”
This really struck a chord with me. Virtually all of my fun is “relaxing fun.” I would prefer to stay home and read a book than enjoy the company of others. Because we currently don’t have the internet or TV hooked up at our new house, I’ve been spending much of my time, when I’m not sleeping or working, reading. And I legitimately enjoy it. It makes me happy.
But on the laundry list of things I’d like to do- all of them are “challenging fun,” or things that require energy and investment, so they remain undone. For years, I’ve dreamed about running a 5k, and maybe one day, even a half marathon. Yet my running shoes remain neglected. I’ve promised my mother a scrapbook of my wedding (over a year ago) that remains untouched. I want to teach myself to sew, and my sewing machine is still boxed up. My laziness, selfishness and fear of failure have left me in the realm of superficial “relaxing fun” when being able to check any of the above off my laundry list of “One day I will”’s would make me elatedly happy.