“I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun.” ~Katharine Hepburn
Fun is underrated.
As adults, our lives are complicated and often very serious. We are involved in the serious business of grown-up stuff. We work hard. We support our families. We worry about money and higher prices. We fret about the condition of the world, politics, our children. We have endless chores and tasks without much time for fun.
Sometimes when I act silly and dance around the kitchen, my kids look at me like I’m a freak. I know what they are thinking. I can read their minds. “What do you have to be so happy about you loony tune? You’re a grown-up. Stop having fun this instant.”
I used to straighten up right away when they gave me the stink-eye. That was before I grew younger as I’ve aged. Now I just dance some more. I’ve realized that fun is essential. What are we working so hard for anyway?
Fun doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant.
I did learn that from my stink-eyed children. In the summer, they can have fun from morning until bedtime, only pausing for meals. One summer I watched my son and his friends construct what I lovingly named “The Polish Taxi” (no offense to Polish people). The Polish Taxi was a plastic lawn chair duct taped to two skateboards. It took them hours to construct it. Then they spent the rest of the day pulling each other around behind a bicycle. Now that’s fun.
I did something really fun and fairly out-of-character for me recently. I went to REI and bought a bicycle. A pretty nice hybrid bicycle that involves gear shifting and wearing padded pants. (The last bike I owned had a banana seat with flower power stickers.) We live near a bike trail along the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, and I have been riding a lot. Getting on that bike was like a time-travel experience back to childhood. It was liberating fun.
Now I look for opportunities for fun. I figure all of the hard work I’ve done with my career and raising children deserves some pay-off. And even if you’re in the middle of working hard and raising children, you should still have as much fun as possible, because life is short and there’s no guarantee of a Polish Taxi in heaven.
1. Take yourself and your life less seriously. Lighten up about the serious business of being an adult. Serious business will always be there whether or not you choose to focus on it all the time.
2. Embrace the truth that fun is good. You don’t need to feel guilty or embarrassed about having fun. Being an adult doesn’t mean you’ve lost the child-like quality of wonder and joy and wild abandonment.
3. Don’t be self-conscious. It’s OK to look goofy and unabashedly happy sometimes. Let your hair fly in the wind.
4. Remember what was fun as a child. I loved riding my bike. Some of the old-fashioned stuff is still the most fun. Here are some other fun things you might try again:
- flying a kite
- throwing a ball
- wading in a stream
- reading in a hammock
- building a sandcastle
- having a picnic
- playing cards
- jumping on a trampoline
- riding with the windows down
4. Nourish your friendships so that you have partners in fun. Some of the most fun occasions in my life have been with my girlfriends. Become the fun instigator of your circle. I’ve recently thought about having a pajama party brunch when Will and Kate (the Royals) get married. Imagine the stink-eye I’ll get from my teenagers! Hah! That will be fun too.
5. Build time for fun with your spouse or partner. Think back on the times when you were first together and the fun you created naturally. Rekindle those moments. Be playful. Make him/her laugh with silliness or private jokes. Take fun into the bedroom.
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6. Share fun with your children. It’s easy to go off into your separate corners of the house to do chores, homework, computer surfing. Connect with your children through fun. They are the masters of it, so let them take the lead with a game, a hobby, or a trip to an amusement park.
7. Be creative and spontaneous. All fun activities don’t have to be planned or traditional. Maybe creating a Polish Taxi isn’t your idea of fun, but come up with something unexpected or surprising. Start a water balloon fight with your kids or have an impromptu scavenger hunt with your neighbors.
8. Make it non-competitive. There are many sports and games that are loads of fun until it starts getting competitive. Then lighthearted fun can quickly morph into an ego-based urge to win. That’s a different kind of fun that stokes a different part of the psyche.
9. Be child-like, but remember your limits. I was urged by my kids to body surf in the ocean a few years back. They were having so much fun, and I wanted to join in. But with the first big wave, I was slammed to the ocean floor face first and sported a lovely abrasion from brow to chin for the remainder of the vacation.
10. Plan fun into your life. It’s easy to forget about fun. It’s been so long since it lived with us every day as a regular companion. Fun may not come knocking at your door, so you may have to invite it in. Plan fun activities with your family and friends. Look for opportunities to experience fun. Find ways to make the tedious tasks of life more interesting and fun to enliven your spirit and brighten your day.
I’m convinced that we are programmed from birth to have fun and enjoy this beautiful Earth we call home. It’s only as we age that real fun is abandoned for the pursuit of it. As proof of this, I’d like to share this video of toddlers having fun before they learn to tone it down. (Please ignore any commercial message.)
I hope you enjoy! Now go have some fun. And share what you do for fun in the comments.