Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Be Serious About Play / The Happiness Project

For those of you who do not know, I have decided to read the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and follow along on her journey to find Happiness right where we are in life. I will be posting every month in response to the chapters topic that are set up in her book. You can follow along in my journey here.
May: Be Serious About Play
I love this subject. I find that we are often too busy trying to grow up that we forget what its like to play. Since having Bug I find that I am spending more time playing. It just comes with the territory. I love it and I will never stop playing with my child. Children should play, and I need to remember to show that. They learn from example. I would never want Bug to learn from me that stressing & being serious is the way to live. I want her to laugh, I want her imagination to blossom, I want her to collect rocks, and I want her to play. So I am going to be serious about play.

1. Find more fun.
"I needed to acknowledge to myself what I enjoyed, not what I wished I enjoyed."

I feel like I am on a long quest in search of myself. I am constantly asking myself questions, trying to figure myself out, and figure out how I want to live my life. I have a huge wish list of things that I want to accomplish, skills I want to learn, and habits that I want to add into my life. I see how someone lives their morning, and I want to adapt to their ways of life, because it looks beautiful and sounds amazing. I see a craft online and I try to learn it, because it is beautiful and I know that I would have so much fun making it. I constantly want to learn, and adapt, but sometimes I can get so carried away with dreaming of "what I could be" or "what I could do" that I forgot who I am is important. More important. My likes & dislikes are the reason I am me. And even though my likes may seem silly to me, they are what makes me me, and that is never silly.

Be Emily.

"...just because something was fun for someone else didn't mean it was fun for me - and vice versa."

"First, it makes me sad to realize my limitations. The world offers so much! - so much beauty, so much fun, and I am unable to appreciate most of it. But it also makes me sad because, in many ways, I wish I were different. One of my Secrets of Adulthood is 'You can choose what you do; you can't choose what you like to do.' I have a lot of notions about what I wish I liked to do, about the subjects and occupations that I wish interested me. But it doesn't matter what I wish I were like. I am Gretchen."

I am Emily.

As a challenge to myself, down below is a list of things that I really love to do/be a part of that I have, at least once in my life, felt embarrassed about.

-I will stop to take a picture of the flowers.
-I will always point to the sunrise/set/clouds/stars/tree/anything else in nature that I find beautiful.
-I still enjoy reading Nancy Drew.
-I collect books and will be sad when I go into a store and can't buy one.
-I go through phases of knitting/painting/crafting/reading because I am left dry and need to find inspiration. This is not a bad thing.
-I love it when a commercial makes me tear up.
-I hate talking on the phone, but I LOVE emailing, texting, writing letters, talking in person. I will always choose those options over talking on the phone.
-I am a romantic at heart.
-I am an optimist.
-I really like playing minecraft.
-I will always choose staying at home rather than going out to party.

This is just an example of who I am and things that I have tried to change because I thought that I had to - that it was important. But its not - I am just denying who I really am. And that is never a good thing. So I am embracing this as I am embracing that I need to find more fun. So I let go, I let go of the expectations that I had for myself, of who I needed to be, and I choose to show Bug the flowers, stopping & pointing and telling her what they are called. I choose to read to her silly books over & over again, because I love reading books, and I want her to see the gift they are. And as she shows signs of starting collections of her own, or loves of her own, I will embrace and encourage that, because that is who she is. We will find fun together and apart, and even though there is a time to learn and adapt and change, I will remember who I am and that what I like, deep down inside, is so very important.

2. Take time to be silly.
"I should try to have as much fun as she's having."

Sometimes I am more serious than I should be. No matter the excuse, I can snap, I can grumble, I can be the adult in the room, and I can shut down a fun moment with a single glare. But why? What is the point? Now everyone is grumpy. There was no reason to shut down that fun moment. There was no reason to say that thing.

"Taking the time to be silly means that we're infecting one another with good cheer, and people who enjoy silliness are one third more likely to be happy."

Moods are contagious. From the minute we wake up, or come home, we can soak up the moods around us. In my personal opinion, I would rather be silly, be jolly, be ridiculously joyful (even if people look at me like I am crazy) than live a life where I am a killjoy, where I am depressed, sad, angry all the time. There are times to be all of those emotions, thats why we have them, to feel them, but on an every day scale. I would rather make a silly face to make my daughter laugh then to ignore her for that brief moment or to stop the fun from happening. I want the fun to happen every single day whenever possible.

3. Go off the path.

This was probably the hardest challenge for me to do, but the most worthwhile. I am a routine girl at heart and it is hard for me to do choose to do something that takes me out of my routine. I always fight with my anxiety on this one, and I never regret doing something spontaneous or random. Its good for me. I need to get out of my comfort zone and experience other things or take part in a day that I didn't originally plan. I just don't like starting it. I have found that I need a couple of minutes to digest the "new" plans, rethink, reflect, and convince myself that whatever it is I am fighting off is good for me. Once I have had a moment to truly and really think about it, and fight that anxiety, I get very excited about the prospect of doing something new.

This month I focused on plans with friends. I tried very hard to just say yes to any plan that came my way unless I had other plans or something else interfered with those plans. I certainly didn't find myself out and about more days than at home that I originally feared would happen. I actually had fun EVERY single time. In fact, as I type this, I miss my friends. I want to make more plans. This is good for me. And like I mentioned above, I found out how my mind works. My first instinct is to say no to plans that are for the next day or the day of, but if I just take a moment (think, reflect, ask myself what could go wrong) to myself, I am always more agreeable. I call this an Emily quirk.

4. Start a collection.

I love to collect things. I am a collector at heart and I would turn my house into a museum if I could. With that being said, I also am a minimalist at heart. The idea of having collections terrifies me. I don't want to turn into the penguin, book, or antique lady. I really don't. Homes on Pinterest that feature a minimal space (white walls, one plant, organized bookshelf with no knick knacks) inspires me and I really do want my home to look like that. However, I am a collector. There is no way I could ever have a home like that, and maybe thats okay. Maybe this is a Just Be Emily thing. Can I have a mixture of minimal and still collect things?

I collect books. All kinds. Even ones I have never read nor ever will I find hard to give up. I also collect something with my mom that is special to our hearts, so for this challenge I thought, I should collect something with Bug. Something that actually means something. Not just stuff. Not just for me. For this month, Bug & I have taken a lot of nature walks, every day if we could. Her love right now is for rocks, and mine has always been for flowers. So we gather up our treasures, we talk about them, we kiss the rocks (Bug started that one), and we put them into little piles. Some make it into the house, some get used for other purposes, and some just are with us for the day, we leave them outside at the end. I have flowers drying in the house that we have found, pinecones and rocks are on my shelves. A little bit of nature inside, I am okay with this. I don't find this overwhelming and it is bringing in the world outside that I love so much. This may not be the perfect kind of collection, but its where we are at right now. Its where both of our hearts are kept. In little things, the things that most people walk right passed. I hope to nurture and encourage this love in Bug. I want her to point at all things flowers & sunsets, when nobody else sees them. These are my favourite memories.

I would love to hear from you, readers comments and discussions are always welcome. Have you read this book before? What are some of the things that you found challenging or easy? What was your favourite thing to learn? Without even reading the book, have you discovered these challenges in your own life? 

It is never too late to start a happiness project. If you would like to join in on it with me, I would love to hear about your journey. xoxo 

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