“Fun is good.” -Dr. Suess
Quick, what are the top 5 things you do for fun?
Are they rolling off the tip of your tongue?
Is it taking longer than 10 seconds to list?
If yes, then you are sadly within the norm.
Most of us struggle to name the things we do for fun because we spend too much time working. Our work, work, work culture makes us feel guilty for taking the time to have fun.
You may be thinking that having fun is a luxury and only for children, but you’re wrong. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you why.
First, let’s define the word, “fun,” starting with what fun is NOT.
Most people tell me that in their free time they grab drinks with friends, watch their favorite TV show, or surf on their iPad.
There is nothing wrong with these activities, but they aren’t fun. I put them in the category of unwinding.
For one, alcohol is a depressant. It may feel fun after you’ve had a few, but true fun never gives you a hangover the next morning. Quite the opposite, natural fun boosts your energy.
Two, when watching TV your body and mind are completely shut off and disengaged, and that is not fun.
Lastly, surfing the Internet and playing video games is highly addictive, and let’s face it, not fun.
Having fun is not how you relax or unwind.
Other common answers for having fun are cooking, exercising, and reading. Cooking and reading are fabulous things to do with spare time, but again they’re not fun.
Exercise is a tricky one. It can be fun, but not when you’re exercising out of sense of duty to get your arse to the gym. That’s not fun. More on this in a minute.
So what IS fun?
Fun is your source of excitement, enjoyment, amusement, and pleasure.
The following are common traits of fun:
Research shows that time really does fly when you’re having fun. You literally perceive time differently when you’re engaged in an activity that brings you natural joy.
Learning something new
We’re naturally wired to want to learn things. So if you’re learning a new skill that is joyful for you to perform, it will be fun.
Pushing the edges
Studies also show people are most satisfied when they’re pushing at the edges of their natural boundaries. This means you neither stay cocooned in your comfort zone nor go over your limits. There’s a sweet spot at the edges of your comfort zone, and that’s fun.
Endorphins rule, so finding a physically rigorous activity that brings you joy, will boost your fun meter to the max. So yes, exercise can be fun if it’s an activity that brings you joy, not something you force yourself to do. For example, I love to dance, so I go to Zumba twice a week.
There is a caveat here. If you love to run and are training for a marathon, you’ll likely have your days where you hate running. That’s normal. But don’t sign up for a marathon if running is not more or less enjoyable for you.
Building something with your hands or creating with your mind is fun.
There is a wonderful line from Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero Has Two Faces:
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
There’s a hero in all of us with the desire to leave our routine, seek out an adventure, and then return to our routine with new skills and perspective.
This type of adventure can be in the form of hiking Mount Kilimanjaro or going to a salsa club for the first time.
Reminds you of being a child
Remember when you were little and you were having so much fun that you begged your parents to stay up past your bedtime? Any activity that reminds you of this time is fun.
Sources of fun make you laugh.
Why is having fun important?
As a life coach, I help people discover and live their Original Medicine, which is your unique gift or talent that you and only you can bring to the world.
Many of my clients say the same thing: I just don’t know what I want to do with my life.
Knowing what is genuinely and naturally fun for you is key to discovering your Original Medicine.
I’m recovering from Take-Life-Way-Too-Seriously Syndrome, so fun is a deadly serious topic for me (cue laughter).
Until recently, it took me a LONG time to answer the question, “What do I do for fun?”
Now, I can rattle it off fast: sing, dance, ride horse, travel to off the beaten path places, photography, foreign language, attend live music and theater, yoga arm balances and headstands, and attending new agie retreats or seminars.
In an effort to add more fun to my life, I just started taking singing lessons, and it’s damn fun.
For my first lesson I was nervous as hell and pushing the edges of my comfort zone. I was learning something new, using my body, and being creative. After my class on improvisation I was buzzing for the whole day because it was so fun.
A miraculous things happens when you have fun. The fun energy you create trickles to other areas of your life.
I noticed after my singing lessons, my writing was coming more easily, and I was more productive and less irritable.
The following are tips on how to add your sources of fun into your life:
Decide to make the time
You’ll never really know what is fun for you until you just get out there and do it. Click here to read about how to fit a new activity into your busy day.
Schedule a lesson
If you want to learn to dance, Swahili, or learn to ski, then schedule a lesson.
Get a buddy
Instead of drinking buddy, get a fun buddy who’s willing to try out new sources of fun.
Meetup.com is a great website that facilitate offline group meetings and activities. And if they don’t have a meetup in your area on an activity that interests you, then you can create one.
Find gym time activities that are fun for you.
Outdoor activities trump all else. I would not have survived the dark Norwegian winter without cross-country skiing.
Get out of your routine
Most of us go out to dinner on Friday or Saturday night with our partner or with friends. Instead of spending money on high caloric food and alcohol, throw a neighborhood squirt gun fight. How fun would that be??
We are taught that having fun should only be reserved for small pockets of time on the weekends, if that. But having fun boosts your energy, your productivity and your mood.
I challenge you to add one new source of fun into your routine today. Notice how it affects the other areas of your life.
What do you for fun? Or what do you want to start doing? Post a comment below.