Simple Pastimes That Are Surprisingly Joyful

Are you looking for a bit of joy and happiness? Check out our list of simple pastimes that most of us completely forgot to enjoy in and see what happens.

Sometimes, in this ever busy world, we need to step back and enjoy an easier lifestyle. These activities might be precisely what you need.

Try your hand at cards!

Group of friends relaxing and playing cards together

When was the last time you sat around a table with a group of friends and played cards? Have you ever played cards? Maybe its time to learn!

The simplicity of gathering a group of people together, sharing wine and beer, cracking peanut shells and ordering a pizza is not something that happens very much any more.

With the rise of technology, the vast number of movies out and various other activities occupying our time, it can be difficult to get together and remember why we are friends with our friends in the first place. Try organizing a game of Whist, Hearts or President. Check out your local game store to find more card playing inspiration.

You might see playing cards as a step back in time, and it may feel strange at first, not giving your attention to a television or game console. Given the chance, however, a card game can be a place for healthy and lighthearted competition, idle chatter, storytelling and a simple encounter with those you enjoy spending time with.

Read beneath a willow tree

There is something wistful about relaxing beneath a weepy willow tree and letting its long tendrils fall down around you, building a little sanctuary—a bubble where only you exist. On a sunny day, when the wind is low, grab your favorite book, or maybe a musical instrument, and find a tree to sit beneath.

Listen to the air thread through the leaves, watch the sun cast shadows around your feet and feel the breath of the earth supporting you while you rest. And if the need arises, take a nap or do a bit of yoga. When you’re finished, you’ll feel replenished and and completely peaceful. Trees are healers; sit under one sometime, and feel the joy.

Chop wood

You may not believe that chopping wood is a pastime. You may think it’s a chore—a dirty chore that requires the large toned muscles of a manly man to do the work while we sit back and admire the ripples. As wonderful as such a scene would be, there is more to benefit from wood chopping than simply watching a hottie do all the work.

With your hands on an axe, the proper standing position, and all hazards, pets and small children out of the way, it is extremely cathartic to raise that axe in the air, take aim and swing it down into the top of a log. Seriously, who needs a therapist when you can take your aggression and frustration out on the log that you’ll later use to build a fire, which will bring even more zen into your life.

Use your strength, your drive, your mind and body to make the perfect cut. Eventually, you’ll get quite good at it, and you’ll be looking for excuses to have a campfire so you can chop more wood to get it going. It’s an odd pastime, that’s true, but don’t write it off just yet.

Ride a bike

Portrait of happy young bicyclist riding in park

Remember the joy you used to get as a kid when you hopped on your bike and rode over to the neighbor’s house or down and around the block just for something to do? As we get older, we forget about the enjoyment we can have from such a simple thing.

I’m not talking about riding your bike to and from work—as great as commuting via bicycle is, it’s not the same as taking the time to meander around on a device that works through your own pedaling activity. Stuff a bottle of water and a snack into your backpack, strap your helmet on and ride for a few hours—you never know where your own legs will take you.

Do some gardening

Studies have shown the existence of antidepressant microbes that live in the very soil beneath our feet and in our gardens. Dirt can make you happy. It doesn’t matter if you have a large space for a garden or a four-by-four planter box sitting on the emergency exit platform outside your apartment window, working your hands into the soil and planting and tending to what grows there has an incredible effect on your brain.

An article on Gardening Know How explains how “the bacterium…found in soil may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier.” So, stick your hands in the dirt on a regular basis and see what happens.

Watch the sky

Red haired woman laying in grass looking up

People have always been fascinated by the sky above us. We have feared it, we have worshipped it and we have tried to understand it. There are still a great many mysteries surrounding our earth, our solar system and the universe as a whole, and we may never learn everything there is to know, but we can remember to appreciate the awe and beauty that humbles us down here on earth.

The next time the blue sky is dotted with clouds or the night is clear enough to see the brightest stars, take a moment, lay down on the ground and look up—watch the clouds drift across the sky, changing shape as they go, count the stars and name the constellations.

Take a moment to remember the life you have, the sorrow you’ve encountered and the joy you’ve relished in. Breathe and watch as the earth keeps turning, reminding us that time is passing and we get to be a part of the flow.

What other simple things do you really enjoy doing? Let us know! We’d love to give them a try!


About the author

Natalie Virginia Lang

Natalie is a teacher and a freelance writer living in Vancouver, B.C. She can be found writing in cafes around Vancouver, performing at open mic nights, or travelling the world looking for adventure, inspiration, and the joy in living.

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