Some of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard have to do with hearkening back to childhood.
For example, when you're being hard on yourself, imagine yelling those negative, self-loathing thoughts to a five-year-old you; you never would, so stop doing it to your grown-up self. Or if you're looking for a really flattering hair color, bring a picture of yourself as a toddler to the salon and ask them to match your hair to the shade you had then, and then shove it into the mirror frame with your colorist's family photos and see if she notices.
I'm convinced that picking up old childhood hobbies dropped in or before adulthood would be great advice for anyone looking to inject a little happiness into their grown-up life. I'm not saying you should start sucking your thumb or pooping your pants again (don't tell me those aren't hobbies—those are totally hobbies), but there are a number of things you probably enjoyed in childhood that are still OK to do today, and may still give you a whole lotta joy.
I loved singing in my school chorus in elementary and middle school, for instance, and then I just sort of stopped doing it. The high school I went to in Florida had a chorus for, like, a minute my senior year, and then I never pursued finding and joining any singing groups after that; that is, of course, until last summer when my friend Colleen encouraged me to join the Britpop Choir she was a member of, and now I go through withdrawal in between seasons—like right now—because I enjoy it so damn much.
Because bringing that old childhood activity back into my life in a grownup-friendly way has been such a mood-booster for me, I've been thinking about other hobbies I had as a kid that would make my life a little fuller and happier if I started doing them again now in my mid-30s.
Drawing & Coloring
Even though I didn't inherit my mom's sewing and clothing-tweaking skills, I actually did inherit her drawing ability. I was always pretty darn good at it—especially faces. All I needed was some printer paper and a number-two pencil, and I'd happily sketch my friends for hours on end, usually using photos as a reference.
But since I never took it more seriously than printer paper and a number-two pencil, I felt like I should stop doing it when my peers who actually took art very seriously were making it a priority, fostering their talent and considering it as a possible career path. I don't know why, but I saw drawing as an all-or-nothing hobby. And so I haven't really drawn anything in years.
Coloring, on the other hand, doesn't open many professional doors. I simply stopped doing it because there were no coloring books that really appealed to me after a certain age. Now, however, there are beautiful "adult coloring books" (which does not mean porn, though I'm sure those exist, too), and I'm pretty much going to hoard every one I find.
I actually just found the one pictured above at Marshall's last week, and I might have squealed loud enough to startle someone looking at the nearby scented-candle gallimaufry.
I was an eh cellist. I started playing in second grade—when given the option of violin, viola or cello, I chose cello because I liked wearing pants and staying seated—and by eighth grade, I was somehow the first chair out of four cellists in the middle school orchestra. We just weren't a strong cello town, South Plainfield, New Jersey.
Anyway, even though I never even learned to do the whole vibrato thing and only ever memorized one song (Canon in D, because you never know when a friend might get married, I guess), I really embraced the challenge of playing.
And like trying to learn an entirely new-to-me instrument like the guitar, relearning what I knew of playing the cello and maybe even getting decent at it could be really rewarding. I'd just have to convince my parents to ship my cello from Florida, where it's currently a very lovely piece of their decor.
The reason I quit gymnastics around age 10 changes depending on what day of the week you ask my mom. Sometimes it's because I did an aerial and messed up my shin on the landing; sometimes it's because my parents were concerned it would stunt my growth if I kept at it into my teens; sometimes it's because I was terrified of the bars and beam and I started showing interest in cheerleading because it would let me do just my favorite aspect of gymnastics, tumbling.
I have no idea if adult tumbling classes are a thing, but at the very least, I would love to start doing something fitness-y that's related to gymnastics, like trampoline or trapeze or something else flippy that starts with tra-. It was exhilarating to me as a kid, and as long as I can find a great sports bra, I think it would be an awesome exercise option for me once I regain some of my youthful flexibility and strength.
Making up melodies to Shel Silverstein poems
I can't be the only one who'd read A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends and sing the poems to tunes I was making up as I went along.
I can? OK then. Maybe I shouldn't bring that hobby back.