A few years ago, I wasn’t enjoying my life as much as normal and a friend suggested writing in my gratitude journal. Since I very consciously and actively practice gratitude in my life, what she said wasn’t sitting right with me, and I was still mulling over it the next day when I had an aha moment. I don’t need my gratitude journal – what I need is a fun journal!
For those of you who find the fun in everything and are always having a laugh, you can stop reading now. This blog is not for you.
For those who recognise the hard working, achieving, ’good girl’/’good boy’ in yourself, and that fun typically happens when you’ve got everything else ‘done’ – read on.
The idea of having more fun in my life was nothing new to me. Conditioned from a young age to be a good girl, it had been a theme following me round for a long time and I’d TRIED to be more fun. I even laughed with my coach at the irony of “working at” having more fun. But none of it really stuck. I’d prioritise fun for a few days and then life would get busy or stressful or there’d be important stuff to get done and my responsible, good girl side would kick back in.
The Fun Journal
So after my aha moment, I immediately took myself to Smiggle in search of the sparkliest, silliest notebook and pen I could find (enjoying telling the lady in the queue beside me that – yes – this was for ME – the normal target market for Smiggle being 9-12 year old tweens!).
As I sat having a coffee with my new Fun Journal, an idea came to me …. why not write down every day one fun thing I did, or times when I was ‘being’ fun or having fun. And then I thought … why not do this for 50 days??
And so the Fun 50 Challenge was born.
I’ve done this challenge three times now and, apart from it obviously increasing the amount of fun in my life and work, I found it also lead to some unexpected benefits.
Here are the three key things I discovered:
1. Fun 50 improved relationships
The greatest benefit I found – and one I had no idea would happen the first time I did it – was that my relationship with my kids improved significantly.
The challenge got me to do more silly things with them – more messing, more playing, more joking around, more laughing, more being silly, more finding the fun in the small things.
The kids of course loved this. And I enjoyed them seeing my fun side and not just the mum who‘s trying to get them off their technology or tidy up after themselves.
As adults (or at least adults like me for whom being playful and jokey isn’t our natural state), it’s easy to forget the importance of fun to kids. Fun is part of their very essence. It’s their default setting and central to the way they learn and grow.
Yet it can be so easy to not prioritise it when there’s a million other things that ‘need’ to be done.
After one spur of the moment drive with the kids sticking their heads out of the sun roof (with no traffic, in our cul-de-sac at about 5km per hour – no need to call child protection!), my son said “I love the fact you’re such a fun and spontaneous mum. I bet NONE of the other mums at school would do this”. Praise indeed from my (not typically liberal with the compliments!) at the time 12 year old.
2. It helps the boring or stressful times
It’s relatively easy to be fun or have fun when life is going well.
I’ve also always been good at ‘adventures’ – spontaneous outings, moonlit swims, toasting marshmallows over fires … that kind of fun comes easily to me. But finding the fun when busy or stressed or when feeling weighed down by too many “shoulds” or things you “have to” do, …. that’s much harder for me.
But by challenging myself to do this EVERY day, I discovered I could actually find the fun in tough situations, stressful times or in the boring or mundane and that “A spoonful of sugar” really does “make the medicine go down”.
3. Even if it felt forced, it was worth doing
Just because it sometimes felt a bit ‘forced’ (usually when I realised I hadn’t done my Fun 50 for the day!), it often still ended up being a bit of fun or leading to something positive. It’s a bit like taking exercise – even when you don‘t feel in the mood, it’s still good for you.
Last year, when I found my mood affected by the threat of going to Level 5 again and facing into more uncertainty and the possibility of a winter lockdown, the thought came into my mind – “Joy is within”. I can choose my mood no matter what is going on externally. And I realised in that moment it was time for Fun 50 again.
So how do you do this – especially during the challenges of Covid?
We couldn’t of course do many of our usual fun things like concerts, parties and spontaneous meet-ups with friends. But even before Covid, the Fun 50 is actually mostly about the little things.
A little moment of banter or a laugh with a colleague, friend or the person at the Tesco checkout or at the place you get your takeaway coffee.
It’s switching from the news to a funny podcast. Taking silly selfies. Blasting music and singing at the top of your voice in the shower or car. Dancing round your kitchen – just cos. Screeching (or swearing!) with friends as you launch yourself into icy cold waters for a mid winter dip. Deciding to have some fun or a laugh on your next Zoom call. Or as us Irish would say, just ‘having the craic’.
And it’s important you do the things YOU find fun. What I might find fun, might be awkward, embarrassing or forced for you and vice versa. It’s really just about finding the lightness, the laughter, the craic in your own way. Whatever works for you.
Join me in a Fun 50 Challenge
If you’d like more fun, laughter, joy or spontaneity in your life why not do a Fun 50 Challenge yourself?
And if 50 sounds like too much, why not do Fun 15 instead (this isn’t meant to be a chore after all!).
So – go on. Reconnect with your inner messer and have some fun.
Then watch how your day goes better. Watch how you enjoy life and work more. Notice the improvement in your energy levels. Notice the positive effect on other people.
Finally … a fun task on your to do list! 🙂