My friend Kelly once found herself so overloaded with activities and all the usual stuff – work, children, volunteering, kitchen gadget parties – that she narrowly escaped needing a two-week beach getaway. She knew it was time for change after a coworker asked if she might cover a shift, because her father was dying and she needed time off. Kelly, usually kind and generous, leaned in close to the distraught woman and said “NO! If I do one more thing I’m going to have a breakdown.”
After recovery from the breakdown she had due to saying that, Kelly learned to say no graciously, and now when necessary for her to do so, her husband reminds her “It’s not like their loved one is dying or something.”
While many of us are socially overloaded and trying to find ways to say no before snapping, I, for one, am searching for more groups to join. I’ll tell you why. Good Morning America recently reported that adding just one group activity that requires leaving your house, even if only once per month, increases your happiness level as much as doubling your annual salary.
I am not greedy. I figure three new group activities per month will be sufficient, giving me plenty of happiness to bank, with some left over for helping out the kid and some for donating to folks less fortunate – the groupless.
All that potential joy is great but happiness bucks won’t put food on the table and gas in the tank, so I plan to join groups right here in my neighborhood so I can snack at home, then walk.
So what groups to join? I briefly considered the runners group, but my homeowners’ association does not allow lawn mowers, barbeque grills, trashcans or middle aged women in Spandex to be within view. From anywhere. That and the fact that I’m a little bit nervous about the bobcat I regularly see near the exercise trail. And I don’t run.
I could join a homeowners’ association committee –maybe the one that walks around noting the addresses of all of our rebel neighbors who dare to leave their grills outdoors. Or I could start up a new committee – the Car Committee – and propose changing the bylaws to require keeping all vehicles out of view. It’s fun to imagine 300 homeowners trying to balance their trashcans on top of their grills, on top of their lawnmowers so they can also hide their cars in the garage.
Seriously, I don’t think a homeowners’ group would add much happiness to my bank, but the report didn’t say anything about the necessity of the group being fun.
Maybe I’ll join one of those dinner clubs where the gang prepares enough food to feed France and then you divvy everything up and take container after container of deliciousness home and eat leftovers until time for the next fry-fest. Yes, this sounds good. It would sound better if I liked cooking.
Pondering all the options is so exhausting. I feel like someone has made unauthorized withdrawals from my happiness bank. So I’m going to join one group only and try to get by on less.
Or who knows? Maybe the Wine Tasters can meet weekly. We’ll be the happiest group in the hood.