“Practice having fun until fun becomes fun.” – Melody Beattie
For some reason, I had been struggling with what to write on the topic of fun. Perhaps it’s because I often struggle with letting go and having fun in my own life. So this post will be as much for me as it will be for those who read it. For awhile, I couldn’t figure out what angle to take with the “fun” topic. That is until my Higher Power led me to the Melody Beattie affirmation above:
Practice having fun until it becomes fun.
I realize that having fun (just like with joy and happiness) means different things to different people. Our interests differ as much as our personalities differ. What’s “fun” to me may seem strange to you. But the important thing is that we identify our interests and hobbies and that we define what fun means to us. Once we identify “our fun,” it is then important to put it into practice.
In 12 step recovery, the 4th step tells us to “make a fearless and moral inventory of ourselves.” In summary, it is a written exercise that tells the story of our lives based upon the challenge we face. I think that for those of us that are “fun challenged,” this may be a good idea to put into practice specifically for the topic of fun. Let’s all take a “fun inventory.” It may be helpful to write down the things you enjoy doing, things you have enjoyed in the past, things you feel shame about having fun doing, and things you want to do for fun in the future. Once you complete your fun inventory, don’t be afraid to share it with others.
I think doing something like this and sharing it with others will accomplish two things. First, it lets people know more about your interests. And second, if a person knows your interests, this may uncover a connection and encourage another to take part in your fun as well.
I have slowly been transitioning into sharing the things that I find fun with others. In my early adult life, I spent much of my time doing “fun things” alone because I thought (or assumed) the fun things I liked were bizarre and weird to others. Specifically others in my peer and cultural group.
But of course we all know what happens when we assume.
Last year around this time, I wanted to go see the Disney Nature movie, African Cats. I had saw its predecessor, Oceans in the theater by myself. I took a chance and asked a friend of mine if she wanted to come with me and bring along her two kids. She said yes. We had a lovely time.
I’m a fan of all kinds of music. I specifically love rock, and am a fan of several rock bands. A few years ago, there was one of my favorite rock groups coming into town. I figured no one would want to go with me. A black girl going to a rock concert? I took a chance and asked a friend of mine to go (she is also black). She said yes. Ever since then, we try and go to at least one rock concert a year. And we never coward down even though we’re normally the only “brown people” in the crowd.
I happened to see that the musical Cats was coming to Chicago last month. I had always wanted to see it. I know that you have to be a special kind of person to sit through a musical. I had planned to go by myself. But before I bought the ticket, I decided to put it out there to others that I was going, and would anyone like to go with me? I didn’t expect to get a response. But I did. One of my recovery friends said she would love to go. We went and had an amazing time.
These are my own personal examples of “fun and connection.” This may not seem difficult to those who are naturally social, are extroverts, or who often “fit in” to social norms. But for those of us that are loners and have spent a lot of time in emotional isolation, this kind of connection is huge.
So now that we have inventoried our fun things and shared them with others, it’s time to put it all in to practice.
But why should I have to practice having fun? Shouldn’t that come naturally? Shouldn’t I automatically want to have fun?
Have you ever been in the midst of a “fun” activity where your mind is so full of anxiety that your focus is only on your problems?
Do you feel guilt when you’re having fun?
When you go on vacation, do you bring your work with you, either mentally or physically?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, my personal opinion is that you are fun challenged. You need to practice having fun.
When our lives have been mostly serious…
When a chunk of our life has been about addiction, recovery, and emotional or physical pain…
When we become workaholics or compulsive debtors, and all we do is work to feel self worth or make enough money to cover our debts, or debt to feel important…
When all we know how to do is take care of others, as opposed to ourselves…
When we have gone through many of the things I have listed above and more…we don’t always know how to have fun. So we need practice.
Practice makes perfect. This is just a saying, and considering I don’t believe in perfectionism, let’s revise…
Practice makes “better.”
Practicing having fun makes us much better at it.
Having fun and connecting with others at the same time is an essential part of living a joyful life.
A side note. It takes courage to reach out and share your interests with others. It takes super-courage to ask others to share in those interests with you. Sometimes people will say no….for whatever reason. They’re busy, not interested, or there’s a better offer. Whatever.
I’m not going to tell you not to take it personally because that is advice that I can hardly take myself. But I will say, if someone turns you down to share in your fun…do it anyway, even if you have to do it alone.
After all, having fun by yourself is better than having no fun at all…
It’s good practice.