I came to this realization this summer just a few weeks before reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, in which this very fact was stated as a “secret of adulthood.” The epiphany came to me after I took on a summer job as a “film festival coordinator,” which involved recruiting kids to make films and showcasing them a local community centre. I can’t say I loved it in the moment, but I was rather proud of its success in the end. Similarly, as dance coordinator at my high school a couple years ago, I hated the pressure of my job in the moment, but looking back, I would be down to do it again. The stress paid off in the end.
In thinking about what I wanted to do with my life (a very common pastime for arts students), I realized that although I loved to take on projects and to be involved in organizing and planning events, I really didn’t always enjoy the process. In fact, there were very few activities that I truly enjoyed in the moment. These include baking, and reading for pleasure and writing on topics of my choice. I may be crazy enough to be pursuing a career in the literary arts, but I at least have the common sense to know that only doing these three activities are not going to make me a living. But taking fog happiness into account (“the unexpected happiness you experience by doing activities that may cause you stress, anxiety, and dread”) really expanded my range of activities that I “enjoy.”
School, for me personally, has always been a matter of fog happiness. So is being busy. People always ask why I don’t cut back on my dozen extracurricular activities to reduce my stress levels and emotional instability, but even though I come home ready to die every night, I still love it. I love looking back on my days, on my life in general, and seeing everything I’ve accomplished and everything productive that I’ve done with my time.
I’ve found that this knowledge makes life easier because it takes off the pressure of demanding noticeable joy and excitement every day. It becomes enough to feel the overarching contentment when looking back on everything. I think that’s all we can hope for.