Adults who love life and have no kids: what is your lifestyle?
June 14, 2015 6:53 PM   Subscribe

I'm not too excited about the "get married and have kids" or the "devote yourself completely to your job" approaches, yet these seem (to me at least) to be the two most common lifestyles that happy people report. Currently I take the "play video games and watch TV" approach, which isn't really happy-inducing for me anymore. For the rest of you out there who would consider yourselves happy, what lifestyle sustains you? What do your days look like? What do you do to keep things interesting for yourself? Thanks for your thoughts.

More about me and why I'm asking this question: I'm a 30 year old man who's been in a long term relationship for 10 years, and it looks like it may have run its course. I've lived quite a co-dependent life with her. This puts me in a rather awkward situation, as I've been living the same way for most of my adult life, and I'm not sure what to do with myself otherwise. I find that one of the hardest things about moving on is imagining what I'd do with my life outside of work if she wasn't in the picture, and I'm looking for your inspiration.
posted by HumanBean to Health & Fitness (38 answers total) 126 users marked this as a favorite
 
Flow by Mihaly C. and Man's Search for Meaning are two very good books about this very thing.

FWIW, this is still an issue for many parents as well. See: Alain deBotton.
posted by jrobin276 at 7:00 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Volunteering and life-long learning (e.g. taking classes at the local college/university)
posted by saturdaymornings at 7:01 PM on June 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


We go on a lot of vacations, large and small (ranging from day trips somewhere nearby to multi-week trips somewhere far away). We both have a number of hobbies. I'm into electronics, photography, and still trying to learn golf (I'm getting better, slowly). My wife does some volunteer work. I read a lot, watch movies, go to the gym (not enough), sometimes I just go for a nice drive or walk because I feel like it. My current job is sometimes stressful, and requires more travel than I'd prefer, but it still leaves me a lot of free time and rarely requires long hours when I'm not traveling.

I absolutely love my life (not that I don't have bad days, just like anyone), don't feel bored, and don't feel a void because we don't have kids. We're very happy to have the freedom to do just about anything we want, any time we want. That's an incredibly rare luxury. Savor it!!!
posted by primethyme at 7:13 PM on June 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Travel. A lot. Not just epic international trips but day trips around your state, long weekends away to different towns where you try different things, eat lots of food, sample wines and cheese! It's the thing I most look forward to and ends up taking a lot of time, what with the planning and research and then the actual doing of said trip!

Volunteering, either once a week or once a fortnight. This helps build up a nice routine but you also get to know staff, client base and other volunteers well. In my case the client base is cats - so it's always fun to spend an afternoon patting cats (and lots of cleaning too).

I live in a city which is full of festivals and markets. There's always something interesting or different to check out, even in winter. It could be the food and wine festival, or the international film festival - I find that while I generally do these with other people, they're actually okay to do on your own - particularly the film based ones.

I've started to cook out of pleasure as opposed to obligation. It's another thing which requires some planning and research but I take joy out of the whole activity - writing out the list, shopping just for that meal, picking out a nice wine to suit - and then the cooking itself. And of course the eating.

Having a pet (or two!). Sleep-ins and brunches. A strange but fun obsession with buying home decor for the house in an attempt to DIY (and failing).

If you get along with your family, spending time with them - particularly your grandparents.

Aside from wanting to work a four day week, there's not much else I want to do that could make my childfree life more happy.
posted by liquorice at 7:15 PM on June 14, 2015 [17 favorites]


I ride motorcycles and travel and make art and have cultivated a large and varied circle of friends. I'm constantly exploring and trying new things and having adventures.
posted by mollymayhem at 7:16 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


As a woman that was single for the most part until after turning 40 the first 40 years of my life I bought traveled, bought a house that needed renovating, renovated with some help from family & friends, sold it, traveled some more, met lots of people. I worked many and various jobs, sometimes for good money sometimes for bad.

I'm now married, and now we do the similar sorts of things but together. My husband actually likes what he does for a living so he enjoys going to work, I find my mental stimulation in numerous hobbies that change according to whim or the season. We travel together.

The reason you find so many of the find happiness in your work kind of people is because you are looking in the wrong places. Maybe check out the Mr Money Mustache website, if not for the financial advice so much as seeing how other people redefine what a happy lifestyle without using what they do to make money as their defining characteristic.
posted by wwax at 8:20 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have a broad social circle, renovate my home, rehab the sailboats I bought off craigslist, have a challenging job, sail, and when my renovation on my home and my little boats don't bankrupt me, I snowboard. I also cook, drink, and spend time with family.

I think I'd totally do the same stuff if I had kids in tow. I recognize this is probably delusional and financially impracticable for years 1-7 of child-rearing. So I've skipped the "having kids" thing so far.

I think you buried the lead here on your relationship having probably run it's course. People are happy, often, when there's stability. If you are losing, or at risk of losing, ten years of consistency... That's probably more a root cause of unhappiness than the video games getting boring.

And if, at the end of a ten year relationship, your video games are still what you're looking to for happiness and not your relationships with others, you may want to do some soul searching about what's critical in life before you embark on another relationship.
posted by slateyness at 8:28 PM on June 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Many friends and many activities with friends-- often centered around volunteering or hobbies.

I hike every week and we do a lot of charity-relate hikes and trail clean-ups. I also run and participate in local running groups.

I also take advantage of not having children to see the world. I took jobs in the Netherlands and (now) Hong Kong. I take adventure travel vacations (2 weeks hiking in Mongolia coming up). I use the hiking to constantly travel around the areas where I live as well. I go on geeky history tours.

Also the life-long learning-- I tend to learn other languages as a hobby. I'm *terrible* at it, but over the years I've become fluent in Dutch, passable in French and Swedish and I'm now cracking away at the basics of Cantonese.

I wasn't childless by choice, and it took me a while to figure out how many doors were open to me as a non-parent that would not be open to me as a parent. The biggest key is I only need to financially plan for myself-- that creates a big difference and a lot bigger appetite for risk.
posted by frumiousb at 8:29 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I used to do things like language classes, volunteering and lots of travel. Finances, health problems and a longer commute now make those harder but now I have 2 cats. They are my joy. I'd grown up with pets and knew they awesome but there's something about being the single human with two bonded cats that is just so wonderful. They love each other, they love me, I love them and we all enjoy hanging out.
posted by kitten magic at 8:30 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Travel, good friendships, language classes, foodie stuff, books, cats, attending the opera/symphony, projects with my SO.
posted by matildaben at 8:45 PM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


We both went (/are going - one degree down, one to go) back to school in our early 30s after some soul-searching, because we could absorb that risk without kids in the picture as long as at least one of us was working at a time. The return on our time spent in grad school may not be worth it purely from a financial perspective (especially if you include years spent not making a real salary), but we're coming out on the other end with the ability to be employed doing more personally rewarding work, and with more options for work/life balance. And possibly better pay, although I think my husband and I may just be switching out on who's the primary breadwinner.

Also we bought a house in a meh school district close to some friends of ours. We're slowly rehabbing it and still have money to travel, if we're careful about it.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:17 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


much like the above - i travel, and i see my friends. i sleep in a lot on weekends, without giving myself a whole lot of grief. i get to do a lot of the things i want on very short notice, without a lot of preparation - the spontaneity is pretty awesome. it means i get to say yes to a lot of things that a lot of people with kids would have to say no to (due to logistics or cost of childcare or etc), and the experiences are usually pretty awesome. i go to shows and stay out late. i can get drunk (if i so choose), get a ride home (or just get a hotel room), and not have to worry about planning for anyone else except me and my bf. i see family on my terms - there's no "having" to see people because they want to see my kids, etc. i have a job that's pretty much at my job. it doesn't spill over a lot into my personal time, and if it does, it's very infrequent.

it's basically being able to afford to do things i like without guilt and being able to be spontaneous. i can also take up hobbies that i like, without feeling like i'm neglecting my family or spending money that should be earmarked for college/future familial issues, etc. find something you think you might like to do and try it out. if you don't like it, try something else. there's hundreds of things in the great big world, try all the cool stuff you can.
posted by koroshiya at 10:42 PM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


We have cats and motorcycles. We like camping. We are renovating our house, we are both tinkerers, and what's maybe most relevant here: we are active members of our local hackerspace, which serves as a source of social contacts and inspiration, and a place to Make Stuff. We spend two nights a week there, sometimes more.
We do not watch TV. There's always something more interesting to do. Making stuff is great and you always learn something while doing it.
Check out Instructables. Check out your local hackerspace.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:47 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I write, read, watch films, go walking in the countryside, and sometimes study part-time with the Open University. My partner does pretty much the same, except instead of writing he does wildlife photography. For us, happiness has always come down to having stimulating hobbies, it's only the details of what those hobbies actually are which has changed over the years (it used to be videogames and TV for me too, and prior to that it was drawing and painting).
posted by RedRob at 11:28 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Create! I've spent time writing and recording music, drawing, sewing and writing a screenplay just in the last year. There's nothing like the feeling of creating something and seeing your craft improve over time.
posted by platinum at 11:46 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Location location: Those who have children often seem to choose to live in places where they can afford larger properties and which have good schools nearby. Those without have more flexibility - we can go and live somewhere where we can walk to restaurants, art galleries, marinas, universities or whatever places we are passionate about. Rather than a house, we might choose an apartment that they can "lock and leave" while travelling. We might be able to live closer to work so that we can have a short commute.
posted by rongorongo at 12:19 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thanks everyone! I appreciate all of your responses. I'm glad I asked the question.

I'm enjoying reading through and checking up on the various references. I spent some time looking at Flow, Mr. Money Mustache (this one was surprisingly motivational even though it's about finances), Instructables, etc. I've looked at each one. All good resources and completely new to me.

I see a lot about travel, continuing education, volunteer work, pets, hobbies, friends and family which makes a lot of sense. The patterns are just as valuable to me -- I think they say something about our basic needs as people. Reminds me of what's important.

To respond to a few things:

FWIW, this is still an issue for many parents as well. See: Alain deBotton.
Yeah, no doubt. Most of the parents I know are occupied enough with kids + job + spouse, they would consider this their life. I'm sure it's not the case with everyone.

If you get along with your family, spending time with them - particularly your grandparents.
Sadly not very close with my family. This is part of the issue for me, but I understand where you're coming from. My grandparents have passed away, but when I look back at the time I spent with them as a kid, it was really important.

I think you buried the lead here on your relationship having probably run it's course. People are happy, often, when there's stability. If you are losing, or at risk of losing, ten years of consistency... That's probably more a root cause of unhappiness than the video games getting boring.
Yeah I think so too. I did realize this when I wrote out the question. I thought about making a typical "my life is falling apart what do I do" post, but wanted to focus the question on something more specific and more positive instead. I have a lot of things to deal with at the moment, so I didn't want to dump out too much of it at one time.

it's basically being able to afford to do things i like without guilt and being able to be spontaneous. i can also take up hobbies that i like, without feeling like i'm neglecting my family or spending money that should be earmarked for college/future familial issues, etc.
I forgot about the spontaneity part. Makes being single sound pretty good. :)

Create! I've spent time writing and recording music, drawing, sewing and writing a screenplay just in the last year.
That's great! I can't agree more. I'm only now rediscovering the importance of self-expression after gradually burying my own creative instinct within a decade of full-time cubicle bureaucracy. Seriously, it feels like a part of me is missing.
posted by HumanBean at 12:29 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


As a specific: have a look at the Meetup groups in your area. You will can find ones which deal with practically any sort of activity mentioned above. If you are trying to re-assemble a circle of friends after a co-dependent relationship then they can be a good place to look. If the group that you wished were there does not exist yet - then start it.
posted by rongorongo at 1:05 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, what things do you like? I like dancing and tennis and learning languages and swimming and cycling and trail running and seeing art, ballet, opera and theatre. My husband likes record shopping, DJing, books, trail running, and art, film, ballet, opera and theatre.

It's going to depend a bit on where you live - if you're in rural New Zealand your options will be more limited than if you're in London. But start by checking out your local university or community college and see if any of the adult learning or short courses excite you. Look at your local theatre or gallery programme. Check out meetup groups and sports clubs. There will be something that interests you. And then commit to doing something at least once a week or it will drift.
posted by tinkletown at 2:43 AM on June 15, 2015


I can't recommend volunteering enough. At times in my life where I've been foundering a bit, it's provided me with perspective and grounded me. It's also made me friends I would never have met otherwise, and allowed me to hone skills I've used in the rest of my life. It's made me a better version of myself, and helps me to find meaning in how I affect the world. As long as I leave it a little bit better than I find it, that'll be good.
posted by greenish at 2:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm post-kids and usually live alone. Every now and then I dip my toe into dating, which can be exciting and overly dramatic. I do a lot of solitary stuff. At home, I garden, paint, write and read. Out and about, I go to dinner, music festivals and general travel. I take gazillions of photos. Occasionally I try volunteering and community groups, and while I'm comfortable socially, they're never interesting enough to draw me back. I have cats, local friends, Facebook people, and the occasional work do.
posted by b33j at 3:07 AM on June 15, 2015


Develop friendships. Do my research. Volunteer at church. Travel, but not a ton. And, play TF2 at night after I eat.
posted by persona au gratin at 3:16 AM on June 15, 2015


Currently I take the "play video games and watch TV" approach [...] the hardest things about moving on is imagining what I'd do with my life outside of work if she wasn't in the picture

First get used to being by yourself. Self-sufficient. Unleashed.

Plan a nice long bicycle route on a paper map, then get on your bicycle (with your map stowed away in your pack just in case) and ride. Unless you are going somewhere that absolutely depends on you talking to people and knowing the time, leave your phone and watch behind. Don't take your camera -- just be there in the moment. No gadgets like distance counters on the bicycle. Make it just you and the bicycle and the road and the air.

Take the train on a similar trip, maybe with your bicycle for riding on the other end of the trip. Or take the train with your bicycle one way, then ride your bicycle all the way back, with your motivation to ride being that you brought no money or credit cards or phone, just some packed food and water, a spare inner tube and pump and tools, so you have to keep going. You don't know what time it is and you don't care. No one knows exactly where you are. They might know your planned route if they really want to come looking for you, but maybe you'll have changed your mind by then and taken a different route home.

At home, plant a garden or window box, depending on where you live. Plant seeds in the soil and water them. Ideally, grow flowers attractive to bees. Very easy. When they grow, plant a chair in front of the flowers, plant yourself in the chair, and listen to the bees. Turn off the phone. Turn off the television. Turn off the stereo. Just sunlight. Bees. Birds. Dogs. People. Cars. Noises, but not noises directed at you, nothing you have to respond to, just ambient noise and light.

Read fiction or poetry printed on paper. No facts. No use but pleasure. No pixels. No glow. No noise. No pace but the pace of you turning the page when you feel like it.

Pen and paper. Write things.

When you've reset yourself a little, try joining a group or two of real people who really meet, maybe hikers or bicyclists or boaters, or maybe a team sport. Outside again, but with other people.
posted by pracowity at 4:06 AM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


One thing to think about, is the cultivation of friendships. I'm a big believer that friends are the family you make. We have an amazing circle of other childless couples/singles, and we've created several traditions unto ourselves. We'll spend Christmas day with our blood families, but our Christmas Eve and New Years Eve together are two nights I look forward to every year. (Bonus, we've generally got disposable spontaneous income. High end whisky tastings at New Years? Why not?) Also travelling together. I may joke about having someone to call in the middle of the night to "hide the bodies" but in all seriousness, as we get older (we're spreading from the mid 30s to late 40s right now) it's great to have someone to call when there's an emergency.
posted by librarianamy at 4:42 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm a parent, but for several years I thought I couldn't be, and at that time I deliberately cultivated the kind of life that I thought would keep me happy sustainably down the decades. For me this boils down to a) play music with other people as much as possible and b) keep learning.

Now the kid has come along, I still keep a) and b) as goals. Still happy.
posted by altolinguistic at 5:19 AM on June 15, 2015


I would echo a lot of what's been said above and boil it down to a few broad areas for myself that encompass most of these suggestions:
- learning in some way (whether that's formal education, reading books about interesting topics, going more in-depth on some hobby or skill you already have)
- getting out of my head and into the rest of the world in some way (volunteering, travel, actively seeking out movies/music/books from areas of the world I don't know as much about, taking a class in something brand-new)
- cultivating connections (time with friends or significant others, chatting with my beloved online friends, trying out new activities to meet new friends, MeFi meetups, keeping in touch with distant family, having pets and making up silly songs for them, sending distant friends a silly Snapchat of something from my day)
- self-care (meditation, exercise, doing something fun, getting the alone time that's important for me, reading a good book in a bubble bath, etc.)
- getting outside, when weather permits. (gardening, mostly, but also going for walks instead of just exercising on the treadmill, taking a good book out on the front porch to read in the sunshine, taking a few moments to savor the satisfying crunch of a good snowfall under my boots, etc.)

Some of these things come easier for me than others and I certainly don't do them all every day, but I think on a good week I cover them all pretty thoroughly.
posted by Stacey at 5:49 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nothing new in my comment, but I have a rambunctious toddler, and this is what I would do if I was still childless: garden (I want ALL THE PLANTS, and that takes serious time), go pick fruit and berries in season and spend weekends processing the food so I can enjoy it year-round, bike to work daily and swim on the masters team at the Y, cook things that take a lot of time and effort, fix up my house, spend time and energy decorating my house, read tons of books, host parties, travel travel travel travel, spend a lot of time Nordic skiing on weekends in winter, refinish some furniture, go to concerts and local festivals, plan exotic dining adventures in town, volunteer, play in another musical group, learn to play the accordion that I bought 2 years ago, bring meals and supplies to friends/family who are sick or have babies, etc. My husband would probably run a lot more, actually ride his bike, build more speakers and design the media system of his dreams, read more nonfiction, and cook for fun.

I love my kid, but I am obviously constantly dreaming about what else I could be doing with more time/energy/money/freedom to work with sharp or messy tools that are oh so appealing to little hands.
posted by Maarika at 8:31 AM on June 15, 2015


My husband travels for work and I work a weird schedule at a job I love. Outside of work hours, he: makes (award winning) beer, cooks, does the yard work, and does lots of home projects. I am much lazier and prefer to hang out with my friends, watch Netflix with our dogs, shop online, and decorate the house. Our house and dogs basically take up all the time and money that parents spend on kids. We've just joined the pool in our neighborhood, and have spent a lot of time there, tossing a Frisbee while sipping on giant drinks. We're not really into exercise, and I hate travel so we don't do that much since he is always on a plane at work. I started a "new" job a year ago that has been the source of many new friends, so we often have 2 or 3 couples over and make a big-ass dinner and laugh our asses off. Pretty much every day one or both of us says, "damn I'm glad we don't have kids".
posted by masquesoporfavor at 8:43 AM on June 15, 2015


For the sake of variety, I'll toss in my two cents:

I was a late 20s never-wed, never-kid bon vivant gay dude when I met my husband a decade ago. I sustained myself by working hard, going to parties and museums at the drop of a hat and enjoying the ability to lead an almost completely unplanned, spontaneous life. It was great!

I met my dude, and he had three kids from a previous marriage. It was a dilemma, to put it very lightly, whether I was willing to give up my spontaneous self-directed freedom for an experience that included kids and the necessary changes in scheduling priorities they bring. Ultimately, I opted to give it a shot, and to my surprise it was kinda cool. I mean I honestly had no idea. It's been great!

TL;DR: best laid plains can be waylaid by surprising people you meet in your life, and I would encourage you to remain open to all possibilities.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:46 AM on June 15, 2015


Do you have anything you're passionate about outside of work? For my husband and I it's long motorcycle trips (which is travel, but a very specific kind of travel). We also have our own passions (although we're both very interested in what we do for work), fitness and circus/theatre for me, and games/tech for my husband.

If your current relationship has "run it's course" but you're having trouble imaging what your life would be outside of it, I would recommend resisting getting into a new relationship too quickly. Explore activities and friendships. Try stuff out and be open. You don't need to have a plan, just try things.
posted by Kurichina at 9:05 AM on June 15, 2015


I'm lucky enough (well, it took some strategizing and a long time but there's still some luck involved) to live in San Francisco. Therefore, my fantastic life includes:

Various lecture series

Some really fun small theatre companies

Some really fun more established theatre companies

Outstanding volunteer opportunities

Amazing restaurants, beautiful views, neighborhood bars, THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS, bookstores like whoa, THE GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, and three adorable cats. And more books than I can read in a lifetime. And a lot of friends who are also single and ready for a good time.
posted by janey47 at 10:01 AM on June 15, 2015


Several of life's developments often lead to this, or its cousin: the kids are grown and the pet has died = FREEDOM. I suppose the termination of a long-term relationship might pose a similar contour, which is to say that it's time to reinvent oneself.

Start with the peripherals. Be yourself for a while, so you can get a better picture of your shape. Let the deep relationships come as they may, but don't get in a hurry. This will let you have the time and energy to decide if you want to travel or take up an engrossing hobby. Intelligent traveling is a joy for those who are young enough to do it. I used to like to go somewhere and stay there for a while. (I have a cautionary tale about my own circumstances in this area, but you don't need to be homeless to do this.) A town in southeastern Hokkaido used to ring my bell, and I once thought I'd love to rent a small place there and just be there for a while. (Tomakomae, a seaport, with more charm than you can even imagine.) Now, that's just an idea, for which you could substitute any place on the planet. You'd learn to count and buy food in a different language.

If that's too involved, then consider taking up an instrument; learn to read tabs or music as a part of the project, and get into local jams that are friendly to the novice.

If you run in the right circles, learn to ride a horse; go to farrier's school, then attend a seminar on back-country packing, so that you can take your newish circle of friends up to the back country for a few weeks during the season, or explore the southwest in ways not available to the average hiker.

Any combination of these things will require a certain diligence and attention to detail when you are putting it together. That's the point. This is the difference between an entertaining afternoon spent whacking the Gameboy and an afternoon sitting on a scenic hillside with your easel, trying to capture the colors of a Japanese landscape.

I understand that none of these things I offer take your working life into consideration, but perhaps you could be inspired to use them as notions that inspire you to take a peek inside and see what you can see about yourself that isn't related to filtering it through a Significant Other.

You may be surprised. Let me know if you decide to learn to sail and then put a down-payment on a 50 self-tacking ketch. I heard about one person who made a subsistence living out of writing revues for one of the sailing magazines; got him some port fees, and let him run about the southern Pacific Ocean for five years. He said he was just looking for something to do when he bought the first little Hobie Cat, but one thing led to another.....
posted by mule98J at 10:09 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Thoughts about how this actually plays out on a daily/weekly basis for me, in case that helps. (Turning 40 this year, been single/divorced for a decade now). I love my job (librarian) but I also don't want the work I get paid for to be my whole life. I just finished 3.5 years of living in rural Maine, and am now back living in metro Boston, where I grew up, so there's some adjustments for me, but my plans might help you.

On a weekly basis: I am currently scheduling myself no more than 1 weeknight thing and 1 weekend day thing a week, with at least one weekend with nothing scheduled a month. (Because I'm still unpacking, catching up from moving, etc.)

I have one epic creative collaborative project (done online, though I've met most of the people involved in person at this point) and one epic knitting project. Work nights, I mostly come home, make dinner, adore the cat, and then work on at least one of the two for an hour or two while talking to friends online. (Social interaction, but while multitasking with other things/getting household stuff done.) Both epic projects will be wrapping up in late August.

Weekend things for me have (in the past six weeks) included 2 museum trips (I'm aiming at one a month, and inviting friends to come along if they're interested), casual social time with local friends, a couple of meals out.

After the current epic projects are over, I have two writing projects I want to work on, both of which are going to take a lot of research, and I also want to do a trip in the late fall that I want to do a fair bit of preparation for in terms of advance reading. I may well also pick up some kind of volunteer or community project again - past ones have included event planning for a yearly convention thing and some related stuff like that.

Something like this keeps me comfortably busy and doing things I consider meaningful, while being balanced such that I feel like I have mental downtime (the knitting is done while watching whatever long series on Netflix I'm currently watching, for example, but you could substitute in any other craft/etc. project.)
posted by modernhypatia at 11:10 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Lots of great answers here, and I would also add that therapy was a huge help in learning who I was, how I related to my loved ones, how I Wanted to relate to my loved ones, and what the life I wanted looked like.

The answers ended up being a lot of the answers in this thread: prioritizing good friends and family, fascinating museums/podcasts/books, live music, and saying "Yes" to trying new things.
posted by ldthomps at 11:59 AM on June 15, 2015


Oh nthing the friendships! And you can be less constrained by location - travel is easier. I'd encourage seeking out intergenerational friendships also, especially if you don't have close family relationships. I have a few friends with children, and while I have no desire for kids of my own, I've been delighted to see them grow up and to become a part of their lives. I also have some friendships with people 20-40 years old than me that have provided much needed advice and perspective on top of the normal love and fun of a friendship.
posted by congen at 12:43 PM on June 15, 2015


I do the following:
(a) volunteer job, which allows me to take free classes at the establishment in question. I also teach a class there yearly.
(b) take classes up the wazoo at various places--I do a lot of craft classes, have taken some classes at other places from time to time. Right now I'm obsessed with improv and have been attending comedy school and hope to get into a team someday. I recommend picking up course catalogs at whatever centers are in your area. Also check the ol' Groupon/Living Social-type sites because they offer discounts and various random opportunities.
(c) go to the gym and/or take classes there.
(d) I look around for whatever crazy festivals/craft fairs/faires in general/whatever are going on in my area and attend them. Event Crazy is a great place to find them in your area-you can also check out your local weekly newspaper/magazine as well.
(e) I also go to a lot of theater shows.
(f) I'm also in a writing group.

I'm amazed other people in this thread are as busy as I am because I thought I was pretty strange being booked every night. I'm ah. pretty hyperactive and while I'm home right now, most of the time I'm not. I perhaps overschedule because I haven't had a free Saturday since...March, I think? Not sure when the next empty Saturday is right now either :P

modernhypatia, I'm really curious about your epic knitting project now....
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:15 PM on June 15, 2015


I am pretty into my job, and I have a part-time job on weekends, just for fun. That, a good relationship, and a couple of light hobbies do it for me.

If I had it to do over, I would have cultivated more friendships with other childless people. Once my friends started having kids, it became harder to spend time together, and I couldn't relate to the most important thing in their lives. I still love my friends, and they have great kids, but I missed them a lot while their kids were growing up.
posted by Frenchy67 at 8:48 PM on June 16, 2015


People have pretty much covered the bases. Re volunteering, have you ever considered being a Big Brother? I've been a Big Sister twice and, while it can be intimidating and you may often feel like you don't have any business mentoring a young person, you'll be valued. And you'll find value in the experience in ways you never imagined. If you like being useful with your hands, you can volunteer on a Habitat project or a community toolshed. Lots of studies out there to show how people who give back, who nurture or care in some way beyond their own orbit, are statistically happier and live longer than those who don't.

Also, we've moved a few times to completely new-to-us places. Sometimes it feels like if you don't have kids or a church community, options are few. Especially in the beginning, we started going to everything. Every pancake breakfast, free lunchtime lecture, tiny Main Street parade. Step outside your zone and force yourself to experience newness just for the sake of it. Go to Elk's Club bingo, whatever. I went once alone and had the most hilarious time around a table of old lady bingo experts. We still do stuff like that, reviewing the weekly calendar, marking it up for the most interesting things. Check out your local meetup groups. Get out of your zone is all I'm saying.

A final note: In our most recent town we live where we can walk or bike or take public transportation everywhere. We use our vehicle a couple of times a week. The extent to which this shift has slowed down life and engaged us more in our neighborhood and community has been amazing. Just something to consider if you find yourself moving anytime soon!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 5:37 PM on June 25, 2015


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