One of my favorite quick pep talks to myself is if you can’t get out of it, get into it.* As you can see from this vintage photo (below) of my family and teenage me on a family vacation, I need this lesson sometimes.
Let’s face it: there are times when we just have to do things, even if we don’t want to be there/join in/do that. Sometimes chores, homework, oboe practice, “forced family fun,” babysitting—really, mandatory activities of any kind—feel like the last thing in the world we’d choose to do. It’s tempting to stage a mini protest as we half-heartedly go through the motions, every reluctant drag of the foot telegraphing the overall message: I’m going to do this but you can’t make me like it (and I won’t let you forget it).
It’s not a new phenomenon. Exhibit A: every time I read about that dismal duo in the early part of the Book of Mormon, I want to say, “Hey, Laman and Lemuel—if you can’t get out of it, get into it!” Notice that they’re technically doing the right things: they have come with their family into the wilderness as their father asked. They’re making the trip, going through the motions. Their feet are in the right spot but their foot dragging and complaining robs them of the full experience of the journey.
Here’s what I’ve discovered: When we choose both to do the thing and to get into it with enthusiasm, we multiply what we get out it:
- the activity itself miraculously becomes more enjoyable for you
- your enjoyment makes it more fun for others
- time goes by faster!
- as you practice the “if you can’t get out of it, get into it” philosophy you build your capacity for grit and resilience and optimism—things that contribute to long term success and happiness
- life just becomes more fun
There’s another version of this pep talk I like. Not long ago I heard a friend on the phone with her daughter, who was calling to check in during a less-than-stellar prom date, which hadn’t been planned very well by the boy who asked her. It just wasn’t the prom date she had imagined; there was a lot of “what do you want to do? I don’t know, what do you want to do?” going on. After listening to her daughter a bit, the mom said, “Oh, that’s too bad. But, you know–it’s more fun to have fun. So as long as you’re on the date already, you might as well enjoy it!”
Try it. Next time you’re stuck in an activity you have to do anyway, experiment and give yourself one of these pep talks:
If you can’t get out of it, get into it.
It’s more fun to have fun.
. . .
*FYI, I first came across this phrase in Gretchen Rubin’s 2009 book The Happiness Project