The art of happiness is wasting time

The key to happiness is wasting time

May 30, 2018

This week, and for the first time EVER, I’m featuring writing from someone who isn’t me. Gasp, shock horror! As I’m out on the road with The Big Walk I figured it would be the ideal time to turn the blog over to my talented friend, Mr Josh Astrop. So here you are dear friends, musings from a male perspective:

Some people find the one thing they love when they are 5 years old and continue to do it for the rest of their life, sometimes even making a living from it. I am fortunate to speak to these types of people, people that are what I would consider successful in their field be it music, sport, art or business because I produce a podcast (The Josh Astrop Podcast) all about successful and interesting people.

However, I am not one of those people.

I used to visit St. Ives in Cornwall every year with my family, in fact, it is my favourite place in the world. I would see the surfers out in the ocean, and I wanted to do it. I wanted to be the surfer on his lunch break from the surf shop running down to the beach to catch some waves in the sunshine, before heading back to work. I imagined some young, blonde haired, bronzed, friends would swing by at 5 pm and go to the beach to drink and party all night. As a frustrated teenager, I thought that was the pinnacle of existence.

I saved my wages from four paper rounds each week (and I think some Saturday work helping a carpet fitter too) and spent £165 on a bodyboard. The following year I won the UK Bodyboarding Championship. Actually, I didn’t. I rarely used the board. I didn’t want to put in the work, my swimming was weak causing me to be unconfident in the water, which led me to shy away from hanging ten. The board now sits in my shed.

This was more recently evident when I went to see a friend play piano. He played beautifully and I was overwhelmed with emotion and inspiration, he was playing to a sold-out theatre and the audience was enthralled, I wanted to be him. During the performance, I wondered why I’d never pursued playing the piano. I had the idea a couple years ago, but after a handful of failed attempts at climbing the steep learning curve, I gave up.

This is a recurring pattern for me. I see someone doing something that looks fun/cool/impressive and I want to do it. I have tried many things, and none of them have stuck. I’m great at having an idea, doing the research, buying the gear, and then doing nothing. The only thing I have stuck to is turntablism, which I first tried when I was 15, but saying that, I haven’t touched my turntables in over six months.

I try to analyse what I do and why I do it, particularly when something isn’t going as planned and in this instance, I think I’ve discovered the crux of these fleeting desires. I want the success, the kudos, the power(?) that comes with having put time and effort into a single pursuit. The ability to master, or at least become increasingly competent at an art form.

All the things I have wanted to try have been influenced by someone successful. I’ve imagined how they feel and what their life is like. Arguably, the happiness in all these pursuits comes from practice, trial and error, failing, learning and trying again. I must apply this both in the process of learning a skill, but also in life as a whole. If something doesn’t stick, learn, then try something else.

When I think back to all the time and money I’ve spent on these things, it’s easy to feel as though it’s been wasted. What I think is truer is that these are explorations, short intellectual and physical trips into something new to learn. I learn something about myself in all these pursuits, even if the pursuit itself doesn’t stick.

I actually think this is a positive process. When I have that feeling, the “I want to be that person”, it’s actually a feeling of inspiration. In reality, I don’t want to be THEM, I want to be my version of them. They are demonstrating what is possible and it’s a privilege to see them excel, to be able to have access to such inspiration. I will try and use that as fuel for future endeavours.

What are you wasting time on at the moment?

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