Just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t mean it is fun for you

Like Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood this is something I’ve only really learnt recently. Even now I have to remind myself of this. I have writen in the past about being a “scanner” and the main tenet of this is a constant desire to try new things. Activities I have tried in the past include: ballet (I lasted one class), belly dancing, ice skating (last time I went I ended up with a black eye after breaking a fall with my face), book group (I started my own at university), knitting (I’m a terrible knitter but it did lead to me the wonder that is crochet), Zumba (and more recently Aqua Zumba), roller derby, and, of course, blogging.

I could have been a figure skater. You know, if it wasn’t for all the falling over.

Very few of these activities have had enduring appeal for me. For a long time I just assumed I lacked commitment and tenacity. I feared I was never going to be good at anything unless I could see it through. Some of these activities I get very passionate about and want to continue my interest. I have looked into becoming a yoga teacher, a breast feeding counsellor. For a few years I wanted to become an interpreter but then a got a C in my Spanish A level (in my defence I completed it in just one year). My blog name kind of gives the game away on this.

There’s a passion out there for everyone. Doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.

Reading Barbara Sher’s What Do I Do When I Want To Do Everything? opened my eyes to the possibility that I just crave novelty. I definitely think that is one aspect, and it helps me to be ok with my choices. But the other part is that I generally have life envy. I want to do things because other people are doing them. The whole way though university when people told me what course they were doing I’d think “That’s great, why didn’t I chose Linguistics and Croatian instead of boring psychology?”

I sometimes wonder why I am not spending my time rock climbing, silversmithing or watching film noir. Then I have to remind myself it’s because I don’t want to. I don’t have to share every interest of everyone I know. Yes, I still try new things, but I am more careful about what I take on, and do things that interest me rather than things I feel I should be interested in. That means I will be running crochet classes in a couple of weeks, but I won’t be taking on an allotment again.

What about you? Does your hobby cup runeth over? Or are you in a leisure pursuit prairie land?

Be a little bit happier

I’m using my short crafting break to catch up on some reading. I find it hard to combine the two things I enjoy most, crochet and reading, so as I focus on one the other falls by the wayside. I’ve had to return the last few library books I borrowed unread, knowing that in the Christmas craft frenzy I would never have to time to read them.

You’ll see that my blog is noticeably lacking in New Years resolutions. I haven’t made any, which is unusual for me. I have given myself a short term goal for January though. A goal is different to a resolution. A resolution is something you resolve to keep regularly. A goal is something you aim to achieve, that eventually comes to an end.

My tentative goal for this month is to read 5 books. I’m not sure how realistic that actually is, but that is what I am aiming to do. The first book I started on Monday and finished today. It was The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. It wasn’t an instructional book as I expected to be, more a personal memoir of the author’s year-long project to try and make herself happier by making small changes in her life.

I really identified with the author and her personality (in fact I spent the time not reading the book stalking her on Twitter!). She maintains that she is not a fundamentally unhappy person, but has a habit towards short-temper, grouchiness, and a sense that things should be better.

Rubin managed to do a lot of research on the subject. I imagine the project was a lot easier given that she is a full-time writer and the project turned into a best-selling book. I’m not sure how easy it would be with a out of the home full on job, less financial stability, and little on hand childcare.

She breaks the task of being happy into 12 themes, one for each month, and then sets concrete resolutions for each month, marking her progress off against a resolutions chart. She is very honest about the things that did and didn’t work for her, and the sceptical reactions she encountered, not least from her husband.

The activities, and the conclusion, are fairly predictable, and there is little that isn’t really common sense. But somehow the methodical way Rubin tackled the project transformed a meaningless resolution into a real exercise in self-development.

I’m totally inspired by the book and am forcing DH to read enough extracts to make him hooked too! I intend to start my own happiness project. While Rubin maintains that every project is unique, I think that because of our similarities mine will follow a similar path. One of the books she references is even on my to-read list this month. My mum bought me a old copy of Jung’s Memories, Dreams and Reflections to read. And Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness is one I picked up from the library recently which has reawakened my interest in psychology.

Finally, if you love this book like I do, you will also love ‘Help! How to become a little bit happier and get slightly more done’ by Oliver Burkeman. It’s an appraisal of the self-help movement focusing on actual things that have been proven to work to improve your life, just a little. January is a time to make changes, but big changes are unrealistic and unsustainable. It’s the little things that altogether add up to make a difference.

HELP!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done