I sat was sitting on the floor building a tower out of coloured plastic blocks. My one year old grandson kept picking up my carefully constructed towers, breaking them apart and throwing them on the floor again. Every time the blocks bounced against the floor boards he erupted into a fit of giggles. Apparently it was hysterical. Our whole afternoon had been like this. We had built things, chased each other on the floor, cuddled, sung at the tops of our voices, read books and made plenty of mess. In between we stopped to investigate the contents of the fridge for something to eat or take a breather for a bottle of milk.
There was no reporting, no stress, no goal to achieve by 5 pm. Just Cruz and I hanging out together. Just the two of us rolling around on the floor giggling.
I have to say it felt a bit weird at first. Like I was trying on someone else’s jacket.
It wasn’t that my six ‘to do lists’ had vanished. I had just given myself permission to step off the roller coaster for a day. And once I stopped thinking about all of my life goals and tasks, and stopped feeling guilty that I wasn’t diligently ticking them all off, I surrendered to the bliss. I sank into the present and I started to have fun.
Hmmm fun. Remember that?
We often talk about a rage of key factors that support a healthy lifestyle and positive mental health. Things like having our basic needs met; a home, good fresh food, exercise, education, access to medical care and some form of work where we can contribute are the foundations of a healthy lifestyle and a healthy human being.
We know we need to feel safe and connected. Having a sense of belonging to our families, friends and our community helps us to feel that we matter, that we have a purpose in life and a tribe that we not only care about but we belong to. When we give something back to our world, beyond our normal daily work, it boosts our own mental health and our connection and sense of belonging to the world we belong to expands.
I often talk about how acts of kindness have a way of benefiting you as the giver way more than the person or people on the receiving end. These things help us to stay positive, to seek the goodness in the world and to connect with like minded people in our community.
However one of the things that seems to be missing in the equation is having fun. It’s as if we have forgotten to enjoy ourselves. We are so busy ticking of the to do list or the bucket list or chasing our dreams that we have forgotten to stop and have fun. If we’re not having fun, what exactly are we living for?
Frankly it’s exhausting. I don’t know about you, but it seems like even though I am making my dreams happen, achieving a lot and ticking plenty of those boxes I’m often tired and grumpy…and oddly a little sad. There is something not quite right when you are looking forward to the weekend or a day off just so you can sleep. How un-sexy is that? Woohoo! A few extra hours in bed not being woken up by the alarm clock.
So, as I lay in the pirate tent with Cruz, snuggling with the pirate bunnies and teddies and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with our hands in the air, I realised that I could learn a few important things from my little grandson.
- Laugh. Loudly. And Often. Laugh as much as you can. Every single day. If you get to the end of the day and you haven’t had a good giggle, then make time to watch your favourite comedy or Youtube your favourite comedian. A day without laughter is pretty much a day wasted.
- Be curious and explore. You don’t need to have everything sorted. You don’t need to know everything or have an opinion on everything either. Ask questions. Read. Talk with other people. In fact it’s much more fun when you haven’t got all the ducks lined up and you’re slightly out of control.
- Step off the roller coaster (and the guilt) and breathe. Hang out in your garden…for hours. Step away from the housework, or the office. Lay on the floor and read all day. Hang out with people that make you giggle as often as possible. Go out with your girlfriends and do a cafe crawl (similar to a pub crawl but with coffee and cake!) and talk.
- Watch how kids find the fun. Ever noticed how children instinctively seem to find the fun in almost everything they do? When the milk gets spilt all over the floor, it’s hysterical. When they fall over, they laugh. When it starts pouring with rain, they jump in the puddles instead of getting grumpy. When something supposedly goes wrong, or isn’t quite right try breathing and laughing instead of imploding.
- Celebrate. Rock on. Party. Find reasons to celebrate with cupcakes. PUMP the music up and dance…yep even in your office. Sing loudly and often in your car. Party with your friends at least once a week. Party in your own way. Go out to that burlesque show, hit that Latin night club, find a cool and quirky cocktail bar, have a BBQ in your back yard, or organise a onesie sleepover with movies and pop corn at your place. However you party or celebrate make it happen! Enjoy your achievements. Enjoy having friends. Enjoy being here, right now.
- Surround yourself with the ‘fun’ people. If you are struggling to wake up your funny bone, hunt down the people that always seem to be having the best time and enjoying their lives. Make them your mentors, or your role models. Watch what they do throughout the day and how they turn challenges into bliss.
- Finally, give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to enjoy your life. Remember that life is pretty awesome when you are having fun.
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans…” Beautiful Boy, John Lennon