Today’s article is going to be short and sweet, but it’s a topic that deserves a discussion. Today I had a brief conversation with a co-worker. Let’s call her Jen. It was the usual conversational small talk, but then we got on the topic of school. I’m taking the summer off of school, but as you well know, I’m not taking a break. I spend my days reading about general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics etc. When I was mentioning this to Jen, It became apparent that she didn’t agree with my life choices. The conversation detoured to my need for a life. Apparently I need to have fun.
Here’s the thing though. I am having fun. I run, fish, drink beer, and I’m generally in a joking sort of mood. I also truly enjoy, and find fun in reading a textbook. I think that there is a deep disconnect that happens in America between having fun as an individual and the type of fun that society tells us we should be having. We are told that “leisure” has to revolve around hanging out on the beach, going on a bender, traveling to exotic places but the most important thing is, you have to “shut off your brain”. Now don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that going places and experiencing different cultures is important, but I hate the idea of turning off your brain. I believe that a better way to think about leisure is to be mindful. Being present in the moment as opposed to letting your mind race with worries about tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong, I struggle with this, but I am making a conscious effort to be better about it.
This “mindfulness” culture is growing in popularity and I’m a believer. The best part is that you can keep your leisure time the same, you just have to tweak your mindset. Go on a hike, but instead of thinking about the big project that’s looming, focus on your surroundings. Feel your footsteps on the ground. Notice how the breeze hits your face, hell focus on a single hair and really feel the stimuli travel up from the receptor to your cortex. GIVE YOUR MIND A BREAK while still exercising it. This is good practice in all facets of life, my suggestion is that you try this in the shower to practice, be present for the experience. The added bonus is that this will gradually increase your focus and make you more efficient.
Note: If you want to know more about mindfulness, Google “mindfulness meditation”.
Don’t let anyone else tell you what’s fun. I have friends who swear by exercise (mostly healthcare providers), but talk to someone who’s picking onions in a field and their perspective might be different. Don’t be afraid to be nerdy, I hear it’s all the rage nowadays. People always talk about how you should “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. If you’re reading this I’ll assume that you at least have a minor interest in science. Let that grow in to a true love and passion for the field and soon you’ll see that it’s no longer work. It’s fun.