Gretchen Rubin

Why it’s important — even selfless — to have fun.

This morning, I was struck by a Life Lesson.

New York City got a fair amount of sleet and snow last week, and although most of the sidewalks have been cleared, there are still big, uneven piles of icy snow around the curbs and on some parts of the sidewalks.

It can be tricky to walk across these patches, and it’s even harder to push a stroller through them. Our morning walk to school took much more energy and patience than usual.

I hardly noticed the aggravation, however, because on the way, the Big Girl and I were busy recapping her birthday party yesterday, and on the way home, I walked with a friend who lives two blocks from me.

I was so absorbed in my conversations that I only absent-mindedly noticed the inconvenience -- even when, at one point, I had to walk backwards and pull the stroller because I couldn’t push it across the snow.

It was only when I got home that I realized how difficult the walk had been.

There’s a Lesson for Life here, I think, about why it’s important to make the time and effort to have fun.

If you have plenty of fun in your life – if you make time to see friends, to learn about things that interest you, to do the things you enjoy, like reading or going to movies or hiking – you have a higher store of patience and tolerance.

On the other hand, when you don’t have much fun in your life, it’s easy to become preoccupied with the aggravations and frustrations. There’s nothing to distract you from your bad feelings.

It may seem selfish to focus on having more fun and happiness. But as I’ve seen dramatically proven in my own life this year, by working to be happier myself (and happiness takes a surprising amount of work), I’m far better able to make other people happier.

I’m less crabby. I laugh more easily. I find it easier to go out of my way to help other people. I’m less resentful, judgmental, and insecure.

And I don’t get as annoyed by little things, like having to push the stroller through snow.

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