Fun and funny (like the “Pondering” below) – even the words make me smile. And why not? Fun is “enjoyment, amusement, or light-hearted pleasure.” Funny is “causing laughter or amusement, humorous.” [Oxford English Dictionary]
Old Joke: Asked by the court barber how he wanted his hair cut, the king replied: “In silence.” *
I know for sure both make me feel good. So, is feeling good in life necessary or superfluous, that is, a necessity or basically useless in the grand scheme of things? Maybe it is purely self-indulgent…. Though conclusions are drawn many times through subjective observations, as opposed to strict, meticulous methods, there are still enough studies that show a positive link to fun, play and laughter.
Want a good reason to take a dance break, read an engaging book, laugh till you cry? Fun improves memory and concentration, so you could say it makes us smarter! From the British Cohort Study that follows people born in 1970, it seems that doing something fun exposes us to new concepts and ideas and encourages self-directed learning.
One-Liner: Working in a mirror factory is something I can totally see myself doing.
It’s certainly possible to have fun by yourself, but it also enhances relationships when we have fun together. Having fun with others builds trust and improves communication; it also gives us a chance to connect and be creative. We have the opportunity to show we’re friendly and approachable, and that we have commonalities, we are alike. Relationship experts from the Gottman Research Institute point out that when we share humour and affection, our conflict-resolution skills improve.
Two-Liner: Two guys walk into a bar. The third one ducks.
Everyone can relate to the stress-reducing benefit of fun activities, including laughing. According to one study, the participants who laughed more often experienced fewer negative feelings, even when stressful situations increased. Is “laughter the best medicine”? It might be, for treating stress, anxiety and depression: https://laughtertherapy.com/
Okay, so what other benefits does fun have? If you build it into your exercise program, ** it can help balance hormones. It is “better” to have a consistent, pleasurable, recreational physical routine than intense physical activity – if you want to positively influence levels of adrenalin, cortisol and norepinephrine (stress hormones). Remember, stress also affects our endocrine, metabolic and immune functions, so the less negative stress, the “better.” (Positive stress/eustress/good stress is “when you perceive a stressful situation as an opportunity that will lead to a good outcome.” Think holidays, a wedding, etc.)
Riddle-Me-This: Why can athletes lift more than prisoners? Because the pros outweigh the cons.
Stress is just plain exhausting; it takes so much out of you. It’s easy to become irritable, grouchy, testy, grumpy, ill-tempered, snappish, you get the idea. What is better at putting the bounce back in your step than some fun?? Take a tip from children, it’s a great way to be more energetic and youthful.
Riddle-Me-Again: What tastes better than it smells? A tongue.
Here’s something to take to work:
If you are staff – you know it’s so much easier to be more productive when you have a sense of satisfaction, which includes feeling comfortable, joyful and fulfilled. When you can have fun or laugh with co-workers you can relate and identify with them, all the while creating a pleasurable common history.
If you deal with the public – when you’re happy, you will be better equipped to make your customers happy, or at least smile (it is contagious). It’s the best way for a win-win scenario.
If you own a company – the trend these days is to create a balance of work and play within the organization: think Google. By nourishing your employees’ creativity and inventiveness, you foster an environment that is supportive of productivity. Oh, heck, you’d have happy, energetic, effective employees who wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.
Office Humour: My boss told me to have a good day…so I went home.
“Lucky 13” benefits of fun:
- Reduced Stress
- Better Quality Sleep (serotonin)
- Increased Creativity
- Improved Social Skills
- Better Problem Solving
- Reduced Pain
- Better Memory
- Increased Energy
- Emotional Healing
- Improved Relationships (especially your love life😉)
- Better Immune Function
- Increased Productivity
Very Punny: Overheard in the Australian Army – “Private, did you come here to die? “No, Sir! I came here yesterday!”
Have you gotten out of the habit of having fun? Does it seem like a waste of time compared to all the other things you have to do in life? Hopefully, you’re a bit more convinced that having fun, playing, laughing, etc. are all worth the time, given the benefits you’ll be rewarded with.
Maybe you just need a little help figuring out how to put some more fun back in your routine. Try making an effort (how ironic). Schedule a time, like you would other important things in life that may slip your mind – even if it’s just to colour for 10 minutes (yep, I still take pleasure in that lol !!) You may find it becomes an enjoyable habit.
Groaner: I’m going to a time management course… just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.
What if scheduling fun is too counterintuitive for you? Then be open to being spontaneous and let things happen naturally. The next time your kids want a cookie, say yes, and help them bake some themselves!
Have you heard of “fake it till you make it”? How about “hack it if you lack it”? Try simple things: smile, pet an animal, hug a tree, kiss a loved one, skip down the block. If you’re feeling especially inspired, write down all the things you find fun (and funny). This can be what’s currently true, what you imagine to be true, what was true when you were a child. Look for a spontaneous smile or a feeling of full body relaxation as you write your list – you’ll know you’re on the right track.
Rate your activities as you go through your day/week for the “fun-factor” (e.g. on a scale of 1 to 10). You may re-evaluate how you spend some of your hours. What if the best time you have is while singing? Perhaps you’ve found a new career (it happened to me!)
Dark Humour: Even people who are good-for-nothing can still bring a smile to your face – for instance, when you push them down the stairs.
Having fun does not have to cost a lot of money; here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Watch the sunrise/sunset
- Go to a museum
- Pick some fruit
- Go fishing
- Smile at a stranger, or five
- Go to the park
- Play a board game
- Have a campfire in your backyard
- Re-arrange your furniture
- Do a jigsaw puzzle
- Go on a bike ride
- Take a free online class
- Plant a garden
- Read a book that’s calling to you
- Sing along with the radio as you drive or in the shower
- Go bowling
- Get ice cream
- Go to the beach
- Try a new recipe
- Go through old photos (scan the ones you treasure)
- Make a romantic dinner
- Play card games
- Go on a scavenger hunt (physically or digitally)
- Pack a picnic lunch
- Do something “touristy” in your own town/state
- Volunteer wherever you find satisfaction
- Go to the library
- Host a movie marathon
- See a comedy show (in your own home, they have them on Zoom now – cheap!)
- Capture the perfect photo
- Write out your bucket list
- Do something off your bucket list
- Rated X – have sex!
BTW, even rats laugh: https://brainworldmagazine.com/the-importance-of-play-an-interview-with-dr-jaak-panksepp/ So Carpe Diem and seize the fish!!
REVISITED – Initial “Pondering”: If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
Subsequently: You don’t need a parachute to go skydiving. You need a parachute to go skydiving twice.
*The 10th oldest joke, found in the world’s oldest “joke book,” called “Philogelos” (or “Laughter-Lover”), written by Greeks Hierocles and Philagrius in the 4th century.
**Please seek the advice of a healthcare professional before you start any exercise program, or alter the one you’re familiar with.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw