Are We Having Any Fun Yet?
It’s Fun-fest week in Essex. Other communities celebrate the summer with corn, strawberries, tomatoes, and wine. We in Essex mark our seasonal festival with fun!
A Google dictionary search defines fun as, “enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure.” One of the standard questions I ask clients when I see them for the first time is, “What do you do for fun?” I am shocked with the disclosures of how impoverished their lives are with the lack of enjoyment and pleasure.
Most mood disorders, including depression and anxiety, as well as much of our society’s relationship distress and high levels of personal unhappiness can be correlated with our inability to soothe ourselves with fun activity. We can debate the causes and argue the ‘evolutionary pathway’ of how things happen. But there can be no doubt that we have witnessed a marked decline in our aptitude to truly experience fun and enjoyment in life.
Here are 5 strategies for having fun that clients have shared with me:
- Schedule it. We need to be intentional about having fun. Good fun doesn’t always ‘just happen’. Plan it - make a play appointment: lunch with a friend, dinner on a patio, a golf tee-time, camping trip, biking, canoeing, summer recess! Make a list of 25 things you like to do for fun, or have never done for fun, and start to schedule them into your life, one at a time.
- Mix it up. Look for ways to vary your fun - things you do on your own or with others, things that require advance planning, those that happen spontaneously, and things that require money or that you can do for free. Not all fun needs to happen in the same way all the time.
- Re-discover our roots. Most of us learned to have fun when we were children - in a sandbox or pool, on a summer vacation, at camp, etc. What did we learn early on in our childhood about ourselves that we can recover/re-discover for fun?
- Allow some fun in unexpected places. Work can be fun. The best funerals share funny stories about loved ones. I had fun recently while watching our dog Tessa try to retrieve a giant log out of the lake where we were camping. Challenging life experiences are often best endured through times of respite in which a good book, funny movie, or enjoyable hobby give us pleasure and comfort for the journey.
- Keep fun company. Fun is contagious and we are uplifted by people who like to have fun and who are fun to be around. Who are they for us?
As we move into Fun-fest weekend and the early stages of summer, let’s remind ourselves to look for ways to allow play and enjoyment to help us be emotionally healthy!