The toughest part about relaxing is that it involves some work — at least for me

Relaxing comes easy to some folks, but for me it takes a little work.

Relaxing comes easy to some folks, but for me it takes a little work. I can’t say why exactly, I’m just wired that way. My husband, on the other hand, has no issues in this regard.

Paul doesn’t need decorative little signs around the house that say things like “relax” or “breathe,” he just does it.

For me, words like this are a great reminder to slow down and live a more balanced life.

“You should go fishing,” he said, referring to the annual 10-day trip he just came back from. “There’s nothing to do but kick back and take it easy.”

The thought of sitting on a boat for hours on end waiting for a fish to tug at my line doesn’t interest me, but I can understand the appeal of basking in the warm sunshine for a while, perhaps reading a good book. It would take some effort to get me to stop long enough to do it, however, and I can’t imagine not mixing in some work if the relaxation stage felt too lengthy.

While Paul was drinking cold beer at the campsite with his buddies, I was busy at home with the kids, working and tackling an endless list of self-inflicted chores. Yet as hectic and overwhelming as my days often were, I still wouldn’t have wanted to trade places with him. Instead I dreamt about escaping for 10 days on my own to do something I’ve been wanting to do for years: write a book.

“You could write a book in 10 days?” one of my friends asked skeptically.

“Maybe not,” I replied. “But I could get a great head start. With nothing distracting me but maybe a pretty view to look at, I could finally decompress and write what’s been brewing inside me for decades.”

Whatever I produced would undoubtedly need a ton of work once my trip was over, but the time spent writing would be far more enjoyable than fishing, golfing, cooking, gardening, watching sports or doing any of the other activities my husband loves to do.

“People relax in a variety of ways,” my belated grandmother said when I was younger, as she knit a sweater and explained why my grandfather preferred work over play.

“Papa would find all my hobbies torturous.”

She was right about that. The mere thought of him knitting, crocheting, bowling, singing or playing bingo made me laugh.

It looked to me like Nanan had all the fun while Papa just pushed papers in his office.

I’d wonder why he’d choose to still do that after he retired, and how he could possibly whistle as he did. I get it now: his work brought him joy.

My grandparents had very different interests, but they both gave the same great advice: that we only live once, so we might as well do what we enjoy as often as we can.

Spending more time doing the things that we love and less time doing the things that we don’t will help make us feel happier and more fulfilled. Especially if we can remember to “relax” and “breathe” as we do it.

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