You should make sure to have enjoyable times in your life,
without jeopardizing your overall progress and goals.
Do you remember the line from the grade-school textbook popular many years ago?
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
As grown-ups, we don’t really need to play the same way Jack did (jungle gym, hide-and-seek, etc.). But we still need to do some interesting and “fun” things in some of our non-working time, both in the evenings and on the weekend.
Below are some of the things you might like to do for the “enjoyment” part of your day or week.
There are two main categories of reading:
Reading for pleasure – This includes such books as science fiction, murder mystery, horror, medical thriller, and many others.
Reading for development – This includes books or other materials that provide useful information about particular topics, such as using a computer, saving money, installing sheet rock, feeding goldfish, and so on. Textbooks, “how-to” publications, and this booklet all fall into the “development reading” category.
Pleasure Reading or Development Reading?
People often wonder how much of their reading should be for pure pleasure and how much should be “developmental.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with reading for pleasure, and development reading is always useful. So a good mix of both would probably make the most sense.
Your local library has a large collection of both kinds that you can read on the spot or take out on loan at no charge. In addition, the librarians are very good at suggesting and locating books that “fit” what you like to read, and they are always quite willing to do so.
Exercise: What types of reading-for-pleasure books do you really like (or would enjoy getting into)? What kinds of “development” reading topics would be helpful to you in your daily living or your future plans?
It’s certainly true that watching particular television programs can be very enjoyable. For example, in the sports area we have professional football, baseball (including the World Series), and—every two years—either the summer or winter Olympics. CNN and other news stations keep us up to the minute on world events. Public television stations offer interesting and informative programs on just about any topic.
However, there are two important questions we should always ask ourselves before we sit down in front of the tube:
- What benefit am I personally getting out of this? and
- If I wasn’t watching television at this particular moment, what other more interesting or more worthwhile things could I be doing?
If you can honestly say, “I’m really enjoying this playoff game and I can’t think of anything else that would be more important to me at this moment,” by all means, go ahead and watch.
If, on the other hand, you’ve just come home, turned on the TV, flipped through a few channels, and come across a cops-and-robbers movie from the late 1950’s, you should probably bite the bullet, zap the TV at that point, and turn to the more important task of making a list of questions you would like to ask at the job interview tomorrow.
Turning on the TV as an automatic, habit-driven way of spending time is a major hazard for all of us. We need to try out best to make sure that whenever we’re watching TV, it’s for a good reason and not just because “there’s nothing else to do.” The fact is, there are a lot more interesting and important things we can (and should) be doing with our spare time, other than simply sitting in front of the tube.
Exercise: About how many hours a week do you spend watching television? How much of this is intentionally planned as part of your genuine enjoyment activities, and how much is “just because it’s there?” Are you satisfied with this arrangement, and if not, what could you do to change it?
Sports and Exercise
If you currently have (or are applying for) a job that involves hard physical labor, your best bet for after-hours enjoyment may be reading or some other non-intensive activity.
However, if your job involves mainly sitting, standing, or walking around (for example, as a receptionist or sales clerk), your “enjoyment program” should probably include some fairly vigorous activity that is also fun to do.
Walking, hiking, bike riding, playing company softball or other pick-up games with friends or co-workers, etc. are all excellent ways to get some healthy recreation as well as interact with interesting and friendly people. Local cities or municipalities often have free or low-cost recreational programs for residents, and these are certainly worth checking out.
Back to School, Anyone?
When we were younger and “had” to go to school (as well as eat our spinach and take out the trash), we probably didn’t think of going to class as a source of personal enjoyment.
As adults, however, the situation is quite different, because we can now
- pick and choose what kinds of additional instruction and training we would like to get—for pleasure, further career progress, or any other reason.
- sign up for classes that are tailor-made for working people and other adults, including night courses, weekend courses, and even online courses we can work on at home, any time of the night or day.
Working hard on and succeeding in courses we don’t “have” to take but choose to take for our own personal reasons can be highly enjoyable and can give us a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Except for the most rural areas, just about every city or town offers many possibilities for additional coursework and study. Local school districts often provide adult education programs in the evenings and/or weekends. For people within striking distance of a community college, there is a wealth of both general education and vocational courses to choose from.
Back to Church, Anyone?
In the Friendships module, we suggested that an ongoing personal relationship with God is the greatest source of support and encouragement we can possibly have. It should come as no surprise that we believe a strong, two-way relationship with God will provide a great source of personal enjoyment and self-fulfillment as well.
Although it is possible to have some degree of relationship with God without actually going to church, this is sort of like watching a drive-in movie while you’re sitting outside on a tree limb looking through binoculars.
We would suggest and recommend that if you don’t already go to church, you “take the plunge” by attending a church or other religious organization of your choice. Local newspapers regularly publish church service announcements giving the meeting time and other details. These can help you pick and choose which church you would like to “try out.”
We’re quite sure you’ll get a warm reception, and that no one will try to push you into a greater degree of personal involvement than you are comfortable with.
It’s also quite possible to attend some church-related programs other than the worship service itself. Depending on the particular church, these can include bible study, presentations on various topics, discussion groups, sports and outings, and many other kinds of activities.