I’m working my way through my advance copy of Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Happier at Home. I’ll have more to say about it when it’s officially released in early September, but an intriguing theme is fighting the urge to “keep it simple.” Simplicity of a certain style is much in vogue these days (see, oh, Real Simple). And certainly, there’s no point in cluttering one’s life with stuff, or crowding activities onto one’s schedule that don’t make anyone particularly happy.
But sometimes, in our quest for simplicity, we are actually choosing ease over the opportunity for something more meaningful. The tagline for the book is “choose the bigger life.” Sure, you could not have people over for dinner because it’s a lot of work. You could skip the family day trips so everyone can nap in their beds at the exact right time. You can scale down your career ambitions because, while you’ve mastered your current job, the hours are good and the pay is decent, so why rock the boat?
But here’s a different question: what are you saving your energy for? There’s another image in Happier at Home of someone saving her expensive truffle oil for a special occasion, only to see it go bad in the bottle. Children won’t get to repeat a childhood. Someday, sooner than we’d all like, the friends who could come over for dinner will not be available to do so. The years pass by and the somedays become no longer. So spend out now.
I’ve been thinking of this a lot this year. Two months ago, I wrote a post about creating a summer of saying “yes.” We’ve been trying to err on the side of doing more this summer, seizing our weekends to explore our new(ish) state. This past Sunday we drove out to the Reading, PA fair. This little carnival looked, from a distance, like a scar on a green field, but up close featured all sorts of things perfect for pre-schoolers. For $10 you could ride as many rides as you want, and so we rode little Ferris wheels and miniature trains and in little planes that went up in the air. The kids took in the cows, goats and pigs. Even on weekday nights there is possibility. Last night, the kids probably would have been happy to watch TV but I took them swimming instead, watching the sunset from water that soon became warmer than the air.
Saying yes is tiring. Of course it’s tiring. But doing nothing is tiring, too, when you have little ones. I can be tired in a smaller life or tired in a bigger one. Why not try for the latter?
In other news: I’m working on the second part of the “What the Most Successful People Do...” trilogy. The second ebook will cover weekends. Have you changed up your weekends to get more out of them? If so, I’d love to hear about it! If you’d like a weekend time makeover, I’m hoping to put a few of those in the new ebook as well. Let me know.
I met lots of great people at BlogHer, and I’m looking forward to featuring their blogs and other blogs over the next few months. For instance, there’s Jessica Lahey, a middle school teacher from New Hampshire who also writes about education for the New York Times and elsewhere. Be sure to check out her thoughts at Coming of Age in the Middle.
Photo courtesy flickr user semicolonth