Video: What Did You Do For Fun When You Were 10 Years Old?

2011 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2011 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2011 a happier year — and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — welcome! Last month’s theme was Resolutions, and last week’s resolution was to ask yourself: Are you a “yes” resolver or a “no” resolver? Did you try that resolution? Did it boost your happiness?

This month’s theme is Self-knowledge, and this week’s resolution is to Ask yourself: What you did you do for fun when you were ten years old?

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
How to choose the work that makes you happiest.
What do you find fun?–a question I find surprisingly difficult to answer.
Why it might not be helpful to ask yourself, “What’s my passion?”

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2011 Happiness Challenge. It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For the Challenge, each week I’ll post a video suggesting a resolution for you to consider. For more ideas for resolutions to try, check out the archives of videos here.

* I was thrilled to see that the great blog Inspired Type — “creative self expression, playing with typography in words that make me happy” — is a “happiness project.”

* Please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. To get the weekly video by email, right in your email in-box, you can:
— On the GretchenRubin channel page, after you subscribe, click “Edit Subscription” and check the box, “Email me for new uploads.” Or…
— Go to your main drop-down box, click “Subscriptions,” find the GretchenRubin channel, click “Edit Subscriptions,” and check “Email me for new uploads” there.

  • When I was 10, I did the same things for fun that I do now. I read books or played outside!

  • Kathy

    I’m tempted to saw that I’m too old to remember what I liked to do when I was 10! HA! But, I’m not. I remember loving jig saw puzzles and silly card games with my brother and cousins. I always loved (and still do) riding my bike, reading, browsing in the library, and coloring. I used to make big scribbles on paper and then color in the spaces. That still sounds appealing to me…but I quilt, instead. It’s almost the same thing. The important point about this, though, is to be comfortable in enjoying what you enjoy, right? Not feeling that there’s something wrong with you because you like coloring in small spaces. It’s taken me almost 50 years to get to the point where I feel that it’s OK. The Happiness Project has been instrumental in that acceptance. Thanks!

    • WakeupAmerica

      FUN! The world is up in flames – riots in Egypt, Tunisia, Greece, etc.
      However, here we are talking about what 10 year olds do for fun.
      Do most Americans realize that our country is broke and just as bad off as Egypt, etc.
      Wake up people!

      • Repsych

        I’m from Greece and I’m deeply concerned about the future of my country. I’m politically involved and I participate in political talks and peaceful demonstrations. This does not prevent me from wanting to be happy and fulfill my potentials.

  • I seriously was JUST talking to someone about this part of your book. I’m completely lost in terms of what career path to continue on and I’m drowning in things I think I should like doing. So I turned to this idea from THP.

    When I was 10, I read everything I could, I wrote my own fictional adventure stories, I took dance classes – ballet was my favorite, and I wouldn’t miss a summer at the swimming pool.

    • Careerinfo

      Great career info on Wall Street Journal and Huff Post.
      I don’t think you will find much useful career info here.
      Gretchen spent most of her life after school as a homemaker.

      • kelly

        I think finding what makes me happy is the key to finding the right career path for me. And Gretchen has a LOT of insight into happiness. Sorry to disagree, but I think I can find VERY useful information here.
        Thank you for the suggestion though.

  • LivewithFlair

    Digging! I wrote about this at Live with Flair today because I wondered what happened to make me stop digging for buried treasure in my yard!

  • I read books, talked to my friends, made up stories for my little brother (now the audience is my kids), got out my pencil and spent time drawing, wrote poems! thank you for this post since this made me glad to realize that I still do these for fun… 🙂

  • angelstar

    Hi Gretchen! Thanks for making the world happier. At ten I loved to walk to the little store and buy nickle and dime candy. It would always be a sunny day. Angel-Star, from

  • Repsych

    Gretchen, I like your post. What a great idea! We have to find the child within ourselves that got lost in all those rules. I enjoyed reading and writing and I do pretty much the same both as a job and as a hobby.

  • lyndsey

    I love this resolution! It was one of the more powerful ideas that stood out to me while reading the book. My mom even took it to heart and brought out her old sewing machine for some new projects this year — one of the hobbies she loved most from childhood. You can read about her experience here:

  • Peninith1

    I liked to read Nancy Drew mysteries. I would go to the Bath bookstore and buy one for a dollar, as would my friend Noelle. In the morning we would each read the one we bought, then we would have lunch and SWITCH for the afternoon reading the other mystery. Also this was about the age at which I stopped buying books of paper dolls at the 5 & dime and would draw them myself, and make up outfits for them and color and cut them out. I certainly still love reading mysteries (and have written one) and play with scraps of fabric in my quilting and sewing hobby. The seed has not fallen far from the tree!

  • Heidi

    I loved to read and play school and sing and play my guitar. This all makes sense as I am now an elementary music teacher!!!! Love it!

  • gs

    When I was ten, I read a lot of British childrens’ books by Enid Blyton. I read interesting novels with strong female characters like Little Women. My family lived pretty close to the financial edge, so I didn’t have access to movies, toys, trips, etc. I had a notebook in which I would copy favorite passages from books. That was fun. My main source of real fun was daydreaming and making up stories in my head with my favorite characters–mental fanfiction, you could say.

  • Debora

    I read as many books as I could carry home from the library , worked crossword puzzles, played outside with my little dog, and went swimming in nearby lakes and the ocean. I still do all of these except one, don’t do crosswords anymore unless I’m on a plane.

  • Helen Seagle

    Wow, for the first time your videos are playing really well. The quality is much better now and the words are no longer cut off. Kudos for figuring that stuff out!

  • Hi – just found this site, wonderful. My driving passion since I was 19 is to work in film, films that make a difference to people. Finally at 52 I am doing it! it is never too late… to be happy or to do what you love. thanks for this

    • Lbschultz

      Great for you!!!!
      How did you go about finding work in this area?

  • Gretchen,
    I love your sight. I am a happiness coach and your quotes are so wonderful. I am passing them on. I especially like Inspired Type. What a wonderful way to start today.

  • Ginnyrosselli

    OOPS I misspelled site…

  • Lyssa

    I am on the last pages of your book and joined your Happiness Toolbox a few days ago…I love them both!! 🙂 You have insprired me to take my childhood passions of reading & writing more seriously. After reading your book I realized that it is possible to do what you love & make a living at it…making your passion your life’s work can provide me with the beautiful & prosperous exixtence I have been longing for! Thank you so much for doing what you do!! 🙂

  • When I was 10, if I can remember correctly, I loved office supplies. I was happy making agendas, using post-its, stapling things, and I even had a sign-in sheet for my bedroom. You had to say who you were, why you were there, and what time it was. I remember reading one that said, “Mom, To Wake You Up, 7:30 am”. Funny. At 10 years old, I also would dream a lot about interviewing people and telling their stories. I started visiting local television stations and meeting news anchors and forging friendships. Then, I’d write the Deans of Universities, large and important ones like Yale, and ask what I needed to do to become the best version of myself.

    I didn’t end up going to Yale, and I work at a TV station, but behind the scenes, and I love making check lists, and am still trying to become the best version of myself.

  • Love Walter Murch. His sound work on Apocalypse Now is some of the most groundbreaking ever! People might not realize that this movie was the first use of 5.1 surround sound. If Walter started when he was 10, practice definitely made perfect in his case.

    As for what I did when I was 10, I remember making stop-motion flipbook “movies” with a Polaroid camera and my action figures. Don’t know if I can do that nowadays, but at least I’ve got a (very low-level) job in the film industry, so it’s comforting to know that I’ve achieved my 10-year-old dreams in that sense.

    • gretchenrubin

      I meant to mention the title of Murch’s fantastic book in the post — IN THE
      BLINK OF AN EYE. Fascinating. That’s where I found that quotation, and the
      whole book is terrific.

  • When I was 10 we moved, and I was pretty shy so I spent a lot of time at home. My Dad was my best friend then and I have some wonderful memories of helping him in the garage or puttering in the garden. He’d take me to the hardware store with him, and I’d hand him tools for whatever the fix-it project of the day was. Dad liked to whistle and hum some favorite tune while he worked, and I loved just being with him. We lost Dad to Alzheimer’s last October, but my memories of him will always bring happiness.

  • Happy Mama

    10 was a bad year. My parents divorce became final that year and my mother became an alcoholic and it started a downward slide of struggle and sadness until she died when I was 28. At 10 I was raising my brother and, in a way, my mother. My only happiness was found at school and in friends. I did not have time for childhood fun admidst the chaos, responsibilities and worry. I know too many others can relate to that miserable fact. I can sift around the ashes of that non-childhood to find what made me happy then and there ARE some things but they really got overshadowed.

    Ironically I am typing this while wearing my old sweatshirt that says, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” I really believe that. These days I am a warrior for happiness because my mother’s sadness led me to feel guilty for being happy to any degree. I am in the process of exorcising that misguided ghost.

    I like the quote from George Bernard Shaw, “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself.” For me that quote means I can’t get many clues about happiness from my past. Instead I can try things out in the present and see what feels right and fun and happy NOW. And I can have a helluva lotta fun doing so.

    Lastly I need to note that, despite it all, I have found optimism, hope and laughter all the way along.

    • gretchenrubin

      You’ve had such a tough time of it. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve faced so
      many big challenges. Sounds as though you’ve done a lot to figure out how to
      be happy, even given those circumstances. I love those quotations.

    • Happy Mama. My parents too divorced when I was 10. It sent me into a depression that got worse at times in high school and college.

      Finally, I remember a day in my junior year, when I tore down all of the negative affirmations I’d written to myself on the ways, and “created” myself as happy.

      It worked. I’m very happy today. I’m also happy that you seem to have grown because of the divorce as well.

      • Happy Mama

        Christopher… you are a sweetheart to take the time to comment. I really appreciate it. Your story helps me feel normal! 🙂 Anyone who thinks divorce doesn’t affect kids deeply is seriously deluded. I like how you confronted your negative outlook so early… insightful, smart guy. I am 41 and still working on convincing myself it’s okay to be happy. I recently came up with a kind of mantra saying “my mom was unhappy and that is sad but it’s NOT my fault and I deserve to be happy now”. That sounds so obvious but tell that to the stubborn 10-year-old inside me. Reminding myself of that – and really hearing and believing it – gives me an immense sense of joy and freedom. I’d love to hear specific ways you created yourself as happy. Thanks again for writing!

  • Funny, I was just talking about this subject recently with a friend. When I was ten years old, I loved to take my notebook and pencils to any of my secret hideouts and write stories. My favorite nook was in the branches of an old willow tree. From up high I could see all around me, but I felt hidden from everyone else. I loved the feeling of writing in my own special place. I have recently begun free lance writing and have the hope of writing a book someday. My life has been full as a home school mom and childbirth educator, I have lots of stories I’d love to tell.

  • Wendy

    I’ve been offline for a week, so I’m just catching up on your videos. When I was 10 I absolutely loved reading…I’d read whenever I could, even with a torch under the covers until after midnight, just to finish a book. And your question has made me realise that I haven’t read a book for 9 years !! I’m going down to the local library tomorrow to choose a book.

  • Marge

    It’s so true. When I was 10, I liked to read books,, walk in the woods with my dog, and to climb trees. I still get the greatest joy from reading and from walking in the woods with my dog. I don’t climb trees anymore, but love to lean against them and enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. I had a very happy childhood, and now, after the sadness of divorce, I am finding my roots again.

  • Bird of paradise

    I didn’t have fun when I was ten years old. My father died and shortly afterwards my mother married an alcoholic. They both abused me. I wasn’t allowed to grieve the death of my father.

  • Queentess1953

    I used to love playing with paper dolls, making cards, creating scenes and houses from paper, crayons, tissue, etc. I remembered all this as I sat making home-made valentines and sending them to friends and family. I am hearing back from people who received them who just loved them! I spent an entire evening, cutting, glueing, addressing, and stamping. What a joy!

  • EmeraldEyes

    I have days where I’m sure about what makes me happy. Then someone says or implies something that makes me think that maybe what I like doing isn’t such a great idea. I sometimes get ideas of what I think I’d like to do by watching what other people enjoy doing. I see someone doing something they enjoy, and I think, “Oh, I’d love to do/try that.”

    I can tell you that this wishy-washy-ness comes from my childhood. My stepfather was 22 years older than my mother. He is also a WWII veteran. So when I was a child, he came from a time when things were much tougher. He saw most things of enjoyment as foolishness. So, when I expressed an interest in something, he discouraged it in some way. To this day, I feel like I truly don’t know what I like. I try things, and when they feel comfortable, I get bored with them, unsure of whether I truly like it or not.

  • When I was 10, I played outside everyday with about 10 other kids who lived on my block. Baseball, tag, football, hockey, swimming, hide and seek, manhunt.

    I feel so bad for kids today who don’t live near other kids. Just to think of the exercise kids could be getting without realizing it. It is so valuable for children to have access to other children when at home.

  • Silvina

    When I was 10 I used to draw and paint a lot… and love it. Now at 40 I’m trying to connect with that again 🙂