Hard, Sweaty, Fun: Organize Your Day for YOUR Happiness (not just your family's)

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by Robin

Hard.  Sweaty.  Fun.  Can you believe that I use these three words to organize my day for my happiness? 

I totally do and it totally works for me.  By keeping these three simple words in mind I create a day for myself that is satisfying for me personally.

I use lots of ways to keep my family, my home and my work organized.  We all have ways that work for us to keep our many balls in the air.  I use Google Calendar, my Donation Station and my Menu Planning Board routinely.

But even if I send the library books back to school on time, clear out some clutter and get dinner made without a hassle, that doesn't mean I feel personally content at the end of the day.  The kids and the laundry and the meals matter.  But, heck, so do I!

I came to my organizing method through some personal reflection and inspiration from reading (most of) the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  I had a conversation with myself.  I asked myself, "Self, there are days you feel really good about and days you feel wretched about.  What do those really good days have in common?"

I distilled the qualities of my best days down to these three words.  

Then I intentionally steer my day towards fulfilling my personally fulfilling stuff, along with the stuff that keeps my family on track.  Maybe something similar could work for you?

1) Hard

On my happiest days, I have done something Hard.

For me, Hard things are that stuff that nags at me.  Or Hard things could be something I am not quite sure I can do, but I want to try.  Sometimes it's stepping outside my comfort zone.  Usually, it's just doing some of those "should" do things that are bugging me.

Here are some recent examples:
  • I finally made that appointment for physiotherapy that I have been putting off for ages!  (I am the worst at making phone calls - it's so strange I know - but I hate the phone.)
  • I parallel parked the minivan!
  • I was feeling introverted, but I pushed myself to chat with a whole mess of people that I don't know well!
  • I finally filled the holes in my hallway art project!  (Ed helped with this, but it still counts.) 
  • I buckled down and finished a massive project at work.  In one day the project that was hanging over me was out of the way.

Nothing monumental.  Many of these things may seem silly or not very hard to you, but for me, they gave a satisfied feeling of pushing myself a little bit further.  At the end of the day, I feel better when the little nagging voices have just shut-right-up.

I do at least one Hard thing each day.  I can do more, but I don't have to.

Feeling like I have to accomplish absolutely everything on my Hard list all at once feels overwhelming and discouraging.  But, I've given myself permission to do just one a day.  I need to save more Hard things for tomorrow and the next day!  That is a liberating permission to give myself.

I will accomplish 365 Hard things this year, I don't need to do them all right now.

2) Sweaty

The days I feel slipped away and wasted for me are often the days I don't get exercise.

I feel better physically and mentally when I've worked up a sweat.  But, I can also put this off like "putting-off-exercise" is my hobby.  But, if each day I make sure to get sweaty, I don't have that Naggy McNaggerton voice telling me I should have done some kind of exercise for all the important things exercise does.  (Have you seen 23 1/2 hours?  Nine minutes well spent.)

Some Sweaty things lately:
  • I just did a 30 minute Jalk (that's my hip new term for jogging with breaks for walking - think that name will catch on?).  This counts as a Hard thing too, because really, isn't it the decision to do it really the Hard part?  Oh and I Jalked past a group of construction workers, that was Hard because I felt super self-conscious.  Jalking is never ever nice to look at, not when I do it anyway.
  • I grabbed my coupons and speed walked to the store to pick up some things we needed.
  • I did a Pilates class.
  • We went on an insanely long bike ride (20 km!) with the kids in tow.  (Literally, they were in tow, we are all ga-ga for our Trail Gators!)

3) Fun

This should need no conscious commitment.  But sadly it does!  It is usually the hardest one for me.  I sort of don't remember what I find fun.

I have been goal and task oriented for so long.  I know how to get things done.  I know how to reach a goal.  I don't know what I find really, really fun.  Am I alone?  Maybe.  But I am willing to wager that to-do lists have crowded out fun in many parent's lives.  I am now having Fun figuring out what's Fun for me.

Some of my Fun things:
  • I love curling up with a book.  It's not a Woo-Hoo, Fist-pump sort of fun, but it's what I've enjoyed doing my whole life.
  • I love getting a deal.  Poking through the thrift shop getting some awesome things at an awesome price gives me a thrill.
  • I love playing on this blog and writing stuff for you fine folks to read.  (By the way, thanks so much for reading!)
  • Spending time with friends.  When work and kids and home collide, friends are the first casualties.  Life can seem way too busy to fit in friendships.  But happiness is way too important to not find a way to wedge them in.
  • Doing something creative.  This Beach Glass Art for our bathroom redo was really fun.  I'll be doing more stuff like this! 
  • Going on a date with my main man.  Or doing a project with him.  We had buckets of fun working on making our brick driveway weed-free.  It was Hard and Sweaty, but Fun because we are totally dorky and can make any project fun with our dumb jokes.

Hard, Sweaty, Fun - that's how I am making sure my day is organised to include MY happiness!  My three words guide me.  I intentionally find ways to fit these three things into my day, or at least 2 out of the three.

They are simple to remember because they're pretty funny.   (The suggestiveness of the words is not wasted on me.  My Happiness Words has been the source of many, many dirty jokes around our place.)

What would your Happiness Words be?  When you feel good about your day, what things were a part of it?


  1. This is one of those posts that make me go: Yeah, duh, why couldn't I see that? But you're so right. Today I have a long list of hard stuff--because I've let them pile up. But I'm gonna sweat and have some fun, too. Maybe this is what balance really means?

    1. Yay! Glad the post spoke to you, Rita. Thanks for your comment - it means a lot. Have fun having fun!

  2. I really enjoyed this post. It's all about balance!

    Love Letters 7.10

  3. Robin, I love, love this idea. Easy way to remember an important concept. Thanks!

    1. Glad you like it, Bridget! Thanks for your comment!

  4. I may have to read 'most' of the Happiness Project. This method you devised for you happiness completely makes sense.

    I will have to give Hard, Sweaty, Fun a try.

    1. It works so well for me. Except for right now - I've been too sick to do the "Sweaty" for almost 3 weeks. I miss it like crazy. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Great thought provoking post. I need to figure out what my three words would be. I sure like those feel good days over those blah days.

    1. I'd love to hear what your words turn out to be, Fonda! I've been wondering is these three words resonate with other people, or are they just unique to me. Thanks for your comment!


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