I feel kinda silly back-tracking after my post yesterday about being content with my boring life, but after reading the following passage in our book group's monthly selection, I've had to change my position a bit:
"... challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. If you do new things- visit a museum for the first time, learn a new game, travel to a new place, meet new people- you're more apt to feel happy than people who stick to more familiar activities.
This is one of the paradoxes of happiness: we seek to control our lives, but the unfamiliar and the unexpected are important sources of happiness." -The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
I realize now that although I appreciate the break from heavier responsibilities and scary new challenges around every corner, I still need to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone if I'm to be not only content but also happy. I've always loved visiting new places, trying new foods, and learning new things but it seems like I've gotten too busy, scared of failure, tired, and, honestly, too boring to put forth much effort lately. I did notice that in the quote it mentioned "successfully dealing" with a situation, and I guess that's where I keep getting stuck. I'm so scared of trying new things and failing miserably that I'm missing out on a greater measure of happiness.
I wish this great epiphany meant that I was suddenly ready to conquer the world, or at the very least to tackle some new challenge. Unfortunately, I can't even think of what I want to attempt. I'm not the type to do skydiving or bungee jumping, and I don't have a lot of disposable income for trying out new hobbies at this point. So what "new" thing can I do to stretch myself? Maybe it's time to visit a new park, invite people over for game nights again, and attend every social function I hear about. The author of "The Happiness Project" doesn't really mention how to figure out what you'd like to do in the first place- her solution was to start a blog, but I think I'm a bit beyond the novelty of that at this point! I'll have to give this some thought.
So, what do you do to keep your life interesting? What do you do with your free time? What challenges have you faced and successfully dealt with recently? Any thoughts?