Monday, February 12, 2007

Don't do what you want

I've hinted at this before, but we're not always good at knowing what makes us happy. Like most people, you get home from work and want to unwind. You turn on the TV or play some video games. You realize you don't have much to eat, so you have food delivered. It tastes good, but clearly it's not the healthiest choice.

There are some chores you could be doing, but it's easy to put those off for another night. Before you know it, it's just about bedtime. Are you happy?

I've played that game many, many times, and objectively, it didn't really make me happy. It's what I wanted, what I chose to do, at each step of the way, but in the end, I just ended up feeling tired, a bit lazy, and thinking about work the next day.

Imagine this:
  • You stop at the gym on the way home from work for an hour.
  • You pick up some groceries for two or three dinners.
  • You make dinner and eat it while listening to music.
  • You call your mom who you haven't talked to in a week.
  • You pay a few bills, send a few overdue emails to friends, and put away that box of things that's been sitting in the kitchen for the last week.
  • You sit in a nice comfy chair, read a book for an hour, and then head to bed.
I can pretty much guarantee that you'll be happier at the end of the night. Even though everything you did fell into the category of "things you didn't want to do", you:
Ate Healthier
Crossed a few things off your to-do list
Made connections with friends and family
Worked that brain of yours (even if all you read was a trashy romance novel)

The "easier" "happier" ways to spend your time won't always make you feel the way you think they will. Plus, then when the weekend rolls around, you won't have so many chores to do and since you didn't go to work, you won't need to unwind as much.

That's when you get to do the really fun stuff, the stuff that makes you happy while you're doing it.


jenny said...

It sounds easy, but it is hard to actually do it, when you are used to doing what you want and being lazy. I think the beginning is the most difficult, cause you have to give yourself a kick to actually do something you don't want to.But if you make it a habit, you will feel happier.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget those of us with kids who are super busy all night. We don't have a lot of choice as to how to spend our evening after work.

However, I agree with your point and thank you for your article.