by Andrea Chilcote
The following post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. This summer, followers of this blog will enjoy bi-weekly archived posts that have appeared on The Spirited Woman but never before on this site.
It’s my guess that even the most lighthearted of you would agree that life on planet earth can be a little heavy at times. And I’ve grown to learn that we have to balance that with heaviness with light. There are many ways to lighten the load. One of them is to have fun.
Almost a year ago, I shared with a friend that I had a goal to have more fun. She asked me what kinds of things were fun for me, and that’s when I knew I was in trouble. It was hard for me to think of any.
Now I have to add a caveat here. The dictionary includes “enjoyment” in the definition of fun. I see them as different. I lead a happy life, and there are many, many things I enjoy. It’s just that most don’t have that quality of light frivolity that defines the essence of fun. For me, fun does not have to be funny, but it has to be light.
So I’ve been searching for fun experiences ever since. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. I’m sharing what I learned here in the hope of sparking the same quest in you, if your life could use a lightening of the load.
Here’s what I learned about fun.
- Fun requires connection – with another person, a group, or the animal companions. I take pleasure in many solitary activities – reading and writing come to mind — and I get great fulfillment from them. Fun requires two or more.
- Fun (for me) has to represent a break from things I find difficult or tedious. A jigsaw puzzle for example, a source of fun for many, does not make my list. That kind of thing creates stress for me.
- Fun requires space, not ticking clocks. Some tasks can be fun or stressful, depending on whether there is time. Recently a friend taught me how to bake bread. It was a fun experience in part because we had the time to do it properly. I have built that time into subsequent loaves and have no desire to rush that special activity.
- Time can be short. A spontaneous romp in the yard with my dogs tops my fun list, and it can be done as stress reliever at just about any time and for as long as I wish.
- Fun has a characteristic similar to that of flow. Flow, proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, is described as complete absorption in what one does. Next time you have fun, notice how your immersion and engagement seem to make the time fly by.
I also learned that fun is very individual when I joined a group of friends for a play that was touted as “hilarious.” Given my quest for fun, it sounded perfect. Not only did I find it silly (not at all funny), I was struck by how many others (most of the people in the theatre) laughed out loud, thoroughly enjoying the performance. I realized (once again) how different we all are. And that’s why your quest for fun, should you take on the challenge I’m offering, will be as unique as you are.
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
–Simon and Garfunkel