In a 4-way conversation, one of my creative friends in Belgium, boldly exclaimed, “It is our responsibility to make life fun. In fact, it’s our duty!”
All four of us in the room sat quietly for a couple of minutes just pondering that statement. I have NEVER heard that before—that having fun in life is a duty. Oh we talk about having a life of meaning and purpose, of service and giving, of nurturing replenishing relationships, of getting in touch with our inner divine power, but not making fun a responsibility.
Our Failure to Focus on Fun
As we enter our adult years we seem to take life so much more seriously than we need to. Is it time for all of us to “lighten up” and simply enjoy ourselves? I recently read two books on “happiness” and I don’t think either one mentioned fun. They talked like the paragraph above—like happiness somehow was equated with meaning and purpose and service and “staying out of bad moods.”
But think about it. What if you focused on having fun as you pursue your life of meaning and service?
I can think of two poignant illustrations. One is our fondness for making the attitude of children a goal for adults. The goal is to rediscover the child within and re-learn childlike innocence. What if we also mimicked their proclivity for simply enjoying themselves so much of the time, i.e. making up games, playing make-believe, laughing about almost anything—simply have fun?
What is the greatest complaint of a child? “That’s no fun,” as if fun is the ONLY thing that matters.
The second illustration is SO common. Ask any single woman what is the most important character trait of a man she might be willing to date and I’d bet 90% of women will list “sense of humor” in the top three.
My Life Transition—A Focus on Fun
I recently came to realize that I am in yet another “transition phase of my life.” These are times I take seriously because they are a critical mixture of life throwing new opportunities my direction and me sort of strategically establishing a very loose plan of what comes next.
I was inspired thinking that it is my duty to make life fun. If I don’t take that responsibility seriously, then who will? Certainly there are people who contribute to the fun and meaning in my life. But I can’t depend on that. It’s up to me to initiate it.
As I was discussing some issues with my shrink the other day this subject of transition and fun came up. Ihab (my shrink) suggested, “Charlie, why don’t you assume the same attitude every day that you do when you travel to other countries where your goals are to experience life, learn and enjoy yourself? In other words, to have fun.”
Make It Your Duty
What about you? I’ll be that you are no different from me. You view life as a chore, a drag, or an opportunity for growth. But do you view it as fun? If you do, you are one of the few.
I believe you should “make it your duty to have fun!” I think we all should. But how?
First, think about what you really, really like to do: activities, people, hobbies, playing sports, coaching sports, travel and, yes, even work. I have almost always looked at work as a means for having fun—a place where I can employ my creativity to help a business be more successful.
Second, write down a list of really, really fun things you can do at least one time per week. Then make a list of something you can do every day—like the fun that comes from encouraging someone. And then, list a very big fun thing for at least one time per year. For me it is traveling.
Third, prioritize that list.
Finally, and most important… PUT FUN THINGS ON YOUR CALENDAR. Things just don’t seem to get done unless we schedule them. For instance, Pam and I schedule our vacations in December for the following year. We schedule times and potential places to go.
Like I always say, life is short. Do as much as you can “on purpose.” You have a choice of taking control over your life, or allowing it to take control of you.
Make it Your Duty to Have Fun!
Photo courtesy of Petar Chernaev