That happiness book I'm reading (slowly, I know, I should be long done with it already) makes mention of how important it is to make time for the things that make you happy, no matter how seemingly large or small they are:
"[A]llowing ourselves to engage in activities we enjoy can actually greatly enhance our performance at work. But simply doing them is not enough to get results [. . . ] When your brain conceives of family dinner or Sudoku or fantasy football or a phone call with a friend as a "waste of time," it won't be able to reap its inherent benefits. But if you change the fulcrum so that you conceive of such free time as a chance to learn and practice new things, to recharge your batteries and connect with others, you'll be able to leverage the power out of that rest time and return stronger than before."
~Achor, pg. 73-74
This idea has altered how I approach my "free" time in the evenings, as well as how I see how the hubby spends his free time, not just because it's clear that everyone needs time to decompress and do "fun" things, but because the list above (in the quotation) is a great example of the range of things people may find enjoyable while others do not. I'm not about to join a fantasy football league and I generally dislike phone calls, but I know people who get great enjoyment out of both who would never want to sit and watch Project Runway or America's Next Top Model with me while I text back and forth with my sister: "I didn't like that outfit either! I hope she gets kicked off this week!" "OMG she is CRAZY!"
It seems shallow, but per Achor, this is time I take to recharge and connect with others. Outside of work, school, and my own home, I don't spend time connecting with anyone. Now, that said, those three locations give me plenty of connecting but it's not always light and relaxing. Work is about work, school is about schoolwork and wrestling with serious academic concerns, and home involves too many discussions about money (or lack thereof). Sometimes I really just need to critique someone's ability to smize, you know? (If you watch ANTM, you know.)
Similarly, the hubby likes to get on his computer, put on some headphones, and pretend he's shooting people. Will I ever want to do that? Probably not. I can't even stand to be in the same room when he's playing because the conversations he and the other guys have on there grate on my nerves so much. But it's his time to do something that lets him relax and connect with others.
Sometimes, for me, it's just about getting lost in some characters and (what I think is good) TV writing, like The Vampire Diaries, which is easily my favorite show on TV right now. I think Grey's Anatomy is good this season. Dancing with the Stars is always a guilty pleasure.
And then there's the non-TV fun: blogging, of course - but even more than that, reading other blogs and Twitter. There's Word with Friends and Hanging with Friends.
Then there are things like taking Nate to the playground (which I've been trying to do every weekend, sometimes both Saturday and Sunday). We're going to be cooped up more come winter, so I'm trying to get as much outdoor playtime in as possible right now. Plus, it gets us away from the TV, gives him a break from his usual toys, and lets him use his muscles and motor skills in different ways. Sometimes there are other kids around, so there are opportunities to interact (although, admittedly, I'm not one to spend much time talking to other parents).
The point is, there's a reason that it's common to hear someone say things like this are "good for you" - because they are! When you don't allow yourself time to decompress, your brain gets trapped in a negative pattern and you stop being able to see opportunities for happiness and enjoyment in all areas of your life. So you have to make the time for the things you love and that bring you joy, no matter what someone else thinks about it.
What are the things you do that help you stay balanced and find happiness?