From her excellent blog The Happiness Project
Two of my favorite Secrets of Adulthood remind me to Be Gretchen: “Just because something is fun for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s fun for you – and vice versa” and “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.”
People also assume that they in fact do enjoy what they think they should enjoy – e.g., they enjoy going to the theater, because going to the theater is a fun thing to do. Nope! Not true. There are so many “fun” things that I don’t enjoy one bit, like skiing, drinking wine, going to concerts, eating pasta, shopping. And I love to do many things that other people dread doing – cleaning out closets, for example. I beg my friends to let me help them clean out their closets.
My friend Michael Melcher wrote an outstanding (and quite funny) book called The Creative Lawyer; he also has a terrific blog. The book is aimed at helping lawyers find more job satisfaction – whether within law or outside of law – but it’s also a valuable resource for anyone trying to understand himself or herself better.
Here’s a quiz, lightly adapted from The Creative Lawyer, to help you figure out your interests. Not what you wish interested you, but what actually interests you.
Before I have a go at answering Gretchen’s questions, let’s take a look at her advice on how to approach the questions…
You need to pay close attention to yourself. The better you understand your true likes and dislikes, the better able you are to make decisions – in work and leisure – that will make you happy. It’s not possible to build a happy life, filled with enthusiasm and engagement, based on the way that you wish you were. For better or worse, we’re all stuck with ourselves.
OK, time to give it a shot…
- What part of the newspaper do you read first?
I very rarely read newspapers, to be honest. But when I do I normally flick through the newsy bits and get straight to the entertainment section and the funnies.
- What are three books you’ve read in the past year?
“Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” by Philip Glenister
“He Kills Coppers” by Jake Arnott
“A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess
- As a child, what did you do in your free time?
Hehehe – I used to go up to my room, put my records on and imagine I was performing in little shows. And I hafta confess that when I have the flat to myself and the mood takes me, I still do. I just call it “exercise” these days.
- What’s a goal that has been on your list for a few years?
Lose weight, to enable me to perhaps pursue some more interesting ways of spending my time.
- What do you actually do with your free time? [This is perhaps the most helpful question. I finally switched careers from law to writing when it dawned on me that I was always writing books in my free time.]
Mostly immersed in various online worlds – chatting with friends on Facebook, or Luigi’s and doing a lot of daydreaming.
- What types of activities energize you?
The sort of activities a woman my age shouldn’t be wasting her time doing. But, as Gretchen said, this isn’t a quiz about what should make you happy, it’s about what does make you happy. And dammit, dressing up as a bloke and playing the fool does energise me. I love putting together costumes and skits and whatnot. Always have done. Many years passed without me doing this sort of thing, but then I fell in with the right crowd and it’s all coming back… much love to my girls the Lu-Las for not just accepting “The Guv”, but for encouraging him.
- What famous people intrigue you?
I’ve got to say top of the list is French and Saunders, simply because they did the ‘dressing up and playing the fool’ bit so damn well.
Also my lovely friends at Luigi’s including Jack and Mickey who have their wonderful comedy project The World of the Absurd – a project so joyful I can’t help but think “Ooo! Ooo! Can I play?” every time I see it.
So Gretchen, you ask…
Have you found any good ways to understand yourself better?
Yeah. But nothing I haven’t heard before. As my gorgeous, daft-as-a-brush husband once said, I’m silly, and it’s a great thing to be.
Thanks for the quiz, Gretchen.
To read more from Gretchen Rubin, visit The Happiness Project. She’s also on Twitter, under the username @gretchenrubin