I want more fun in my life.
On September 18th, 1999, the 20th century, a period defined by some of humanity's greatest strides, events and minds, was closed out by one of it’s most pivotal and incisive works. Episode 10, Season 1 of SpongeBob SquarePants. It’s title now etched eternal within the echoing halls of history. F.U.N.
Mr. Squarepants defined fun thusly:
F is for friends who do stuff together
U is for you and me
N is for anywhere and anytime at all
A simple yet beautifully eloquent compendium. One of companionship and love, but perhaps above all else, a sound endorsement of spontaneity. We like to divide our lives up into digestible and distinct chunks. Work time, leisure time. Focus, relaxation. There’s use in this. Sometimes you do just need to knuckle down and focus on the task at hand, and at others you need to let go of all woes and worries and just chill.
Dave Crenshaw’s latest book, The Power of Fun, espouses how finding ‘Oases’ in everyday life, and interspering them into the daily routine can help keep life fun and flowing. By injecting fun into the mundane we can achieve not only a higher, consistent state of happiness but also see improvements to our work lives. Knocking down that staunch work/life divide. Harvard researchers Phil Stone and Tal Ben-Shahar have shown that happier and more creative workplaces see not only higher levels of productivity and performance, but also greater employee satisfaction, retention, loyalty and cooperation. F is for friends who do stuff together, even Harvard agrees.
The question then isn’t just about how you have fun, but where and when. The answer being; anywhere and any time at all. Perhaps though, this is easier said than done. Maybe your inner city corporate job or 10-6 night shift security gig doesn’t lend itself too well to an expressive and free-form work environment. Even still you can enjoy the small things, and the best way to do that is to get creative yourself. Look at the sections of your day; your morning wake up ritual, your commute, your meals, and get a bit of variety in there.
Don’t just sit and listen to background hum of the radio on the way to work. Instead seek out a podcast on a topic you know nothing about. Or take the earphones out altogether and watch the world you pass through. Take photos of things you like, make each day a little more noteworthy. Do a spot of mediation between brushing your teeth and barrelling out the door. Let a map decide your dinner. Throw a dart, find a country and give its cuisine a go. After a long week at work it can be tempting to fall back into our base pleasures. Rather than looking for what we might enjoy, we just do more of what we’ve always enjoyed. It isn’t too difficult to change that little by little.
Psychologist Stephanie Sarkis has identified some key factors that affect our ability to have more fun. It often derives from expectations. Namely, that fun has to be separate, grand and expensive. Sarkis upholds the Squarepants school of thought, recommending that the best way to get more fun in your life is to be consistently spontaneous. A good new hobby or holiday away on the weekend can give you a much needed breather, but to be consistently happy, we need to spice up our everyday.
Little things can have big effects, but you may still have the craving for a sort of fun that goes further than buying a new breakfast cereal. If that’s you then casting a wider social net can be a great way to branch out. More friends means more people with diverse interests, lifestyles and perspectives. Friends can lead you to places and pastimes you may never have thought to look for. They don’t even have to be new people in your life. Talk to existing compadres and find out what they do from day to day, if something catches your attention then ask to come along. Or perhaps take up something that's new to both of you. It’s can be easier to step into the new and unknown with an old buddy by your side. U, is for you and me.
In building up the fun in life, we can make it into a sort of mission and somewhat ironically take fun a little too seriously. It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees, and in the goal-driven, progress orientated world of today even fun has to be rotored and defined. To find more fun in life you have to allow it to emerge wherever you are. Find fun in failure and humour in the humdrum. N is for anywhere and anytime at all.
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