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Find Your Own Sense of Renewal

by Gretchen Rubin

To foster a sense of renewal, I’ve realized, it’s important to cultivate a sense of enthusiasm. I want to look forward to the future with anticipation, to get energy from the things I do—to have fun.

One of my Secrets of Adulthood is “What’s fun for other people may not be fun for me—and vice versa.” This sounds simple, but it actually was a huge breakthrough for me. So many things that other people consider “fun” are not fun for me, and it took me an astonishingly long time to realize that. Drinking alcohol, shopping, crossword puzzles…I just don’t enjoy those “fun” activities.

Even now, I have to remind myself that people go skiing because they honestly want to go skiing, not because they are made from a sterner moral fiber than I.

I think about this in the context of my family. If I want to have fun with my family, I need to make sure that we’re doing activities that—at least some of the time—are honestly fun for me. Otherwise, I just get bored and crabby.

Sometimes I get my fun vicariously, by watching my children enjoy activities that aren’t much fun for me. But I also try to steer our activities to things that we all find fun, because then I’m so much more enthusiastic.

This principle doesn’t only apply to children; fun with my husband, fun with my friends, fun with my colleagues. Have you found any good ways to have fun with others that’s also fun for you? Does taking the time and effort to have real fun contribute to your sense of renewal?

Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times and international bestseller, “The Happiness Project”—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Join us for “The Happiness Project: A Conversation with Gretchen Rubin” at the 2011 Pennsylvania Conference for Women.