People often tell me, “I want to get more fun out of life,” or “I want to spend more time pursuing my passions.” But they feel frustrated because they don’t really know how to have more fun or what they’re passionate about.
Ever felt that way? If so, ask yourself: “What did I do for fun when I was 10 years old?” Because if you loved doing something as a 10-year-old, you’d probably enjoy doing it now—whether in its original form, or in a more grown-up version. I was inspired to consider this question when I read eminent Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s memoir, Memories, Dreams, Reflections. Carl recalled that when he was 38 years old, he decided to start playing with building blocks again to tap into the enthusiasm he’d felt as a 10-year-old.
What did you love to do when you were a child?
Maybe you loved to walk through the woods with your dog, or ride your bike, or do arts and crafts or take photographs, or write short stories, or color in coloring books. What did I do for fun when I was 10 years old? No chess, no ice-skating, no painting. I worked on my “Blank Books.” For my 10th birthday, my uncle gave me a book that looked like an ordinary book, but with blank pages, titled Blank Book.
I filled my Blank Books with clippings, memorabilia, bits of information that interested me. A special series of my Blank Books were illustrated books of quotations. Every time I read a quotation I liked, I’d write it on a slip of paper, and when I saw a picture in a magazine that I liked, I’d cut it out, and I created my books by matching the quotations to the pictures.
Like child, like adult
Keeping up with my Blank Books was the main leisure activity of my childhood. Every day after school, I sat on the floor sorting, cutting, matching, copying and pasting while I watched TV. And what do I do for fun now that I’m an adult? Every week on my blog, gretchenrubin.com
, I post one of my favorite quotations and choose a beautiful photograph to illustrate it. And I enjoy this adult, professional activity in exactly the same way that I enjoyed making my Blank Books.
As my example shows, childhood fun can also point the way to adult career satisfaction. I have a friend who grew up with three dollhouses, who told me, “I played with dollhouses way past the point of social acceptability.” She’s now an interior designer. Another friend spent all his time talking into a wooden spoon in front of the mirror, and now he’s a newscaster.
William Wordsworth wrote, “The Child is father of the Man.” We can learn a great deal by reflecting on our childhood selves.
What did you do for fun when you were 10 years old?
Gretchen Rubin is the bestselling author of The Happiness Project
and Happier at Home.
Her newest book, Better than Before
, all about how we can develop positive habits, is scheduled for release in March, 2015. She is considered one of the most influential writers on happiness today, and has become an in-demand speaker and keynoter. You can read about Gretchen's adventures at GretchenRubin.com