Written by: Beau DeCourcy
Have you ever caught yourself in a lie, and thought to yourself: “what am I saying?” but continued to say it anyway because you felt it was what you’re supposed to say? Have you ever taken part in an activity on a regular basis that you didn’t enjoy at all but kept doing it because everyone else seemed to enjoy it so much? Have you ever bought something you thought would make your life better or easier, but it ended up having the opposite effect? I have done all three, and what I’ve learned is that being brutally honest with oneself is one of the hardest things to do.
Sometimes we are able to deceive ourselves and continue to engage in endeavors in our lives that do ourselves and those around us a disservice. When we exist in any situation without purpose or desire, we dilute our presence. Learning to recognize these situations, and replace them with more fulfilling options takes a bit of skill and courage, but the result is significant.
I’m going to be shocking (and topical) and tell you that I don’t enjoy watching football. Don’t worry football fans, Aaron doesn’t share my sentiment. But with all the chatter lately about how exciting and important the start of the season is, I almost forgot I don’t care much about it. The idea of sitting in a living room all day on one of only two of my days off depresses me, yet I have done this countless times. I have also had conversations about football (and other things) and acted as if I was interested. Why? Because what else does a young male do on a Sunday afternoon? Furthermore, I have also bought a big screen TV to watch the games on (everyone else was getting one) that now is used about once a month as a computer screen for the computer that I never use (I write almost exclusively on my IPhone; one of the purchases and activities I do enjoy). The point I’m getting at is not that people shouldn’t watch football, or have nice things they truly enjoy, but that each person should evaluate why and how they’re spending their free time, money and energy. Is there something else more deserving?
There are a number of reasons why people do things, buy things and say things they don’t want. The most common reason, in my opinion, is social pressure to fit in. Fitting in is not necessarily a bad thing, but squandering any part of your existence doing what you think is expected of you, even when you don’t enjoy it, is.
Aaron and I talk a lot about living simpler lives and owning less (like my big screen TV). But what about being an activity minimalist? Not all of us have limited funds, so buying a lot of things for some people is not a big issue, but each one of us has limited time, and time is priceless. What you do with your time is your choice, so learn to spend it on things you really enjoy. I’ll say it again, things you REALLY enjoy. In other words, make it count.
Take some time, as valuable as it is, and re-evaluate how you spend your free time. Do you really enjoy some of the activities you do as much as you think? Are some of your daily habits or rituals really as important to you now as they once were? Be honest, not just with yourself, but with others. If you’d rather knit than watch football, then knit. If you’d rather enjoy an early morning hike than another late night bar binge, then don’t worry about being called “lame.” Have the courage to consider and engage in all the “weird” and “boring” activities you may secretly like. If you were to tell me ten years ago that I would spend a good percentage of my time reading and talking about organic chemistry, I would have laughed at you.
Choosing activities that bring you purpose in place of acceptance or popularity will lead to a potent and more enjoyable existence. Shake it up a little and break the tiresome routines and habits and explore new and exciting options. When you minimize and prioritize your behavior, you’ll realize you have more free time, and money than you thought. So don’t worry about buying the sports jersey for someone else’s favorite team, or missing out on the foliage hike because of an “important” play off game, and certainly don’t forget that ‘exercise’ and play can be one in the same.
How do you spend your free time? Are there options you’d rather do? If so, what are they?