* Photo is pre-Covid!
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 shopping the next day in Dundrum 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 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 thing fun 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 them to bed on time, eat their veg or not be late for school.
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 to kids of being fun – that fun is part of their very essence as kids – and it can be 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 the ISPCC!), 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) 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 and stressed with work or when feeling weighed down by too many chores, endless to-do lists and “shoulds” …. that’s the real test.
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.
Time for fun
The other day when I found my mood affected by the threat of going to Level 5 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 now?
We are all too aware that we can’t 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. Wearing a silly hat to 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 or embarrassing or forced for you and vice versa. It’s really just about finding the lightness, the laughter, the craic in your own way.
Join me in the Fun 50 Challenge
If you’d like more fun, laughter, joy or spontaneity in your life why not join me in the Fun 50 Challenge. 50 days from now will bring us to December 1st and the run up to Christmas (a time of fun already).
And fun is a social thing – it’s easier with others. So why don’t you email or PM me, or comment here or post photos of your fun things.
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 child or your inner messer and have some fun.
Then watch how your day goes better. Watch how you enjoy life and work more. Notice your energy levels. Notice the effect on other people.
Finally … a fun task on your to do list! 🙂
#Fun50Challenge #Fun50 #fun #resilience #mindset #mentalhealth