Playing In The Dirt - Finding What Makes You Happy

Last week’s blog article was all about checking in on our 2019 goals, and how to refresh them for the remainder of the year.  Hopefully, you were able to take the time to do that, because, well, it’s important. This week though, I want to change the conversation a bit.  While it’s important (and very helpful!) to have goals, priorities, to-do lists, etc. it’s also imperative that we check in with ourselves not from the viewpoint of “am I getting enough done?”, but more along the lines of “am I enjoying myself?”  I think we should all figure out what really makes us “tick”, what activity (or activities) makes us happy and feel good about life and ourselves - and then make sure that everything else on our to-do list doesn’t squash the hopes of ever partaking in those activities!

I grew up a ‘country kid’.  We lived in an old farmhouse on a 20-something acre plot.  My mom had a huge garden. We climbed apple trees, played house in the rafters of a dilapidated barn, dug for old cow bones (that of course we decided were from dinosaurs), and caught turtles and gave them names in the swamp/pond behind the house.  So, needless to say, I like to play in the dirt 😊

Fast-forward to adulthood, and while my priorities and to-do list have changed, my affliction for the outdoors and adventuring has not.  While I may not be playing in the rafters of an old barn anymore (and thinking back, that was probably very sketchy and I’m calling my parents tonight to ask them why they allowed it…), I do readily partake in home improvement activities that require crawling into dark spaces and balancing on beams.  I still give a name to every turtle I find around my pond. And while I no longer climb apple trees pretending to be a pirate look-out, I do climb them for pruning limbs and picking that sweet, delicious fruit. When my nephews come over and find a rock that they’re sure is a dragon egg, I help them build a nest for it, so the baby dragon will hatch into a nice cozy home (but, you know, that may be 100 years from now.  Dragon eggs don’t hatch right away!).

We all have our activities or interests that no matter where we are in life, we can find comfort and happiness in. When life gets crazy and priorities and deadlines take over, rediscovering and committing to this activity or interest can be the most beneficial “therapy” we could ask for.  For me, being in tune with nature and the world around me always has a way of calming my soul and clearing my mind. But, that’s not the case for everyone, of course.

For some, going to the gym for a good sweat session is that therapy, that escape from the grind, that mind-clearing, soul-calming hour in the midst of a hectic day.  Obviously, I know a lot of these people. And I see in them the same thing I see in me after a day of playing (I mean, working…) on the farm: satisfaction. Whether they conquered a goal, or got a little bit better, or worked harder than they thought they could… or just sweat a bit and relieved some stress.  The enjoyment is there, and it makes me so happy to see.

Maybe you’re one of these people.  If you’re reading this post, you most likely are!  I want you to take a moment and congratulate yourself on finding and maintaining an activity that you love.  And then another moment to remind yourself that it’s worth your time to enjoy it fully. Even when (and especially when) our lives switch gears, our priorities change, our to-do lists grow.  Instead of excuses not to make it to the gym, try to use those shifts and stressors as reminders that you do need your “happy time”, your “therapy” – and you deserve to get all of the enjoyment out of it you always have.  Really, think about the power in that decision, that commitment you’re making to yourself. Give yourself the permission to enjoy every single day and do what you love regularly. Whether that’s throwing barbells around, playing in the dirt, or whatever else you truly love. Go forth and enjoy it!

Karen Southwick