Here are two lists for your afternoon edification:
Things I Should Like: running marathons, cooking healthy meals for my children, using my time efficiently, drinking green smoothies, reading highbrow literary fiction, playing board games, getting my accounting in order, vacuuming my house, watering and weeding garden, meeting new people, ironing...
Things I Actually Like: wasting time, eating chocolate, drinking coffee, beachcombing, writing, Star Wars geekery, crystals, saori weaving, painting, napping, reading Regency Romance, consignment shopping at Value Village and similar stores, talking to my children...
These are by no means complete lists and, let's face it, pretty much every adult life is full of obligations where one is forced to pull on one's big girl / boy panties and simply do what is necessary. I have to undergo a lot of unpleasant medical exams, sit through many an unwanted doctor's appointment, knuckle down and complete the endless paperwork that comes with being on disability, edit my books when I feel like painting, pay attention to Franck when he explains the new Excel spreadsheet he set up for my writing revenue and expenses (bless), et cetera et cetera.
However, we all have at least SOME spare time. My life has changed radically since I stopped filling it with activities plucked from the first list and instead filled it with things from the second, Things I Actually Like.
I am preparing my part in the Moonrise Creative "Unlocking Your Creativity" workshop this Saturday which I am SUPER EXCITED about (just sayin'. Oh! There's another thing I love! Workshops!). I will be leading a bunch of free writing exercises to help unearth our creative selves and free them from the blockages that hold so many of us back. One of the favourite prompts that I have come up with is: "Here is a list of things that make me happy."
On Saturday, I am going to preface this writing prompt by clarifying that this should not be a list of "things that should make me happy" or "things that other people think should make me happy" or "things I wish made me happy" but actually "THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY." There is a vast and crucial difference.
The list should by definition be quirky, bizarre, humble, grandiose, illogical, and unique...you know...kind of like you.
I have no idea why Star Wars geekery makes me happy, but it has from the time I saw Star Wars IV at the Cineplex Odeon when I was six years old. I have no idea why I love shopping at consignment stores ("treasure hunting" as I think of it) but I have ever since I started a part time job and began earning my own pocket money when I was a teenager. I no inkling why I was designed to be a writer, but besides being born with the "what if" gene I remember writing a short story when I was seven about my Scottish great-grandfather Fletcher and my cat Pandora dying and feeling transcendent when I finished it, and even better when my teacher wrote that she cried when she corrected it.
I always tell my girls this, "Pay close attention to what makes you feel happy and make a mental note. Then, find ways to incorporate more of that into your lives."
But then, take board games...I simply cannot make myself care if I win or lose, and frankly would rather shoot myself in the head than embark on a game of Monopoly. I just want to sit around and talk to people.
Ironing makes me want to punch somebody and the only time our iron is ever taken out of the cupboard is for craft projects. As a result it reeks of melted plastic (Clem's melty bead phase) and probably is no longer fit for clothes anyway.
No one has solved the celestial mystery of why we love what we love, but being honest about what makes us happy and incorporating as much of it as possible into our lives can be transformative. A life created for the irreplaceable you is so much richer than a life created for someone you are not, but think you should be. It is so much happier.
I can't wait to learn on Saturday about the things that makes the workshop participants truly happy. How about you? What things do you actually like?
And, to quote one of my favorite lines from The Princess Bride, "This is for posterity sake, so please be honest."