F is for Fun
I have a saying - “It’s not always Guinness and giggles”. In April 2019 I went to Dublin with my three sisters. We drank Guinness and giggled a lot! From the Irish dancing on the first night, to the Elvis tribute concert and the Temple Bar we sang in, to the taxi ride back to the airport, our weekend was characterised by fun. We were relaxed, in holiday mode, happy to be with each other, sharing in our love of music and time seemed to expand and slow down.
My saying comes as a result of being in the midst of a pandemic a year later. It was April 2020 and I was in the kitchen, listening to the news on the radio, reflecting on where I had been the previous year and the sobering thought that “it’s not always Guinness and giggles” came to mind.
Life is about ebb and flow, up and down. There are times of happiness and sadness, days of joy and nights of despair. That is the fullness of life.
Life is about ebb and flow, up and down. There are times of happiness and sadness, days of joy and nights of despair. That is the fullness of life. And it can be tough. But I believe that’s why we have been given moments of light, times of levity and the ability to experience fun. Having fun creates memories that we can return to in times of sadness, that we can hold on to when our world is turned upside down and give us hope that “this too shall pass”.
So, my question to you is, how much fun do you have? Do you have some every day, on the weekends or reserve it only for special occasions? It’s an important question to ask yourself, as it’s all too easy to go from one day, week or month to the next without welcoming this much needed element into our lives.
Cathrine Price, author and expert on fun, states that fun happens when we experience the combination of playfulness, connection and flow. These can be translated as pleasure and light-heartedness, shared experience and being absorbed in a state where you lose track of time. Fun is not mindless, but is active and without stating the obvious, it is enjoyable, not simply leisure time.
Research has shown that fun is good for our wellbeing. It increases our resilience, boosts our immune systemand lowers our stress levels. Fun feels good, makes us smile and lifts our spirits. So how can we have more of it, a daily dose of the fun stuff?
Find your fun
Understand and get to know what fun is for you. Just as important as asking when do you have fun, is what fun do you have, or enjoy? What’s fun for you, might not be fun for someone else. Fun for me looks like: camping, horse riding, paddle boarding, playing Uno, playing board games, riding my bike, gardening, writing, reading, knitting, listening to stories, meeting new people…the list goes on!
Now it’s your turn. What things bring you joy, happiness, pleasure? Can you think of activities you do with others where you share in the fun? What about getting into the flow state, where time becomes meaningless?
You could write a fun list and split the activities into 3 sections if it helps: every day, once a week, and specialtimes.
So, my list would be split into the following:
Every day: writing, reading, listening to stories, telling jokes.
Weekly: gardening, knitting, riding my bike, playing board games/Uno, meeting new people, eating ice cream.
Special times: camping, paddle boarding, horse riding.
Give it a try and see what you come up with.
Having a list of ideas allows you to start small. For example, as much as I’d love to, I cannot horse ride or go camping every day. And so, I choose smaller, simpler things to incorporate into my daily life such as writing and listening to stories (usually via podcasts). These shorter activities become part of my day-to-day routine without too much thought or planning. In fact, they become habits. The easier they are to do and fit into or add to my current situation and tasks, the better they’ll stick and become part of the norm.
The thought that I can bring a daily dose of fun into my life puts a smile on my face. Fun is then no longer a luxury or frivolous, but essential. It is far more beneficial to have smaller, regular moments of happiness, connection and flow throughout our days, than to save it all up for one big blow out once a year. Little and often is key.
Plan it in
And when it comes to bigger fun factors, like times that I garden, meet new people or play games – these sometimes have to be planned in. You see, my intentions might be good, and I can think about having fun all day long, but until it is planned in – literally written in my diary – then it is just a wish.
Writing something down has been proven to increase your chances of doing it by 42%. So, if you write down when and where and with whom you plan to have fun, and stick to it like any other appointment, you are more likely to do it.
Choose something from your weekly fun list to plan in this week, organise your time to make it happen and stick to it. You could even switch on the repeat function on your digital calendar and ensure this happens once a week or month.
Share the fun
Fun is infectious and is usually best when shared. I remember the times I have had fun with others, far more than the times I have had fun alone. Recently I asked a group of people I was doing a workshop with when they felt most connected to others. The majority answered when they felt they had something in common with someone. Fun connects us and acts like a bridge between two individuals to create a powerful common experience.
The shared activity allows for deeper connections, improved relationships and stronger bonds between people. Not only that, the memories you create together are shared and can be revived and relived through future conversation. You can have the best time, but when it is with someone, the sharing allows that moment to run deeper.
Again, look at your fun list and think about who you know that shares your interests and could benefit from connecting through fun.
Scrolling on Pinterest is something I enjoy, and I can lose track of time flicking through interiors magazines, but these aren’t always intentional, they are usually mindless. Fun in its fullness has purpose and meaning.
Take another look at the list you've written, are these activities intentional and purposeful? Could you add in more fun to something that you do on autopilot? I enjoy walking, but I do not class this as fun. But if you add in a friend or two and an ice cream – that's when the fun begins!
This may seem to contradict the previous points – but fun can be spontaneous too. How often has some ordinary task or activity turned into fun, without you really expecting it. Or you may wake up one morning, and on a whim decide to do something fun. Or, as with my story of Dublin, you open a door and fun is there waiting for you.
You see, when I was in Dublin, I didn’t really want to go to The Temple Bar late on the Saturday night. This bar is a renowned tourist hot spot and is rammed, elbow to elbow, full of people drinking. But when we arrived (my sisters persuaded me!) and we open the door, the live band on stage struck up one of my favorite songs and I was in the middle of the throng of people, arms in the air, singing ‘Country roads take me home!’ at the top of my lungs! I had a lot of fun that night – and it’s a memory my sisters often remind me of.
So, have a think about where you’re having fun in your life, and what you can do to increase the times of playfulness, connection and flow. I’d love to know your thoughts on this in the comments below, or on my social feeds - @iamsarahalexcarter You may want to share this with others who you know could benefit and reach out to your family and friends to create more fun memories. You can also click to subscribe and join me on this journey from A to Z and be the first to receive updates and posts.