For months, my dad was reading a book he didn't enjoy. He would complain about it, but continued to trudge through it. Typically able to read a book in a week or less, it took him months to finish this one. All the while, I told him, "Life's too short. Just stop reading it and start reading something else!" He refused, determined, as always, not to put a half-read book back on the shelf. I would shake my head, never quite understanding why anyone would waste free time on something that wasn't enjoyable.
My dad and his determination got me thinking though. How often to we keep at something even when it's not bringing us happiness? How often do we persevere for reasons other than true joy? Of course, there are many things in life we don't enjoy that we must do, but what about the things that aren't required? Do we do them because we love them? Or do we do them because we feel we should?
Giving up isn't something I love to do, but it's something that's sometimes necessary for living a positively present life -- especially when it comes to personal pastimes and just-for-fun activities. We've all heard the old "life is short" saying, but do we really take it to heart when it comes to pursuing a task no longer bringing us joy? Some of us know when to stop, when to throw in the towel -- but many of us will doggedly pursue something, even when the fun has been sucked out of it and it seems more like a chore than a pastime. Determination is a worthwhile trait, but, when it comes to your free time, sometimes it's just better to put the bad book down. Here's why you should stop doing what you don't love:
5 Reasons to Stop Doing What You Don't Love
1. It's a waste of time. You know that life is short, but do you really act like it's short? Between work or school, relationships, and commitments, we're only given so much free time to spend doing what we really love to be doing. Are you doing what you love during your precious hours of free time? Or are you doing what you think you should? Are you making the most of every minute? Because if you're not, you're wasting your time -- and, as I'm sure you know, time is one of life's most valuable commodities.
2. It's getting in the way of fun. If you're not doing what you love to do, you're not having fun. Spending time on activities that don't bring you joy hinder you from making the most of your free time. They take all the fun out of being able to do what you want. If a pastime is starting to feel more like a chore, consider it a fun-blocker. If you keep doing it, you're blocking the way to potentially fun activities -- and who wants to do that? Don't let fun-blockers get in the way of enjoying your free time!
3. It's boring. Doing something you don't enjoy doing gets old really, really quickly -- especially if it's something you're not being rewarded for or paid for. You've probably heard the saying "only boring people are bored," and there's some truth in that. If whatever you're spending your free time has become mundane, it's time to spice it up. Free time is an amazing gift and the last thing it should wasted on is an activity that bores you.
4. It's a source of frustration. Like my dad reading his bad book, the more time you spend on an activity that doesn't bring you happiness, the more frustrated you'll become with it -- and with yourself. While a little frustration can make things interesting, for the most part, your free time should be spent doing things that inspire and excite you. If you're facing more frustrations than fun, it's time to rethink the way you're spending your time.
5. It's not the only option. If you're spending your time doing what you don't want to be doing, you're missing out on doing all the things you do want to be doing. For example, think of all the amazing and exciting books in the world! My dad could have easily put down the one he was reading and picked up another option. No matter what you enjoy doing in your free time, there's always a fun alternative for a pastime that grows dull. Not giving up what you don't love gives you a lot less time to test new options.
Whether it's a bad book, a craft project, an experience you've been trying to cross off your bucket list -- if it's not making you happy and bringing you joy, don't do it. We sometimes set goals for ourselves and feel that we'll be let down if we don't achieve them. It's okay to accept that something isn't what you thought it would be. It's okay to change your mind and realize you no longer want to do what you started doing. Now, I'm not advising you to give up on your goals or sell yourself short when it comes to your big, crazy dreams -- but consider how you're spending your free time and ask yourself if it's really what you want to be doing. You might be surprised by the answer and realize that, yes, it's time to put the bad book down.