People love talking about having fun. Listening to them, I’ve often wondered if maybe I was missing something. When asked what I do for fun, I’ve been reluctant to answer. I’ve learned by the look on people’s faces it might not be what they expect to hear. Or maybe it just doesn’t sound like fun to them.
Growing up during the 60s was an exciting revolutionary time. The hippie era flourished and free love, sex, drugs and rock & roll became part of the lifestyle of the day. It was a time when people enjoyed life, indulging themselves in fun and pleasure. Some people at least. Just not me.
When I channeled the title for my book Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie, I was excited, as it made perfect sense to me. After all, my “hippie” was all about the values of peace and love, music and art, exploration and transformation. The more serious stuff. It was my brother Niel, who broke the news to me that I wasn’t really a “hippie.” Hmm. My idea of fun has always been, well, much more serious. Fun for me is all about learning new things.
What Does “Fun” Mean Anyway?
When I went to the dictionary to look up the definition of fun, I was curious to see if maybe what I got from learning new things would qualify as “fun.” Fun means enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure as in “the children were having fun in the play area.”
Fun is about jollification, merrymaking, recreation, diversion, leisure, relaxation; a good time, a great time; high spirits, laughter, hilarity, glee, gladness, lightheartedness, levity. You get the idea. Learning definitely brings me enjoyment and pleasure, often amusing me and offering a diversion too. This reassured me that learning does officially qualify as fun–at least for me.
Bringing Childhood Fun into Adulthood
Children are fascinating to observe. They live from a place of wonder and joy, finding pleasure and fun in even the smallest of moments. They appear to simply have fun just from being.Children are fascinating to observe. They live from a place of wonder and joy, finding pleasure and fun in even the smallest of moments. They appear to simply have fun just from being. #fun #children #beingClick To Tweet
Curious how we bring fun into our lives as adults and the importance of actually taking time for it in our stressed-filled 24/7 non-stop world, it was time to look deeper. Albert Einstein’s quote, “Play is the highest form of research,” opened the door.
Understanding Play and Fun
A wonderful Psychology Today article offered me new ways of understanding play and fun. Researchers have found that unstructured play, where partners have to negotiate the rules, is most important in creating beneficial effects on the prefrontal cortex of our brain. The article states “Play is serious business.” My point exactly.
It goes on to say, “This sounds paradoxical and it is, in so much as something that comes so naturally to large-brained mammals (and birds, according to some authorities), that is so much fun, is so vital. Play is a banquet for the brain, a smorgasbord for the senses, providing nourishment for body and spirit: sad then that as a society we seem to be starving ourselves of it.” Indeed.
So why is this and what’s the impact of not enough fun and play in our lives?
Why Fun And Play Are Important
The research of Stuart Brown, founder and president of the U.S. National Institute for Play and author of Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul (2009), reveals that severely play-deprived children manifest multiple mental or behavioral disorders. On the flip side, the histories of successful, creative people show social play’s vital part in healthy development. It seems that emotional control, social competency, personal resiliency and curiosity accumulate through developmentally suitable play experiences.
Other studies have found that play-deprived children manifest responses on a scale ranging from unhappiness to aggression. What happens to these children as they become adults? Could this lack of play as children possibly be a contributing factor to much of the unhappiness, depression and pent-up anger in our world today?
Creativity Declines Without Play and Fun
Besides the link to possible mental or behavioral disorders, there is also a price to pay in terms of declining creativity. In their book Play, Playfulness, Creativity and Innovation (2013), Bateson and his Cambridge colleague Paul Martin argue that playfulness facilitates originality in nature and society, meaning a lack of it should be a warning sign to educators and academics that there is a dramatic need for change. Perhaps this isn’t news to the 33 million plus people who have viewed Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”Creativity declines without play and fun in our lives! #creativity #play #funClick To Tweet
“Interventions that provide children with greater opportunities for play make them more creative,” Bateson says. “Conversely, fears about safety and the pressures of school curricula are reducing opportunities for free play. These trends are associated with a decline in the ability to come up with new ideas.” It’s no secret that creatives will rule the future, which makes it all the more crucial that children are given this opportunity to play and have fun. Our future could depend on it.
Your Funprint is a Unique Expression of YOU
Then I came across a piece by author and coach Martha Beck that offered some interesting insights about fun and how it expresses in us individually. She says that each of us is born with an inclination to have fun doing certain types of activities, in certain proportions–you may love doing something I hate and vice versa. I totally got this. Maybe you love partying with lots of people around. For me, that isn’t at all fun, as I prefer a small group of people having one-on-one conversations. Hopefully learning new things.
She refers to the pattern of activities people enjoy most as their “funprint”, likening it to your thumbprint, in that it’s unique to you. More and more the research shows thatWe are most productive, persistent, creative, and flexible when we're engaged in precisely the combination of activities that brings us maximum fun. #fun #creativity #joyClick To Tweet
The Benefits of Having Fun
Having fun has a list of impressive benefits. It helps to relieve stress, improves brain function, stimulates the mind and contributes to our creativity. It also improves relationships and our connection to others and keeps us feeling young and energetic. Who wouldn’t want their life to include all of these? Is it any wonder then that people living life with little or no enjoyment, are operating at less than their most productive and creative selves? We see this reflected everywhere in our world today.Fun has a list of impressive benefits. It helps to relieve stress, improves brain function, stimulates the mind and contributes to our creativity. It also improves relationships and our connection to others and keeps us feeling young and energetic. #funClick To Tweet
Beck also says that your funprint isn’t at all a frivolous indulgence. It is very important to your soul, as it is the map of your true life, an “instruction manual for your essential purpose, written in the language of joy“. Loved reading this, and realized we all would be wise to take fun more seriously.
Taking Fun Seriously
Beck believes that learning to read and respond to your funprint is one of the most crucial things you’ll ever do for yourself. Now I see that if learning new things is fun and stimulates my imagination and creativity, then that is perfect for me and who I am. It’s part of my overall funprint.
Although we have more leisure time in our lives, we are having less fun. We could reap the benefits throughout our lives if we would give ourselves permission to indulge in some childlike fun. Realizing that I might not have been taking fun seriously, I’m committed to now share freely my own particular brand of fun without hesitation with anyone who asks. And to keep exploring and living my own funprint to the max.
How about you? What does your personal funprint look like and what fun things do you include in your day-to-day life?
My passion is to share information I’ve learned through my own life experiences and health has been a big one. If you’re ready to take your health to the next level, I invite you to a complimentary wellness consult. Have fun and stay healthy!
This is such a fun and well researched post, Beverley! I do believe that as adults, we need to recognize the importance of making time to have fun in our lives.
I also believe that we as parents need to let our children have fun and the permission to simply play. Life gets so hectic and children are involved in so many organized activities. They, too, need to simply play. 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Robin. I agree with you that we adults often forget about the need to have fun, and it is important we make sure our children have the time and space to play and enjoy life. Fun does seem to be overly organized in today’s world, so we could use some lightening up and just enjoying life. Here’s to fun and play!
Wow, this is an excellent research! I totally agree with you that having fun helps to relieve stress, improves brain function, stimulates the mind and contributes to our creativity.Personally, I love having fun and going out with my family or having a good time during the weekends.
Thanks so much Apolline! So happy you agreed with much of the research in this post, about the health benefits of having fun. It sounds like you really include fun things in your life and that your family is part of your personal ‘funprint’.
Beverley, I have learned in recent years that having FUN is as important as ‘business’. I love dancing, watching movies, listening to music, getting mani/Pedi’s, watching comedies, laughing with my kids (which is a daily thing), painting, bowling and playing other games all help me alleviate stress. Thanks for the reminder that we must infuse FUN in our daily lives!
Tandy Elisala recently posted…12 Laws of Leadership: Law of Learning
Love all the energy and enthusiasm you always share, Tandy! I know much of this has been from lessons learned through your health issues. I really get this too! Love all the things you consciously do to include fun in your life. Sounds like your days are packed with fun activities all the time! And yes, we do need to infuse fun into our daily lives and to remember to do that too!
I was surprised ed at how much this resonated with me. I had a fun-less childhood in the main, quite strict, we were seen and not heard etc… I try to be better with my kids, have fun, giggles, make happy memories.
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So happy to hear this resonated with you Sonya! It is wonderful to hear that your childhood and how it lacked fun, made you more conscious of including fun in the lives of your children and your family! That’s the encouraging part of the story!
Beverley, this is so perfect for me. I choose a word each year to focus on and my word for 2017 is Pleasure! I love Beck “refers to the pattern of activities people enjoy most as their “funprint”, likening it to your thumbprint, in that it’s unique to you. That is so exciting! There are so many pearls in this writing.
Last year I was at dinner with a film group. I was sharing about journaling and the woman next to me said she doesn’t journal. She said she took a class once and the facilitator had them write about having fun. She said she couldn’t think of anything she did that was fun and so quit the class. She was kind of bitter. In dialogue with her we reframed this and she understood that gardening and reading are fun for her. Fun is not necessary bungee jumping or a day at the lake. Funprint! Love it!
Thanks so much for sharing your 2017, word, Candess and I love that it is really aligned with the message in this post! I loved the idea of a ‘funprint’ too and thank Martha Beck for really clarifying how each of us has ‘fun’ in different ways that are unique to us! I always thought of fun as being something I was removed from, until I realized I have my own way of having fun…learning.
What an interesting story about the woman who gave up on writing when she couldn’t think of anything that was fun for her! I love how you shifted the conversation and were able to help her see that her ‘funprint’ was just unique to her and had less to do with what the outside world often see as fun. Appreciate you sharing all that you do here!
Oh so many FUN descriptive words , love it! You know what, learning makes me grin ear to ear and lights me up like a firecracker – I find if so FUN!
Thanks so much Teresa! Happy you enjoyed this post and the fun descriptive words in it! Learning seems to be a favourite way to have fun for so many of us! I find that both fascinating and FUN too!
What a …well… fun post! I love your observation about children: “Children are fascinating to observe. They live from a place of wonder and joy, finding pleasure and fun in even the smallest of moments. They appear to simply have fun just from being.” As adults we get so focussed on results (synchronistic echoes of my post this week, eh?) that we forget to just BE. No wonder you report that though we have more leisure time we are having less fun!
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So happy that specific line really caught your curiosity and interest, Reba! Yes, children certainly can show us the way when it comes to living from a place of joy, wonder and fun. Will we actually re-learn this from them? And yes, this post is very synchronistic with your post about just being, which is what we are meant to do as human be-ings. I also do find it fascinating that we now have more time, but as a species we are having less fun!
Ongoing research Beverly confirms the importance of play. When schools place academic learning over recess and play time, students eventually rebel. They will go off and play on their own when their older and it’s usually with escape mechanisms like drugs.
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Thanks for confirming that the ongoing research is showing that without play in their lives, children suffer. It impacts so many aspects of their lives, including what I feel is important, their imaginations. I find it interesting that without play kids actually rebel and it could even lead to behaviour issues, including taking drugs. Quite a shocking piece of info and one I hope more educators and parents take note of!
Great article, Bev! I love how you state that LEARNING is fun! I share the same approach. Fun to me is growing and developing, playing from the span of our imagination. Great thoughts, and I’ll be applying this to always reap the benefits of light heartedness <3 Makes sense that pessimism would be a side effect of not enough fun. There are those who say, "I'm bored," and us who can comfortably relax 😉
Happy to meet someone else who sees that learning is their idea of fun, Cathy! It seems there are a lot of us who view fun in this way. Like you, fun is growing and developing for me…always being creative and using my imagination too. It is interesting to see that too little fun, results in pessimism for me too, as it isn’t necessarily a correlation we would make. I’m still working on the ‘comfortably’ relaxing part of life, so I am happy to hear you are good with it in yours. 🙂
Love this, Beverley, especially the idea of a funprint. Mine would have to be all about writing and creating. I am lucky to have the Goddesses constantly showing me how to take having fun seriously.Now that I’m once again teaching art and crafts to kids I have another avenue for fun and I’m so grateful that my business revolves around this.
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Completely agree with you about the idea of a funprint, Tami! It truly shows how unique we all are and how it is important to honour what we enjoy and include that in our daily lives. So happy you are having both the Goddesses and also the children you are teaching as a reminder and an inspiration for making sure to include fun in your life too!
This was such a powerful and timely read. It’s so important to define fun for ourselves. I truly enjoyed this article and loved the breakdown of wisdom that each segment had to offer.
For me it was a divine read because it was the very thing that has been on my mind over the last few weeks because I was desiring to incorporate more fun into my experience.
Like you, I find learning new things to be at the top of my list. Hearing someone else express their passion for learning new things as fun confirmed for me that I’m in the right vibration and don’t have to shift to doing what others define as fun.
Thanks again for such a great share. Blessings and best wishes to you with your endeavors.
Thank you so much Alicia! I appreciate hearing that this piece came at a good time for you. I think many of us are considering how much fun we have in outlives and how we can bring a little bit more lightness and enjoyment in to our daily lives. Seems lots of us enjoy learning and that is our idea of fun. It makes me happy to hear, as for so long I thought I might be alone in that. Glad it was a confirmation for you too!
I got the biggest chuckle out of the title, Beverley! But I love this. And all so very true! Interestingly, psychologists and psychiatrists agree on a few things (LOL), and one of them is that kids truly need unstructured play–for the reasons you listed. And so do we, once we’re grown. Ahhh, I need some serious play today!
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Happy to hear you enjoyed the title of this piece, Susan! I personally know it really does apply to me. 🙂 Children really do need unstructured play in their lives, a chance to allow their imagination and creativity to flourish. We adults especially do need to remember how important serious play is for us too!
Wonderful article Beverley and great timing for me since it beautifully supports a project I’ve just completed – a new gift for my readers about cultivating happiness from the inside out and one section is on the importance of play in our adult lives. As you’ve shared, the research is fascinating and eye-opening. Thanks for the inspiration!
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You project sounds wonderful, Marquita and so needed in our “oh so serious” world filled with 24/7 distractions. Too many of us lead very serious lives and as you have also discovered and are sharing with others, adult play time is key to all aspects of our well-being. Look forward to your new offering!
LOOOooooove this post, Beverley, both the topic and your presentation!
Like many, I have to figure out my funprint! I too stumble when asked what I do for fun… I like to learn, to grow, to evolve… but can this inclination toward personal growth be considered a funprint? I doubt it… 🙂
I especially loved your references to the research about ‘fun effect’ on creativity and children development… “severely play-deprived children manifest multiple mental or behavioral disorders. On the flip side, the histories of successful, creative people show social play’s vital part in healthy development. It seems that emotional control, social competency, personal resiliency and curiosity accumulate through developmentally suitable play experiences.”
This is so true! Thank you for bringing this topic to our attention!
Thanks so much for your wonderful enthusiasm for this post, Millen. When researching this article, I was relieved to discover that because I enjoy learning and growing (like you), that is indeed my funprint. I think the word “fun” has become somewhat synonymous with that “wild and crazy” partying kind of fun and yet, whatever we individually enjoy…is fun for us. And the research is very fascinating indeed. I often look back and wonder if I had “fun” as a kid and yet as a daydreamer and creative, I have to believe whatever I enjoyed was contributing to my future “creative” development. It’s an interesting topic and I hope more parents of young children realize that including fun activities in their kids lives, is shaping their futures.
I love the idea of a unique fun-print. Sometimes I look at others and compare their sense of fun with mine and somehow feel inferior. For example, I don’t like the idea of climbing a mountain or doing adventurous outside activities. My idea of fun is writing, having lively conversations, learning new things, laughing at the absurdities of life. I am an indoor person. I can have fun with people or all by myself. I just need to remember not to take things too seriously, even fun!
You sound very similar to me, Molly and what you enjoy doing…is your funprint. I think having the ability to look at the world’s absurdities is why your writing has so much humour in it. Observational humour, like I believe I do at times too. It has people re-look at their own lives and question what they think and feel about a certain topic. I’m not much of an outdoors person either and love reading, learning and writing too. Sounds like we’d have some very lively conversations given the opportunity.
To be honest, I tend to be a more serious person. Though as I get older, I want to have more fun in my life. I do things now that I would never thought of when I was in my twenties. Thanks for sharing.
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I’m also a more serious person, Sabrina. Although I long to have “fun”, I realize that each of us has our own ways of having fun and it could be as easy as doing something you enjoy. Glad to hear you are finding new things to have fun doing and are daring to stretch out of your comfort zone as you are getting older.
I am the complete opposite Beverley. Maybe Because I was an only child for a while as I grew up. I absolutely have that cheeky side always ready for some “GOOD OLD Mischief” not the type to hurt others, but to bring a smile to their faces…well sometimes lol!
AS I get older, my kids say I am a lil less fun…literally that shocked me when I heard it, so i purposed to bring the lilun in me to play more often. Yes we can do it we should take fun more seriously…our health and longevity depends on it!
Thanks for sharing a little bit about your fun and mischievous side Julie! I think getting the reminder form your kids was a great way to look at how you were and bring a little bit of that childlike fun back into your life. It’s great to hear that you had a strong sense of cheekiness and hopefully you’re bringing that back into your life so your children can benefit from it too. Yes, taking fun seriously definitely is good for you health and keeps you young and vibrant!
I’m always looking at ways I can include more fun in my day, and life. Luckily I get to laugh a lot at myself and also with my family – all of us are trying our best and if someone is not in their best happy self, we try to dissolve the bad mood with a joke. Life’s too short not to have fun!
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My sense of you is that you are a person who loves including fun in your life, Delia. You and your husband sound like you have a very balancing effect on each other and your family, making life enjoyable regardless of the situation at hand. Congrats on being someone who laughs at life and teaches that to your children and spreads it to the people in your life too!
Hi Beverley, Love this article! My husband and I have been group facilitators for “Adult Challenge Workshops”, and it is amazing to watch the transformation in these adults who haven’t had “fun” in many years. By the end of the workshops it’s as if they were waiting for someone to give them permission to have fun in their lives again. And it literally brings them to tears. Fun is a very healing process.
So happy you enjoyed this article, Melanie. And sounds like you and your husband are having a lot of “fun”, facilitating others to find what fun is to them. So often as we grow into adulthood, we leave the wonder and play we experienced as children behind, thinking that life has to be serious as an adult. Fun is indeed a powerful elixir with great healing powers. Something the world could definitely use more of!
I had FUN reading this! It hits home in so many ways. Mostly, though, because I’m taking a master’s level nutrition coaching program and one of our units this summer was to ‘make it a game’. Experiences and habits stick so much better when we can make them fun, and tasks we dread become more enjoyable. It was an interesting challenge to gamify things in our lives and with our clients. The reminder from our coaches…life is meant to be fun and great breakthroughs happen when we are heaving fun. I’d not realized how serious I had become 🙂 put a whole different spin on working with others…oops I mean playing with others.
Amazing to hear how the idea of having fun was part of your nutrition coaching program, Debbie. What a positive and uplifting way to create lasting learning and to bond with others in your community. And I agree, fun is what prompts our creativity and I also believe this is where the big breakthroughs come from. Love that your big takeaway was to lighten up and play well with others too. So happy you had “fun” reading this post and that it brought back great memories of what sounds like a fabulous summer of learning and playing together.
I love this article and your take on the word and meaning of ‘fun’. Such a small, simple & odd word if you think about it, can mean so much. Fun for me is very diverse, from laughter & simply being with friends, to a LOUD rock concert of a fav band, to my yoga practice and more… Thanks for helping me to contemplate what is means to me and remembering to do more of it 🙂
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I think you really exemplify the diverse ways we all can have many ways we experience fun Jennifer. It is why I loved finding the idea of a “funprint” being what each of us does for enjoyment. There is no one size fits all when it comes to fun. What you find fun, I may not and vice versa. I love music and movies and reading and often come away from those things feeling like I had “fun”. Glad this offered some food for thought for you and it is always good to re-examine ourselves in a contemplative way. 😉
People know I put in long hours in what we call work. What they don’t realize is that much of what I do is fun. Creativity delights me. Just recently someone asked me what I do for fun & I named a few monthly activities I do and she said, you manage to have more fun than I who am retired without a business. Fun is different from person to person. A friend made me dinner tonight & sent me home with 5 containers of homemade soup. That’s love & fun.
My sense of you Roslyn, is that you find life fun and that is experienced in many ways for you. I love creating too, it fuels me, just as I hear it fuels you too! It is lovely that you have such wonderful friends to spend time with and to give and receive love to and from. And I absolutely agree that “fun” is definitely different and expresses itself uniquely in each person. Enjoy your homemade soup! Sounds like you really enjoyed it and are happy to have more to take home with you!
Thanks for writing about the serious side of fun. Just lately “have fun”has become my new motto.I repeat it to myself every morning as I read and contemplate my day. I have neglected fun for more years than I can count.
As I moved to middle-age and on my way to beyond, I keep finding more similarities between this time of life and childhood, all to the good.
Love hearing that you have adopted the motto “have fun” into your life, Jane, as I also believe so often we neglect that side of ourselves as we get older. We forget how important it is to our overall health and creativity. And I love your analogy between childhood and middle-age, as I can’t help but believe it is meant to be that way. Especially having a biography coaching background, it truly makes perfect sense.
I am a huge believer in play and having fun. Do I do it enough? No, I do not. I read for enjoyment and that’s about the limit of my “fun” these days. What I need to do is take time and get off the island to refresh my brain and my spirit. Because I do know I get some of my best ideas when I’m focusing on doing other things. Good stuff!
One thing that shines through from you is your sense of humour, Jackie. And I can only imagine the fun and enjoyment you continually receive from your two cat men. My sense is we adults often forget about the importance of having fun in our lives, as like you said, injecting some fun back into life, opens up our creativity and leads to new ideas. We all need some time “off the island” to refresh and regenerate our minds and our souls. Thanks for sharing your perspective!
Lately I have been playing with our 4 month old puppy. Definitely kid’s play when you are laughing at his antics and running around. Thanks.
Animals truly offer such a joyful experience and I have the same experience with my daughter’s two cats and her dog. They are incredibly entertaining and offer us a reminder to lighten up and enjoy our lives!
Interesting and informative post, Beverley. Speaking from experience, I remember that during my corporate world days, the leadership training that had elements of fun and play were the ones where I retained and applied the skills that were being taught. Later, when I had to train qualified CPAs in new accounting standards, I emulated the concepts with a bit of fun (like a bowl full of sweets being given out for correct answers) and quizzes that incorporated play to get the core concepts across. By making a boring topic an interesting learning experience, the participants and I both benefited.
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Amazing to hear that not only was the leadership training you did incorporating fun, but that you played it forward to actually incorporated it into your training with others. I imagine that having an injection of fun and play into what you are learning (especially when it is boring) helps you both enjoy the learning and would lead to more retention of the materials, which benefits everyone involved. Thanks for sharing your own experiences with fun and play in your own life, Vatsala.
Wow, Beverley, I’m glad you did this research so I don’t have to! Yes, I want more fun if it will relieve stress, improves brain function, stimulate the mind and contributes to our creativity, improve relationships and our connection to others and keep us feeling young and energetic! Love the funprint idea. My idea of fun is reading, laughing and just spending time with my husband, seeing friends maybe once a week and working on the business I love.
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So happy to hear that the information I uncovered really resonates with you Beth. I often wonder if we adults believe fun and play are reserved for children. Knowing how important it is to our own health and wellbeing, makes it more important than ever that we are conscious of keeping our lives fun! I really like the funprint idea too, as it explains how we all have our own uniqueness. Sounds like you have a very well rounded funprint and it includes all areas of your life!