Finding your fun again: bringing back joy, amusement and light-hearted pleasure
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Sector.
As an adult, I have rediscovered consistent fun – the everyday kind of fun, the fun that happens in little moments all around me. I’m not sure when I lost the ability to see and find regular fun each day, but I have some ideas about why I might have lost it.
Maybe I lost my fun when I started to work full time and navigate the world of adulthood, or maybe it happened when I became a mother and I had “more important things to do” such as adhere to childcare routines and clean a house. Everything just got busy.
I re-found my sense of fun after doing a three-day children’s yoga training a few years ago. The playfulness, creativity, spontaneity and social connectedness of this training really brought out my childlike qualities. Whenever I talk about these three days, I always say it was the most fun three days I’ve ever had! This sense has stayed with me, nearly six years on, and I try to channel some kind of fun everyday.
As adults, some of us lose the ability to have this consistent fun. There are bills to pay and life things to do! In the early childhood education and care (ECEC) context, there are forms to fill out, observations to take, meal times to supervise, programs to develop, and so on.
So having fun regularly slips away for some of us, getting lost in routines and ‘musts’.
Instead, we wait until we are away from work, or at a party or catching up with friends to experience this fun again.
Take a moment to think about how often you experience fun in your workplace and home environment and what does this fun look like to you?
Do you experience fun in moments or in bigger time slots, such as when you go out with your friends?
Having fun is different to experiencing happiness. The Oxford definition for fun uses the words: enjoyment, amusement and light-hearted pleasure. Merriam-Webster defines happiness as “a state of wellbeing and contentment: Joy”. By having fun, we can experience happiness.
What if you were able to find your sense of fun again? What if this feeling of fun loosened you up and gave you the opportunity to experience moment-to-moment elements of your life differently? What if this fun was able to bring forth a degree of happiness to you?
To understand how to find fun again, let’s go back to the words used by the Oxford dictionary: enjoyment, amusement and light-hearted pleasure.
Finding joy in the everyday assists with our feeling of enjoyment. When we begin to look at the small moments, when we are truly present in that moment, when nothing else matters, we are able to see detail. Find joy in this detail, such as the way a child reaches out for us or snuggles in close, the beauty of a rainbow, a falling leaf, the sound of a bird call or a smile from a stranger.
Using your five senses can assist you in becoming immersed in these moments, exploring the wonder of what is right in front of you.
Tune into the smell of gum trees after rain and appreciate this natural occurrence, listen to babies babbling to each other and marvel at human connection, taste the amazing sweetness of a banana and be grateful to nature for providing this delicacy. Learn to associate every day tasks or observances with joy. If we can relate to joyfulness, enjoyment will ensue.
The second word from the Oxford dictionary that I’d like to explore, is ‘amusement’. This is the experience of finding something funny. To find something funny means you need to be open to expressing yourself. To be amused means you need to let down your guard and tap into your sense of fun.
Does a baby’s giggle amuse you? Maybe a young child saying something inappropriate or a story somebody has told you makes you laugh? Is there a possibility that you could be funny yourself and make others laugh? I like to think that I entertain people because I enjoy seeing people happy.
Our final words to define fun are ‘light hearted’. A light-hearted person is someone who is upbeat, happy, carefree. Can you resonate with these words or do they seem really foreign to you?
Being curious about the way you see yourself is a wonderful starting point in relating more to the context of being fun. Ask people who know you if they think you are cheerful, optimistic, easygoing. Even the more serious personalities can inhabit some of these light hearted qualities.
Find moments where you can let go, such as dancing to a favourite song, playing dress ups with the children or dramatising a story book. Small steps to fun may be much easier and more comfortable for you. In these moments, we are not trying to be funny like a comedian, but rather seeking to find comfort in the ability to have fun and discover what resonates with your sense of letting go.
When we combine these words – enjoyment, amusement and light heartedness – it can culminate in fun! Having fun means we are releasing endorphins into our bloodstream that can heighten our moods positively. The more we experience fun, the more our physiological body responds and this is said to increase our life expectancy.
Breaking the definition of fun down into smaller segments enables us to understand what fun can mean to us personally. Every individual will relate to the elements of fun differently. What is fun for one person may not be for another. Fun should not harm anyone else’s wellbeing. Fun can be had alone or with other people around you. The more you involve yourself in fun, the easier it will become and the more natural you will feel.
When you are having fun though, there is a sense of freedom that envelops you. No cares, no worries, just pure moment to moment spontaneity. Not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow, just being in the now.
I practice this when facilitating my Yoga Play programs for ECEC services. I’m totally in the moment, I smile, laugh, make funny noises, dance around and really make the most of my opportunity to play. Where else can I truly connect to my inner child than when I’m with children?
For all the readers who are fortunate enough to be working alongside children, you have a ready-made platform to practice being fun. There are so many opportunities in ECEC that allows us to be fun and experience fun. Tune into the moments, take a breath and let yourself go. Find wonder, curiosity and a willingness to release your inner child.
Mindful fun can be even better! Knowing that you are experiencing fun is a wonderful way to recognise what fun looks like and have an understanding of what is a natural and comfortable fun state for you.
Just imagine a world where we could evenly balance the seriousness of life with impromptu daily fun. I think the world would be a much happier place.
You have nothing to lose but so much to gain; happiness, joy, enjoyment, freedom and the ability to make yourself and others smile.
Nic is the host of a fun Facebook group for early childhood educators and parents who would like to know more about using yoga and mindfulness on a daily basis with children. If you would like to experience more fun, join The Peace Warriors.