Poof. It's over.
My little "life sabbatical", the one that took Hubbie and me overseas for six months, is over. And in the blink of an eye that sneaky little bugger known as reality has quickly set in.
Exhibit A? My new living room at the moment:
If you follow my blog you know that - despite this chaos - it's been worth it. The trip was filled with lots of valuable lessons and new perspectives. And lots of new faces.
It was also filled with something even better, something really, really important if you want to like your life more. If you want to smile more, laugh more, be more happy.
And, more importantly, it's not just something to be had when we're on some big trip. It's something we can all have anytime. Every day.
Stay with me, because I know you need to hear this.
Why am I so certain? Because we all do.
We all talk about how to be happy for real -- to like life more. Whole books and seminars and therapeutic relationships are based on this.
Yet somehow we've forgotten that one big way to have joy in our lives is to enjoy what we're doing.
Somehow we've forgotten that to enjoy something, we need to have fun with it all along the way. No matter where we are, or what day of the week it is, or whether we're at the office or on some exotic island.
Somehow we've just gotten so darn serious about everything.
It's like we became adults and someone shut off the fun button:
- We take on our careers with drive, ambition and a whole lot of stress -- and we forget that we're supposed to enjoy it. Most of the time, anyway.
- We pursue our academic degree by diligently studying whenever we get the chance, and we forget that we're supposed to enjoy it. Most of the time, anyway.
- We diligently go for our morning workout, attend another networking event, write a blog post and we forget that we're supposed to enjoy it. Most of the time, anyway.
When we don't enjoy life, we just don't like it as much. Which doesn't just make things a whole lot less fun, by the way. It also makes us less fun to be around.
So what happened here?
We all have a lot of pressure in our lives: pressure to perfectly succeed; and pressure to raise perfect families; and pressure to be perfectly fit and smart and wise about current events.
We've become so consumed with and stressed out about achieving everything we want to do -- and everything others say we should do -- that we forget that we chose to do them. Heck, we forget that we're supposed to like them.
And voila! There goes the fun. No joy here.
Really, what kind of life is that?
Now, let me state for the record that I do know that not everything in life can be fun. I do know that there are things we need to do that we don't enjoy at all.
There's plenty of opportunity to have fun, too, if we just set our minds to it.
I figured this out because I met a whole bunch of happy people while I was away (and a few miserable people too, by the way). And the big difference was that happy people know how to have fun with their lives.
What these fun-mongers can teach us is the following:
First, it's up to us to pick jobs, relationships and hobbies that we believe we will enjoy, even though we know they'll be challenging. Fun and challenging, it turns out, aren't mutually exclusive.
Then, it's up to us to remember to have fun with them -- most of the time. If we find ourselves in a pressure-filled job or other situation, it's up to us to remember back to when we chose these things over all of the other things we could've chosen.
It's up to us to remember why it excited us, and to ask ourselves if it still does. It's up to us to ask ourselves how we can make it fun again, perhaps in a new way. And then it's up to us to do it.
And here's the biggie. Ready?
When something becomes un-fun in an irreparable way, it's up to us to change it. It's up to us to shake things up with new things in our lives, to drop the groups or routines or hobbies that have lost their fun, and to intentionally choose other things that will be.
It's all about choices in the end, yes?
So make choices that bring on the fun... most of the time.
And know that lots of things can be fun.
Even moving day, especially when you take a break and decide to have some fun with it.
Have fun. Simple as that.
If it's not fun -- remember how to make it fun, or change it.
Then like your life more and enjoy every minute of it.