I’m very blessed that relatively speaking I have a fair amount of energy. I’m no longer at the stage where I need to invest all of my energy in self-care just to get by. And yet I rarely spend my energy on having FUN!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no stranger to happiness and joy. It’s just I learned that when you have to be careful with energy, joy can be found in passive, appreciative ways which I’ve strongly relied on for my happiness and contentment. I take pleasure in the little things, I appreciate and show gratitude, I observe, I feel and connect to the present moment. All that works, it feels good, but it really isn’t the same as having fun! Even watching comedy and laughing regularly isn’t the same as having fun; well not on my own it isn’t, it’s too observational. It can become a little more like fun when it is shared with someone with a real-time sense of connection.
I’ve had energy to invest in other things than self-care for quite a while now and yet fun has never been much of a priority. The first obstacle has been my perception that fun has to be a high-energy activity; that it’s high risk for going beyond my energy envelope. It’s high risk for getting carried away and not listening to what my body needs. Of course, that risk is higher the more you deprive yourself of fun, because the need to indulge becomes more compelling; it can become a vicious cycle of risk.
Another complication for me is that whilst joy is something I can experience alone, fun for me, generally equates with connection and shared experience. Having fun without going beyond my limits when other people are concerned means communicating and enforcing my boundaries. I’m actually pretty good at that, but even so, it sometimes just seems like a lot of hard work. I have to control everything, time everything, pace everything. I can’t allow myself to get carried away with spontaneity. I have to work at getting other people to cooperate with my needs.
But what has really got in the way of me letting myself have fun is that old value of work before play. Aiming to support myself whilst working from home in my own business demands a lot of time any energy. If I’m not working on it, I’m not increasing my chances of it working for me! So much of my disposable energy goes into trying to make my business a success, I just don’t keep enough of it for having fun! This is also complicated by the fact that I love what I do. I get huge satisfaction out of coaching, running workshops and working with groups. It’s actually easier for me to know that my energy is going to be rewarded with satisfaction through my work, than it is if I try to have fun!
But this week I took a risk on fun; I went out to a party and had a bop. It was pretty high risk because I was relying on someone else to drive me (I didn’t have control over when I would come home). Although they didn’t want a late night and promised we wouldn’t stay too long, my experience is that if you have no negative consequences for staying longer, you probably will. But I decided I would live with that, I decided that I would accept however long we stayed and just deal with the consequences. Part of that decision was based on the fact that I know I am more resilient now. If I do too much (once) I know I can get over it with a couple of quite restful days. I chose to go out and have some fun and then deal with a couple of less productive quiet days afterwards. I chose not to worry too much about it. This is the great advantage of having improved so much over the last 18 months or so! And it really was a lot of fun!
I don’t know whether it was because I had so recently let myself have fun, but this week I suddenly discovered that fun doesn’t have to be that hard. I even discovered that I could have fun on my own, I just had to give myself time off feeling serious and responsible and choose to be light-hearted and playful.
I’ve started to juggle again. After nearly 20 years of hardly touching my juggling balls, I drop them very regularly, but that is all part of the fun! Even on tired days, it’s easy to just pick them up and play for just 30 seconds to 2 minutes here and there. They are a great way to take a fun little break from the computer!
I’ve also been thinking about other ways to have fun. Dancing is my all-time favourite way, but it is still a very high risk activity that requires pre-emptive rest and planning for the payback. But I used to enjoy playing games too, so I think I might have to find a backgammon partner, or organise a games night.
How do you have Fun? Does fun have a different flavour from joy for you? Can you be playful in your attitude even if you don’t’ have the energy to physically play? Do you allow yourself to spend your energy on fun?
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