“What do you consider fun?” I posed this question to a client recently in a coaching appointment and she had trouble answering. For most of us, as adults, fun is an elusive concept, and it is often easier for us to put a finger on what is not fun than what is.
I borrowed the question “What do you consider fun?” from a line in the song “Genius of Love” by the Tom Tom Club. The song was popular many years ago and has recently resurfaced in Target commercials. Back when the song was popular and played on the radio, fun was simple for most of us. We were young. We knew what fun was and what it looked like to have fun.
It was fun to ride your bike downhill without braking. You could feel the speed and the wind in your hair. That was fun! It was fun to go to a friend’s birthday party, eat cake and ice cream and play games. It was fun to play with a favorite toy. Fun almost always involved smiles, laughter and feelings of outright glee. Sometimes it even showed itself through screams or squeals of delight.
Now that we are grown ups, fun is more difficult to define. Can work be fun? Is it possible to have fun without laughing or even smiling? As children, fun was outward focused and typically depended upon circumstances beyond our control.
As adults, fun is often a by-product of something deeper. We can find that we are having fun while achieving a goal, engaging in fulfilling work or honoring a deeply held value. Nowadays most of the fun we have comes without squeals of joy.
Since it is often difficult for us as adults to know when we are having fun, I want to issue a challenge to you to begin to consciously look at this concept. How do you define fun? How do you know something is fun?
Begin by reflecting on what you do that absorbs you so much that you don’t notice the passage of time. Chances are you are having fun in those moments. Also notice what brings you contentment and joy. Start to keep a log of joyful moments. A pattern may emerge that points you in the direction of activities where fun can be found.
Also, notice your own reactions. When you are having fun, are you feeling relaxed or intense? Note the times when you finish something or leave somewhere and say out loud, “I am glad I did that.” Consider the circumstances of those activities. What are you doing? Are you with other people or alone? What was enjoyable about those moments?
There are many factors that influence fun and adult fun has many faces.
Since it is no longer the simple equation it was when we were kids, if we want to amp up our enjoyment of life, it is important that we examine the question “What do you consider fun?”