“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” ~Joseph Campbell
Because I am self-employed, I often find that my work is my life. There is no off switch when the day is over. Some days I get so caught up in the busyness that I completely forget myself.
While my work is immensely meaningful and enjoyable, I believe it’s important to have other activities outside of work that bring us joy so we can live even fuller lives.
When I get too caught up in my work of helping others, I forget the other things that are important to me. This makes me feel that I lack the balance of a multifaceted life.
One day I realized that I was so caught up in helping other people that I completely forgot to help myself. As an introvert, it’s important to recharge my batteries by pursuing activities that recharge the soul.
So I sat down with a pen and paper and did what most busy people do: I wrote a list.
This was a list with a difference.
I wrote down every single activity I enjoy. I wrote down every single activity I hadn’t tried but wanted to. And I wrote down every single place I wanted to visit.
This was the beginning of actively creating joy in life. You can make of life what you will. Personally, I choose happiness.
In positive psychology, a method for finding happiness and joy is being in a state of flow. You already know this feeling. It’s when you are completely tied up in what you are doing and you lose track of time because you are so engaged and stimulated in your activity.
Often, activities that put us in a state of flow are creative—things like painting, playing music, cooking, sewing, reading, writing, and doing arts and crafts.
Other activities that often put us in this flow state are physical. This could be gardening, hiking, bike riding, yoga, golf, and any other physical activities we enjoy.
For ultimate happiness and health, I believe it’s important to pursue both creative and physical activities. Stimulating your mind and body leads to greater intelligence and a heightened state of awareness.
Some might say to get into a state of flow you need to get a hobby. I think perhaps this is true. When was the last time you heard someone say they have a hobby?
Hobbies seem to be something of the past. Today we are so busy. We get so caught up in work, family, relationships, pleasing other people, and technology that we forget to do the things we enjoy for ourselves.
This is where my list came into play. It ended up being a multi-page list of every hobby I ever had, every activity I enjoy, and every activity I wanted to try. I then made it a priority to do at least one “happiness activity” every week.
Taking time out of our regular day-to-day work and finding new ways to enjoy life is essential to our happiness and well-being.
If your life is very busy, do not be fooled into thinking you have no time for hobbies. Everyone has fifteen minutes available, even if it cuts into your sleep or email time.
Although fifteen minutes may not feel like enough time to get into a state of flow, it is enough time to feel joy and happiness. With a bit of practice, you might find you get into such a state of flow that fifteen minutes turns into an hour. Over time, you may find that these pursuits of happiness overtake the importance of busyness.
If you think you have no hobbies now, the best way to find out what you enjoy is to remind yourself what you enjoyed as a child. Did you previously enjoy baking? Or drawing, or playing music, or playing football?
Write yourself a list of every activity you ever enjoyed and every activity you’d like to try but haven’t yet. Pick one thing that you previously enjoyed immensely, and set yourself an appointment to give it a go again. When you are ready, set an appointment for one new activity you have never tried before.
Your life could be transformed by this one simple act: making it a priority to do the things you enjoy.
Ideally, you want to set time for this daily. I completely understand that this is difficult to do. At a bare minimum, you want to schedule it in weekly.
Personally, I like to set aside one day every week to go for a hike. But sometimes if I don’t have time for that, I like to pick up my flute and improvise. If I only have a spare fifteen minutes to do this, I find the time just flies by, and it only feels like five minutes.
Doing something like this is so good for my soul. I find that if I don’t schedule flow time, then I feel tired and overwhelmed with life. It is so important to me that I actually write it down in my diary and stick to it like any other important appointment.
We can all experience more joy in our lives. We just need to consciously choose to create it.
About Anna Shelley
Anna Shelley is a musician, artist, and muse based in Melbourne, Australia. She spends her time expressing her soul in weird and wonderfully creative ways. Go straight to her latest music, meditations, and musings, over here: AnnaShelley.com/oh-hai and visit her on Instagram here.