I saw an ad for Carnival Cruise lines. Their new slogan is: Choose Fun.
Isn’t that just the simplest thing you’ve ever heard? Take the cruise. Slide down the waterslide. Jump on the trampoline. Drink the umbrella drink. Watch the waves go by. Enjoy the sunset. Eat the food. Dance. Sing. Laugh. Fall in love. Perfect.
Although cruising isn’t exactly my idea of fun, I couldn't stop thinking about the tagline Choose Fun. I contend that I am too much in my head to be truly happy. I am always thinking about stuff. Not necessarily useful stuff. Just stuff. Always processing. Always wanting to find better processes. Always wanting better results. This simple advertisement has sent me down a rabbit hole of introspection.
Do I Choose Fun? Do I have enough fun? Am I having any fun? This reminds me of those bumper stickers: Be Happy --another catalyst for rabbit hole introspection. Am I happy? Am I Happy-ish? Happy...er? Is anyone happy? Is happiness a choice too? Are people who Choose Fun happier?
It is not an issue of discontent. Nor a lack of gratitude. It is not about wanting something more out of the world around me. Or even something different. It is about wanting more out of me! I am just a constant self-improvement project. Constantly striving to be better. Be more patient. Be more Zen. Be more peaceful. Be more productive. Be in better shape. Be in better health. Be more joyful. Be more fun.
Cue more introspection: Why do I have to be more? Why do I have to be better? Why do I have to be better at being me? Why can’t I just be?
I was always a planner. A worrier. A neatnik. Even when I was a little girl, I shared a room with my older teenage sister. When she wasn’t home, I would tidy her half of the room because it made me feel better. Now I do that with my youngest daughter. Old habits die hard. A sad statement that my idea of fun is tidying up.
One of my dear friends says that for better or worse, I am a Type A person. She claims that Type A people just aren’t as good at Choosing Fun. Even with success, she believes that Type A’s are too driven to simply relax and enjoy their lives. Driven to succeed. Driven by perfection. Driven to a fault. Driven to the point of restlessness. Always forward thinking and struggle with living in the now. I desperately want to disagree with her, but I am afraid she might be right. Even though I am my own boss, and live in paradise, I remain a workhorse. A rule follower. I watch what I eat. I watch how much I drink. I wear sunscreen. I color within the lines. And, sadly, I still sweat the small stuff.
I want to be one of those people who Choose Fun. Which isn’t to say that I don't have fun. I certainly do. I just have to pencil it in. It’s a little bit more (dare I say) work for me to have fun.
I feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland racing to the next thing on my perpetual To-Do list: Go to the grocery store. Make a healthy dinner for the family. Do the laundry. Write the thank you note. Walk the dog. Pay the bills. Buy the birthday present. Order the wedding gift. Plan the baby shower. Bake for the bake sale. Bring snacks for the field trip. Bring snacks for the volleyball game. Bring snacks for the potluck. Buy more snacks! Drive carpool. Exercise. Get a manicure. Lose weight. Do more squats. Clean out the closet. Plan the graduation party. Write a book. Have more projects in development. Get more sleep. Meditate. Do more. Do better.
I don’t think my To-Do list excludes me from feeling happiness. I just think it gets in the way of enjoying my fun. My sense of order and responsibility are noisier than my desire to just relax.
This weekend I thought a lot about those two words: Choose Fun. Yesterday, my husband, my daughter and I played tennis (quite possibly my favorite thing to do in the whole world). I was completely present as we played for hours, and we all had a blast. (Fun!) My husband wanted to stay and continue to play another match with friends. Since we had all driven in one car, I felt an immediate sense of panic about the time. I had errands to run, scripts to read, and laundry to do. I needed to let the dog out, start prepping dinner, and my daughter needed to clean up her room. But I started thinking about Choose Fun… and I said, “Okay.” My daughter and I grabbed some lunch, and then took a walk on the beach while my husband played more tennis. She was thrilled to be putting off cleaning her room for another hour or two, and I was thrilled to have the leisure time. So this whole concept of fun might actually be more about my perspective than my actions (well maybe it is a little about actions too). I guess I struggle with my relationship with fun. I am always putting a clock on it, and I think it needs to be a little more fluid. It was a beautiful day, we were all together as a family, and the messy room would still be waiting for us when we got back. That change in my mindset created the space in my day for fun (and dare I say happiness) that I might have otherwise missed.
I would love to be the girl who always says “yes” to having a drink after the tennis game. Or grabs an impromptu dinner with friends. Or eats more dessert (because dessert is fun!) and doesn’t worry about gaining weight. Let me be clear. I do all of those things on occasion, but it comes with an unnecessary sense of guilt… and there goes the fun, right out the window.
I admire people who know what makes them happy... and go for it.
I admire people who give themselves permission to put themselves first.
I admire people who don’t sweat the small stuff.
I want to be one of those people, but I have been this way my whole life. I am wired to be hyper-vigilant. But like I said, I am also a lifelong self-improvement project. So, if I want to change, I can change. I don’t want to be a different person, but I sure would love to lighten up a bit. Maybe like everything else, it just takes practice.
So, like any good Type A person, I am writing down the words Choose Fun... and adding it to my To-Do List.