Fun is Infectious

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When did we stop having fun? It’s a serious question that is worrying psychiatrists, psychologists, and philosophers. We talk about having fun, but it seems more elusive than ever.

Writer and philosopher Lori Deschene wrote an article entitled “How to Have More Fun in Life: Keep Your Thoughts from Pulling You Down,” she observed:

“It’s hard to be fully present and have fun when a part of you is getting lost in a mental maze. Doing something you enjoy while judging, analyzing, worrying, fearing, or regretting in your head is like experiencing the world from inside a plastic bubble. You can see and hear everything, but it’s all diluted.”


Relax and Enjoy

Lori is right on the money, of course. Many of us have not only lost our sense of humor but our understanding of fun as well. Our society is so quick to over-analyze every joke, every faux-pas, every slip and fall that we are all bound up in plastic bubbles.

Of course, the plastic bubbles aren’t literal. They are often constructed of social media, selfie-taking, over-scheduling, and judgment of others and ourselves.

Just today, I was made aware of a story about the new pastime of Instagram vacation videos where vacationers spend so many hours posing, shooting, editing, and producing vacation “episodes,” that they have not taken the time to relax and enjoy what is around them. They come back from their vacations more stressed than before they left.

We also try to meet the expectations of Facebook, our co-workers, our friends, and, most importantly, ourselves. Instead of having fun, we spend too much time judging, analyzing, and trying to impress people.

Not only do we inadvertently limit our fun, but also psychologists and educators note we are limiting the opportunities for our children to enjoy their young lives. Somewhere along the line, our society went from allowing children to play and have fun, to having supervised playgroups, where stressed-out over-scheduled adults over-schedule their children to “have fun,” and insert themselves in the process as well.


Teach Fun By Not Teaching It

The way out of the mental maze that Lori Deschene described is to allow ourselves the luxury of relaxation and fun without judgment. Ultimately, the key to having fun is to no longer think about having fun.

I have no idea how much work it requires to make an Instagram vacation video, but I do know that time is precious. Time is a commodity that we should not waste.

The time we might take to pose, re-position and “produce” a video of our families having fun, by extension, takes away from the spontaneity of fun. How very sad.

We cannot choose too many masters. We cannot wish to have fun and relax at the same time we are worrying about meeting the expectations and judgment we have of ourselves and others.

It is one reason I try to distance myself from melancholy people, especially when we are “coerced” either through guilt or a self-imposed verdict to accommodate someone. In doing so, our fun is channeled into caring for others who refuse to enjoy life. I speak, unfortunately, from personal experience.

Similarly, if we are pre-occupied with carrying the expectations of our Facebook friends with us on vacation, we cease to have fun and comfort within ourselves. There is no obligation to be their tour guide!

Fun is vital to life. Whether your idea of fun is singing karaoke, playing golf, or collecting swizzle sticks, do it. Do it without judgment, and do it whenever you have the moments. Your fun is for your happiness alone. Teach fun to your children by not teaching it.

If children learn to have fun by observing you having fun, so much the better, and let no one mock their sense of play or wonder. Ultimately, they should look back on their childhoods by their fun times and laughter and not their tears.

Just as measles, poison ivy, colds, and flu are unavoidable and contagious, fun is infectious.



For more information about Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author Steve Gilliland and the Gilliland Foundation, please contact steve@stevegilliland.com / 724-540-5019 / www.stevegilliland.com.