Where has all the fun gone?

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It should be so simple. Yet fun seems to get pushed to the back of the to-do queue. Shopping, housework, D.I.Y, chores, work, all seem to take over, and this thing called fun gets relegated to the bottom of the pile.

When was the last time you woke up and thought, “what fun things shall I do today?” rather than how can I fit in the shopping, going to the rubbish tip, picking up the kids, etc. The problem with fun is that life and responsibility somehow just gets in the way. I believe the equation is simple: Increase in responsibility = decrease in fun.

In my book, fun is a necessary component to a full life. Many studies show that the feel good factor and release of “happy hormones” lead to a happier outlook, more flexibility and greater resilience. The ability to play, to immerse ourselves in enjoyable activity is vital for our emotional and physical well-being. I would go so far as to say that fun is both “nurturing” and “healing,” Rather like exercise (another vital life component) engaging in fun activities results in an upturn of energy and positivity. Look at children in any school playground and you can see the outpouring of positive energy and joy, as well as the squeals of pleasure. You could say that pure fun is palpable.

However entrenched we are in the responsibility of daily living all of us can bring some “play-time” into our lives. Many, if not the majority reading this will have a smart phone or iPad to hand. Start by downloading a game or two. Begin to seek out space for freedom and fun. Set a specific time perhaps morning and early evening to check your emails, in-between set a specific time for play-time (you did it when you were at school!) There are so many great apps out there that can bring a bit of fun back into our lives.

If you don’t like the idea of starting with a bit of “cyber-play” look for something else you may enjoy. Remember, play is an activity you do for its own sake. Play promotes fun and relaxation – get out the drawing pad and pencils, paint a picture or buy some air drying clay and make a caricature of yourself, exaggerate your features…have fun.

Here are ten tips to help you to inject a bit of fun back into your life:

1. Think back to your childhood, the games and activities you enjoyed then – and now make a list of all the fun things you do now…compare the two.

2. Be prepared to experiment – try out different things. Having fun means so many things to each of us. Mountaineering might appeal to one person, while paint-balling or putting on a dance DVD might appeal to another.

3. Enlist others to have fun with – phone a friend and “Invite them out to play.” After all you did it when you were young! Just don’t ask anyone who might inhibit you.

4. Aim to try something new each month, for example, going to the theatre, seeing a rock band or taking up zumba dancing. How about looking up a ballet class you can attend in your lunch hour?

5. Look to see what classes are on at your local community centre or adult education establishment.

6. Use your imagination – that’s what its for… what have you always fancied doing but never dared take the risk?

7. Smile more – after all, smiling and fun go hand in hand.

8. Katherine Hepburn once said – “If you obey all the rules, you’ll miss all the fun.” So many of us have self imposed rules, whether it is wearing matching shoes and trousers or a suit to a business meeting. Maybe, these rules have reached their “sell by” date…time for new rules.

9. Reduce stress – relax more.

10. Finally, be in the moment – find pleasure in everything you do. For example, washing dishes, make the water as bubbly as you can, really feel the sensation of the water, the suds, the dishes. Stop multi-tasking and just be mindful.

Remember the phrase – “All work and no play makes William a dull boy.”

Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist.

www.stevecliffordcbt.com

References:                                                                                                                                    “Fight for the right to have fun” Emma Cook                                                                                 “Create more fun in your life”   Prof Ben C Fletcher                                                                        Jan 2012 www.psychologies.co.uk

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