By Jessamy Baldwin
Even as you say the word, you can’t help but smile: ‘Fun!’ Your eyes become brighter, your thoughts turn sunnier and your heart beats faster. Fun is something we crave and prioritise from a young age and it’s a concept we should always value. Without fun in our lives, we become bored and indeed boring.
As children, the pursuit of fun dominates the best part of our early days. From hide and seek in the garden and baking cakes (translation: eating raw batter) to painting elaborate wall art and flying kites in the wind, as youngsters we foster a knack for pleasure seeking.
In our youth, fun is a parent-child currency of sorts. Being naughty? No party. Hiding your broccoli under the table? No sleepover. Making your bed? Sure, go play in the garden. Since time began (I’m sure of it) parents have used our love for ‘playtime’ to coax us into good behaviour. And it works. When we’re young, we’ll do anything for fun.
So why is it that as we get older, ‘the real world’ can sap the fun out of things? More importantly, why do we let it?
According to Psychology today, the average four year old laughs 300 times a day, but most 40 year olds only four times.
Yes, we have exams, careers, bills and families to think about. But it’s important not to let the fun fizzle out of our lives. When we make time for exciting activities, spontaneous escapes or interesting hobbies alongside our everyday responsibilities, we become happier and more content regardless of whether we’re ‘working’ or ‘playing’.
To really enjoy life you’ve got to focus on how you can achieve a sense of joy in the short term, as in today, not next month or next year. Stop thinking, thinking, thinking and be, in the words of Eckhart Tolle, ‘fully present in the now’.
There’s a famous quote that says: ‘Life is what happens whilst you’re busy making plans’ – and it’s 100% true. Life can pass us by if we’re always focused on tomorrow. There will always be another tomorrow, but never another today.
Sure, book a holiday for next August. It’s nice to have things to look forward to. But it’s essential you don’t direct all your energy into those future events, or equally, reminisce about the past all day long.
To inject more fun into your life, write down all the crazy, scary, outrageous, outside-the-box things you want to do… and start blimmin well doing them. Want to skydive? Book it. Want to travel to South America? Get on a plane. Want to dye your hair a different colour? Call your hairdresser.
My husband and I recently booked a spontaneous trip to France – granted it wasn’t anything as exciting as Bora Bora or the Maldives – but we had THE best time. We stayed in Air Bnbs, explored hidden trails, kayaked through a giant gorge and my rusty GCSE French even got an airing – not pretty, but tres amusant.
We all fall into ‘fun –ruts’ from time to time – it’s totally normal, and sometimes it can seem like everything is just a tad #intense. The last year has been so busy for me. It’s been full of big life moments. I got married, moved to a new city, got a dog, started my own business and bought a house. It’s been equal parts incredible and stressful. So, sometimes I’ve forgotten to enjoy the little things because the ‘big things’ have taken over a little.
But, you can do both.
Reading, walking beside the sea, listening to music whilst gazing out of a train window, cooking, having drinks with friends, date nights, running, going to the cinema, dancing until your feet hurt, swimming in a lake under the moonlight – these little things can inject more fun into your life each and every day. It’s the quotidian rhythm that can bring us the biggest sense of fulfilment. If you’re always waiting for the big moments – like getting engaged or moving to a new country – your life will be full of mediocre days that build up towards a few momentous ones.
We’ve got to find the fun now.
Having a sense of humour is key. For me, being able to make fun of yourself is one of the most attractive qualities in a person. People who take themselves too seriously are just the worst. And taking yourself too seriously is simply the fear of failure or looking silly in front of your peers. As Oprah Winfrey says, ‘there are no failures’ in life, just lessons.
If you want to have more fun, surround yourself with people you can laugh with – it’s simple science. Research has shown that laughter reduces levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine and dopamine and it can also increase health enhancing hormones such as endorphins and infection fighting antibodies.
Don’t forget to be silly either. My parents are great examples of the ‘age is just a number’ adage. Yesterday they both swung on rope swings 20 ft above the ground near the Fairy Ring. I nearly had a heart attack watching my 60 year old Dad do his best Tarzan impression, but they were having the time of their lives.
And so should we all.
“Go and play. Run around. Build something. Break something. Climb a tree. Get dirty. Get in some trouble. Have some fun.”
― Brom, The Child Thief