Learning to enjoy life and having fun is a skill well worth pursuing. An old proverb says that “A merry heart does good, like a medicine.” There is more to life than just putting your nose to the grindstone. As the old saying goes “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.”
In University one of my favourite courses involved playing games, colouring and cutting out pictures from magazines. My fellow class mates complained and said they weren’t paying good money to be in pre-school. I had forgotten how much fun I once had doing those activities and it brought back my creativity. I realized that life had become so serious for me, that I forgot how to have fun.
Having a positive feeling about one of our abilities can help us to deal with another area which is more difficult to handle. Focusing on areas of success and competence can buffer the ill effects of stress.
Being the youngest of six, I had to learn how to run fast. It was survival of the fittest. High School was a very stressful time for me and it was not a pleasant experience. I was not academically smart, I didn’t have the makings of a beauty queen, and I was extremely poor in social skills. But boy could I run. I could outrun any boy in my PE class. It was the one thing that gave me pleasure. Despite all my problems I was a fast runner and I used that positive aspect to offset my other problems.
Enjoying life is about appreciating and noticing simple pleasures.
- The smell of fresh baked bread or of lavender.
- The feeling of the warmth from the sun, or enjoying a shoulder massage.
- Sleeping in a comfortable warm bed.
- The sound a children laughing or a canary singing.
- Gazing at the stars or watching an eagle.
- Eating a juicy mango.
- Enjoying a favourite movie that makes you cry.
- Laughing at a funny joke.
I am not saying that life is just full of games and one should never work hard. It’s about maintaining a balance, knowing when it’s time to stop and not allowing work to control you. People report low job satisfaction as one of the greatest sources of unhappiness. Robert Ornstein and David Sobel in their book Healthy Pleasures say “Job dissatisfaction can result from underload as well as overload, lack of job variety, and no challenges to help develop skills.”
They go on to say, “Invest in yourself in ways that are meaningful. Some enjoy getting an education or are active in a hobby. Growing in knowledge can increases your confidence level. Having a hobby can increase your health by having something you love to do just for the sake of doing it. It is like a retreat, a place to escape, an island of satisfaction, building self-confidence and self-mastery.”
In their book they also mention the importance of being a part of a team and having a sense of belonging. They discuss the importance of not being self-centered. They say doing something for others can bring a sense of happiness.
Q: “How many self-centered people does it take to screw in a light bulb?”
A: “One. He holds it still while the world revolves around him.”
How about you? Are you self-centered? Is your work controlling you? Are you ready to allow the simple pleasures of life to splash into your difficult situations? What hobbies would you like to incorporate into your life? Do you have a healthy balance of work and play?
Alice Maryniuk is author of Thinking for a Change, how to transform your life by transforming your thoughts.