Tonight my daughter Lexi declared that she needed to create her own sticker chart because clearly my “sometimes activities” like pizza for dinner and playdates and going somewhere awesome is just not happening at a pace that meets her hopes. I like this about my daughter, she’s ambitious and she seeks what she wants most.
My husband comes home and doesn’t understand the “reward” nature of the sticker chart and assumes that she’ll be collecting stickers every time these events happen. He’s in finance, I see his logic. And it was in that moment that I was a trend-spotter before the trend has taken off like adult coloring books and fine tip pens and markers.
I’m calling it: The next big thing will be adult sticker charts.
You can wait until the aisles of every paper store has the adult sticker chart or you can totally create your own at home. There are two methods for doing so that based on my recent lessons will be effective.
Method One: Work Hard to Play Hard
You recognize that the way your brain works is you need to reward certain activities so you assign a sticker value and a prize when you reach reward milestones.
example: Workout for 30 minutes= 1 sticker; 15 stickers = pedicure with extra massage time.
Why this will work: Because you’re creating measurable steps towards a greater benefit later. This flexes your patience muscles and teaches you the power of delayed gratification. If you’ve ever rewarded yourself with chocolate cake on day 5 of your Whole30 this is the one to try.
Method Two: Appreciate the Goodness You Value Today
This method is perfect if there’s a lot of awesome happening around you and you feel like you’re desensitized to it. That daily chai that you once had great appreciation for has turned into the landscape of your day. You have the malaise and you can’t quite put your finger on why.
Example: Perfect temperature Chai Tea = 1 sticker; Friendly barista who spelled your name correctly = 1 sticker; Birds chirping even in the rain = 1 sticker
Why this will work: There’s a lot of research about the benefits of gratitude (here’s one of my favorites from Harvard Mental Health) in your life and the sticker chart will just show you the scope of how big your gratitude is — put a sticker on something and it does not blend into the landscape of your average Thursday, it stands out. Plus it doesn’t involve you writing all of this stuff down, it’s goodness, it’s appreciated, it gets a sticker and thank you more please.
Both of these Methods will do the following:
- Force you to actually think about what is fun as a “grown-up” because if you’ve been out of the practice of having fun it can take some effort to think about what fun looks like for you today.
- In identifying this source of fun you can seek it out more in your life either through Method One or Method Two.
- Fun does not have to be a solo sport (although some alone time fun can be exactly what you need) so you’ll be bringing others along for your pursuit of joy and this will enrich your relationships and improve your sense of community.
- You’ll be using stickers, which, if you’re anything like me is something you once equated to a lot of fun. Or maybe you’re more of a gold sharpie star kind of person or incredibly efficient hash-marks. You do you, but even this part of the process can be fun so make sure to take advantage of it.
Finding Fun as an adult is hard work I would love for you to head to the comments and share what you’ve found to be FUN recently. I’ll see you there!
Originally published at medium.com