If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed by work and life at the moment you might be wondering how exploring ‘fun’ is going to help you. But recent experiences of two of my new coaching clients has shown how making sure that you are enjoying life can have a profound impact on how you feel and perform. Both of these clients, for very different reasons, were struggling with work and life generally. They had become overwhelmed by work, with little time or energy for anything else. After the first coaching session both had decided to take more time out at the weekend having fun times with their family, and the difference even within one month was huge. The benefits they experienced included:
‘If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.’
I always say that the level of laughter in any team or office is a good indicator of the level of rapport and how well people get on with each other. It is hard to have a laugh with someone whom you don’t get on well with. Sometimes it is laughing in the face of adversity, sometimes it is allowing yourself some down time to stop, chat, have a laugh. Laughter raises our energy levels, decreases the threat response in our brains and can actually aid productivity. See my 2006 Inspire on ‘Lightening Life With A Bit Of Laughter’, click here.
‘Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves; they will have no end of fun.’
‘Whoever is happy will make others happy too.’
If you have children, you probably spend much of the weekend ferrying them around to parties and activities, where they are having a great time but there is not much fun in it for you. Also, family members are often all off doing their different things but perhaps only occasionally having joint fun times together. There might be something in ‘families that play/laugh together, stay together’. It can be hard to find activities that everyone enjoys but not impossible. A shared experience becomes shared memories to savour in the future.
What did you used to do in the past that everyone enjoyed doing? What new activities can you do?
‘It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘what’s for lunch?’
Pooh’s Little Instruction Book
For some people, having fun might not always come naturally. Certainly for myself, before I had mastered my inner critic, learned to look after my inner ‘fearful child’, relaxing and having fun was difficult without the aid of lots of alcohol. Fortunately, having undertaken a lot of personal and spiritual development I’m even able to ‘laugh in the face of adversity’ and, as a friend put it once, ‘You’re very good at finding the joy in the shit!!’ Which might be a title of a future book!
So how do you free your fun child?
- Master Your Inner Critic - My book could have been called Master Your Inner Critic, Free Your Fun Child (see here) as one of the many benefits of mastering my inner critic is that I am a lot more relaxed and able to have fun and have a laugh.
- ‘Shoulds’ versus wants – Ask yourself what do you really want to do this week, rather than think ‘but I must’ or should ‘do the garden/paint the spare room/take the kids to judo’, etc., etc. Obviously there are things we have to do which might not be much fun, e.g. shopping, doing the washing, etc. but it is too easy for adults to spend their lives doing the ‘shoulds’ and never asking themselves what they want to do.
- Ignore the rational, logical mind once in a while – One sunny February day I woke up and thought I want to go to the seaside. I love being by the sea and don’t spend enough time there. My logical mind said, ‘that is ridiculous, it will cost lots of money to drive there, it won’t be very environmentally friendly and in February the days are short so you won’t have much daylight to enjoy it. Fortunately my Fun Child won out, I put a finger on a map, went to somewhere I’d never been before and had an amazing day by the sea, found a fort at the end of a spit which I didn’t know was there and saw the Isle of Wight for the first time.
- Be spontaneous – Linked to the above point, and the fact that our weather is so unpredictable, being spontaneous is even more important nowadays. One of my coaching clients, who had been feeling very demotivate and lethargic both in and out of work, woke at 5am one Saturday, saw that the weather forecast was good for the weekend, woke his wife and kids and said, ‘Let’s go camping’. And they had a wonderful time, and you could hear and see the energy as he spoke about it even weeks after the event. And if your partner wakes you at 5am and says, ‘Let’s do X’, don’t tell them to **** off, first of all think about how much fun it might be.
- What did you do in the past? It is never too late to rekindle some old friendships and activities but don’t leave it until it is too late. A close friend of mine from university days has terminal cancer. He is mad about music (one of his first tasks on finding out he had terminal cancer was to choose the music for his funeral!). He decided to reform his old university band (The Trophy Cabinet thetrophycabinet.bandcamp.com) and they have had gigs in Oxford and elsewhere. He was also moved to contact The Wedding Present, one of his favourite bands, explain his situation and he ended up being the 2nd supporting act for them at the O2 in Oxford, creating great opportunities for fun and games for the whole band and all of us groupies!
‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.’