Updated: Sep 5
"What do you do for fun?" I've been asked this question a handful of times in my life and it often stops me in my tracks. I furrow my brow and try to think of something I do that fits that category, all the while thinking, isn't that for kids?
Sound familiar? What do you do for fun and is it really fun at all? Some things that are considered adult fun tend to just be more work, more acheivements, or possibly addictions. My own list is suspect. Most of my 'fun' things are actually meant to relax my overactive nervous system or escape stress. Relaxation is great, but it isn't fun per se.
What is fun to me? Sometimes hanging out with other people is fun though this depends on many factors. I've found social events fun and I've also found them stressful or boring. I garden. Is that fun? Not really. It's more like a necessary evil in order to enjoy the flowers. I used to think shopping was fun. Now I recognize it as a semi-addictive fun-substitute. It provides a blip of dopamine which soon recedes, along with my bank account. Watching sports on tv is fun-ish, but only if my team is winning.
So I'm forced to admit that as self-aware as I am, and knowing full well that fun is important, I have difficulty implementing it in my own life. I have to bring repeated, conscious attention to this area, because I know that for me it is lacking. I have a lot of very serious archetypes that make up my personality and it's easy for me to overlook the 'childish' idea of play.
In reality, fun is not a kids thing, fun is a human thing. It's important for well-being at any age. In our society we have made adulting a serious business. You're expected to grow up and drop the frivolous pursuits and silliness. The problem is they're not frivolous. Having fun raises the levels of all those 'happiness'-producing neurochemicals that we all need. But so many 'fun' things turn into stressful things if we invite perfectionism and judgment along for the ride.
This can show up as needing to do a hobby right or well for it to be worthwhile. Or needing to be at the top of the pottery class or best on the team. It can be wanting to jump into a pile of leaves but feeling it's foolish or undignified. It can be failing to invite people over in case they judge your event as lacking.
"Do anything, but let it produce joy." -Walt Whitman
Perhaps fun is a state of mind, in some ways. It seems we've made a lot of fun things into stressful things or acheivement-based things. But we can change it back, too. Much of it is in the approach, such as releasing the idea of what other people might think of you.
In fact, one way to inject fun into your life may simply be to do something distincly childish. This idea of acting like a grown-up all of the time is truly soul-crushing. If we're going to do something for fun, let's check our need for productivity, correctness or acheivement at the door.
What would happen in your own life if you prioritized fun and consciously attempted to insert it into your life? What might you do more of or less of? How can you let go of perfectionism and fear of being judged? The new year is at our doorstep. It's a perfect time to implement change and having a good time is a great change to make.