"The key to a happy life is to accomplish things that you really feel like are good for somebody beyond just you. Nothing else will do it. A lot of people think happiness is about lots of time to play. I was a manic kayaker for a long time. And there were some people who just managed to arrange their whole life around kayaking and of course, we were all insanely jealous. But then, with the benefit of hindsight, that choice doesn't work out so great and I think it is because it's all about you. OK, maybe you like kayaking, but what are you going to be proud of at the end of the day? You may pass the time more or less pleasantly, but you're not going to feel too good about it. The same thing is true with getting rich." -- Green developer and Mindspring Founder Charles Brewer, interviewed in the Premiere issue of Worthwhile magazine
You could substitute "mountain biker" or "snowboarder" for kayaker and this would apply to me more directly. You could substitute your favourite leisure activity to make it personal, and I'm sure we all know people who are HARDCORE into the things we enjoy, perhaps even inspiring the same kind of jealousy he talks about. I've always included these types of pursuits as part of self-actualization, but are they really? Maybe if you're training to achieve professional status? I've occasionally blamed parenthood for forcing me out of my hardcore leisure focus, but I wonder if I would have tired of it eventually if we hadn't had kids.
It seems now that mountain biking is less an identity thing for me now, and more about how it contributes to the rest of my life: health benefits, appreciation of the environment and my community, and the social aspects. I'm a happier person and I accomplish more in the rest of my life when I ride twice a week, but I don't think I'd be happier and more productive if I rode five times a week.
What about you?