Gretchen Rubin

One key to happiness is finding more time to read.

My one of my chief resolutions has been to spend more time on books – reading, writing, and making books.

One sub-resolution was “Find more time to read books.” I’m puzzled by my reading. I seem to get more reading done than most people, and yet I feel like I’m never reading. It has been hard for me to figure out how to do more reading, because I couldn’t figure out when I was doing any reading.

I feel like I’m always working, or spending time with my children, or sleeping. Sometimes the Big Man and I watch a little TV.

Last night, I had a huge revelation about my reading style: I don’t like to read in bed before going to sleep. I love to read in bed during the day. I love to read all day long. But I don’t particularly like the before-going-to-sleep read, which is the most common time to read.

Why not? I’m sleepy. My mind wanders. I keep thinking of things I should do before I turn out the light, so I keep jumping out of bed. It just doesn’t seem like “real” reading.

Now that I understand my resistance to before-bed reading, maybe I can juggle my schedule to do my reading at another time. I’ve been trying to lengthen that before-bed period, without much success. Now I see I should try to find another angle.

Ironically, because I love to read, it’s often the last thing on my to-do list. I try to make myself check off as many items as I can before I allow myself to flop down with my book. But another of my resolutions is “Make time for fun” and I’m trying to be better about making time. For instance, I LOVE David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green, but I’ve been reading it for far too long. I need to make more time for it.

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Today’s New York Times had a great article by Brad Melekian, All Child-Play and No Workouts Make Dad an Unfit Boy. Bottom line: “Parenthood demonstrably reduces physical activity.”

Why? Some reasons: because parents have to negotiate with each other to get exercise time; because they’re exhausted; because they want to spend that time with their kids; because they assume that if they can’t do a proper work-out, there’s no point in getting a little exercise; and because they use their kids as an excuse to skip the gym. But even though it's tough to exercise when you have kids, it's worth the effort -- for long-term health benefits AND short-term mood boosts.

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