Work Hard, Play Hard

I am addicted. Others might succumb to heroine or chocolate, but this is my weakness: it’s computer games. Now you might think I’m one of those nerds playing World of Warcraft 24/7, but to be fair, I’m a bit of a coward and quite jumpy, so thins is not for me. And although I might be addicted, I still get bored quite quickly (also I’m a bit of a pacifist, so no shooting, please!).

The story of my addiction goes back quite far. Still, it started unexpectedly: As a kid I loathed board games. I simply hated them. Also, I am very much not a competitive person (unlike my Dad and the majority of my friends). The game that triggered me was The Sims. The very first version. Oh, I loved it. Then came Sims 2 which was just not the same and by the time they published Sims 3, I wasn’t paying attention anymore. Like so often, sequels are a risk.

Then my story went on and while I was in middle school bad quality online-games took hold of me. Here, I was not in to win it, I was in to finish it. Just a few weeks ago some friends and I got caught up in a (seemingly) endless game of Penguin Diner. As we sobered up, serving meals to penguins became less and less enticing. But what can you do? You gotta finish that bloody game.

So why am I telling you all of this now? Because I have found a new game that caught my attention (and continues to do so). Strictly, it is not even a game, but everyone who has tried it will know that, really, it is: DUOLINGO. I love that site. And the added benefit: you learn things. No more feeling guilty after hours of playing. And still you get all the lovely play features: the wonderful sound effects, the level ups and the colourful graphics! Then, with the “streak” feature, you’re also compelled to do it EVERY DAY. Seriously, for a modern languages student like me this is the dream!

I’ll have to go no, gotta strengthen those skills!

B x

Happiness in Progress

As you might know from my blog post a few days ago, I have started my own happiness project. It’s only been a little while, but I guess this thing needs a bit more clarification.

Prime objective is, of course, to stop myself from wasting my days being miserable and not doing things and then feeling more miserable because I haven’t done anything. So, as a result, doing anything pretty much is progress. But I do admit that I am a wee bit ambitious, so there is a more grand goal here, too. It’s hard to put into words, but I am essentially looking to achieve a feeling of purpose, satisfaction and, of course, happiness (hence the title of the project).

But, of course, it’s not like you do on specific thing and then feel purposeful, happy and satisfied forever. It kind of fluctuates. One day you feel energetic and motivated, the next day you fail to overcome the major hurdle of getting out of bed. Also, these things are not entirely self-administered. Of course, there are internal factors that lead to happiness, but there are also external factors that you have no control over whatsoever, and there is, last but not least, that thing called luck. So for my project I focus on what I myself can do to feel better, and on nothing else.

Gretchen Rubin, whose book inspired me to start my own happiness project, recommends that you set concrete goals and keep track of them:

Make resolutions that are concrete and manageable. “Play with my dog each morning” is more effective than “Get more fun out of life.” Track your resolutions by finding a way to hold yourself accountable.

So I followed her example and filled in a chart (you can find the blank chart on page 13 of this document – page 1 to 12 might serve as examples to you) with seven individual and manageable resolutions (below).

  1. Develop a regular sleeping pattern – This is a big problem of mine. I am really not a morning person, so I prefer doing work at night. Plus, I am a child mentally when it comes to sleep: I don’t want to go to bed in the evening and also really don’t want to get up in the morning. Problem is that I live alone and have no one who nags me about it.
  2. Do daily Duolingo in Spanish and Danish – You probably know this online language learning platform (if not, please do check it out!). For me as a language student regular practice is essential. Especially in Spanish, this aspect is missing from my university course where we have a seminar titled “Grammar” and another one titled “Vocabulary”, that focus only on that one thing. So Duolingo comes as a refreshing new opportunity for me. I also love how it is like a game and you can save “lingots” and all that.
  3. Read a lot – Self-explanatory, I hope. Maybe this goal needs to be a bit more measurable (like “read 50 pages a day”) but I think that would be too forced.
  4. Master the art of make-up – Make-up has always been a mystery to me. I see how powerful it can be and it really fascinates me but I just can’t get the hang of it. Maybe if I practice a bit and watch some tutorials on YouTube, this won’t bother me as much.
  5. Be more active – We all know that there are all these studies on how regular exercise makes us happier and endorphin and all that, but I frankly hate working out (detailed description here). So for me “be more active” means walking to university, taking the bike to ride into town and maybe swimming from time to time. Nothing grand.
  6. Blog every day – And here I am…
  7. Do what has to be done – This one is the most important one, I think. Could also be paraphrased as “stop procrastinating”. This is everything from doing the homework for my Danish course to doing laundry and buying groceries and getting out of bed every day.

Every-day life seems to be constantly getting in the way of this,in the end, when happiness is the objective Christmas parties aren’t exactly counter-productive… So far my track sheet contains an encouraging number of ticks and also some crosses, but I guess that’s about right. After all, this is a work in progress.

B x