Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Can You Choose What You Like To Do?


This phrase really resonated with me when I read it in the Happiness Project.  When I saw it in my calendar today, I come back to same thought I had when I first heard it: gardening.
I really like the idea of gardening.  I like the idea of little pots of herbs and vegetables tumbling over on a back deck. I love in the summer when my friends give me their bounties of homemade basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers - last year, I had a field day making salsa and pesto from all these goodies.  I always think "I should do this!!"
Matt planted a whole bunch of flowers around our mailbox last year.  He did all the hard work of planting, and asked me to do the upkeep of watering.
Good thing he knows me well enough to know I’d forget after a week.

I really like the idea of gardening, but when it comes right down to it, I realize I don't actually like gardening.  I like to be outside.  I like the way flowers look.  I like fresh grown veggies.  I hear people say that weeding is therapeutic to them and there's not a single ounce of me that can relate to that.  I can think of a hundred other things I’d rather do besides be in my yard. I just don't like gardening.
I also don't like scrapbooking.  I don't like hiking.  I don't like concerts that don't have lyrics.   I don't like bowling.  These are all things that somewhere along the line, I've felt like I should like or I've tried to make myself like doing.  It feels kind of nice to just embrace the fact that I don't really like these things - but my brain still keeps fighting against this concept.

I like writing.  I like dancing.  I like snowboarding.  I like sitting on a couch with my feet curled up under me talking to a friend until I've lost track of the hours.  I like reading books.  I like cooking and reading recipe magazines.  I like doing crafts.  I like lifting weights.  I like popular, top 10, overplayed music. 

Isn't a weird concept?  That you don't really choose what you like to do?  I often wonder if I did something more often - gardening, for example - I'd learn to like it.  After all, I didn't really like running when I started.  But then again, I didn't dislike it.  I did it initially because I didn't know what else to do after I stopped cheerleading.  I've done it to lose weight, to get over break ups, to manage stress and to complete an accomplishment.  But this year, I've realized I've just been running because, well, I like it.  And so maybe I have all along…
I'm a bit torn on this idea.  It seems fairly obvious to me, when I think about my likes and dislikes.  All of them are things I either tried because they looked appealing to me (snowboarding, crafting, hiking) and either found I like or didn't like them.  Or they were things I've been doing for as long as I can remember (dancing, reading books, writing.)  I can't help but wonder if it's true that you can choose what you like to do or not, or if preferences can be developed over time with intention.  What do you think?


Allison the Meep said...

Interesting! I hadn't given this much thought before until you mentioned it, but this makes a lot of sense.

I often think the same thing - that I like the idea of something, but the act itself doesn't prove to be as fulfilling as I had hoped. And then I wonder if I'm just not giving it enough time, because I have this habit of being a brat and giving up at something when, surprise, I'm not instantly good at it. Because my mind is still very much 5 years old in that department, I guess.

A Glenn said...

I like that you wrote about this, because I've definitely had this debate in my head before! It is a great question to ask, but of course I have no real answer for you because I have no idea!

Based on my experience, I think your preferences change over time based on exposure, friends, etc. For example, I really thought I hated running until a few years ago. Even when training for that 10k, I still thought I hated it until I realized I was starting to look forward to my runs and was obsessing over when I would have time to run. So, that, I think, would give case to likes changing with deliberate action taken.

Anyways, nice post :)

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

I have thought about this statement, and your question, many times in the last week or two. I think it puts a really, really interesting perspective on things. I'm not sure what the answer to that does for me, but somehow, I think the thinking about it, anyway, somehow helps.