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Life can't be all fun and games

I know in the nitty gritty of my heart, I'm not okay with a life philosophy that centers on "if it's fun I'm here, and if it's not, I'm gone".


Don't think of what we're talking about as fun, then. Think of it as joy. Or fulfilling. Or satisfying.


Even the most joyful life isn't all peaches and cream. Sometimes it rains when we wanted it sunny. Sometimes a friend cancels when we wanted to do something together. Sometimes accomplishing something means working through a period of frustration.


Life will naturally throw lemons at us fairly regularly. But what we don't need is to squirt life with artificial lemon juice to prepare us.


Most people divide the world into productive uses of time and unproductive uses of time. Productive things are housework and going to work, home repairs, shopping and so on. They are generally the things we don't want to do. Unproductive uses are entertainment and fun. Then there's the gray area that depends on how joyless someone's life is. Some people may feel that creating only practical things is productive, like sewing curtains. Some may feel that any creativity is productive, like sewing a quilted wall hanging. How guilty you feel while doing something when there's a sink full of dirty dishes may be a helpful indicator of where you draw the line ;-)


I suspect you think we're suggesting you eliminate the productive stuff so kids can spend all their time on the unproductive "fun" stuff, eliminate all the frustrations in life so kids' lives are smooth sailing, eliminate the work and hardship so that life is only fun.


But that isn't it at all.


What we're talking about is shifting your priorities and viewpoint so that you approach life from a different angle. Getting there is sort of a multi step process.


1) What is absolutely necessary?


While people need to eat, we don't need to eat a home cooked meal every night or even 3 square meals a day. There's a huge amount of flexibility about how we eat but most of us have put up road blocks that make it seem like we only have one or two choices.


If you see something as a necessity it will feel like there's an authority figure behind you making you do it. If you give yourself permission to do only what you want to do, then that eliminates the authority figure. You'll be in a better position to see your family and wanting to cook a healthy meal for them rather than subconsciously categorizing that as another one of those "have tos".


2) What do you care about most?


For instance I realized that my goal of saving money was interfering with my goal of helping my daughter take more regular showers. She wanted the room warm but my frugal nature didn't want to bring down the space heater from the attic. And it seemed silly to buy kids shampoo when the adult shampoo was already there. And it seemed wasteful to buy body wash when there's a whole stack of free hotel soap that's been trickling into the house for years.


I realized the first goal was setting up huge artificial road blocks in the path to the second goal. What I was basically saying was that money was more important than my daughter's comfort. But looking at it objectively, I realized $10 (or whatever it took) to help showers be less painful was a really small price to pay to eliminate the emotional price we were both paying by not spending the money.


If you set a high priority on maintaining the division between fun and necessity then that will interfere with a goal of having helpful kids. You might be able to achieve the second, but you'll be setting up artificial barriers that you'll need to work around. We can't help you work around the barriers. But we can help you eliminate the barriers if you're willing to change your viewpoint and your priorities.


And it really isn't as painful as it seems! It's just fear of the potential consequences that makes it look painful.


Getting there and letting go of the anchors that hold you back can be painful hard work, but once you're there being more joyful and having a more joyful family is a huge payback.


(There're more steps involved but I never thought to write them all out. They just kind of flow when I'm answering the "chores" question. ;-)


I was checking my priority, and also trying to clarify where I stand for you all who don't know me well. I would imagine that for some people, in the world because I see them, that fun is absolutely their god, the thing they'd do anything for. I'm saying, I have a personal line that I'm not willing to cross.


Most of us have been where you are, where life is divided into things we have to do and things we want to do. And we've found that mindset doesn't help lead to kids who want to help. That priority is a road block.


The point people are trying to make is that by shifting your view point and rearranging your priorities you can reach the goals you have for your children.


(You also have to eliminate those goals and accept that the goals will be a side effect. If you're giving expecting people to give in return it will very likely backfire. If you're giving because you find joy in it, others very likely will pick up your joy and find value in your model. Generosity will more likely generate generosity than subconsciously putting your giving on a pan scale and expecting someone to eventually give enough to balance out the scale.)


If you want to hold onto the priorities you have, we can't help you because we've found those priorities need to be let go of to get what you say you want.


What you're in essence saying is that you want to swim and you want to hold onto the side. People here have tried swimming while holding onto the side and we know that holding on interferes. We can help you let go to swim but we can't help you hold on to swim.



Joyfully Rejoycing
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