Are You Having Fun?

woman having fun
Image by xxolaxx from Pixabay

Summer is approaching, the season of sun, vacations, and… fun! Are you having fun? Do you have plans to have fun? This past Tuesday, at the monthly meeting of Minimal Quest, we talked about how moving toward a more minimalistic lifestyle might actually enhance our ability to enjoy ourselves.

I’m happy to say we all agreed that having fun is important. After all, if we aren’t having any fun in life, we are missing out on the joy that brings purpose to all of our work and effort. Not surprisingly, we all had various definitions of what constitutes fun. Some ideas included:

  • Enjoying the outdoors (hiking, biking, walking, picnicking)
  • Water fun (skiing, swimming, boating, stand up paddle, floating)
  • Reading
  • Relaxing on the beach
  • Traveling
  • Dining out
  • Attending and participating in sporting events
  • Painting, crafting, knitting
  • Gardening
  • Attending outdoor festivals, amusement parks, parades

Perhaps humorously, the professional organizers on the call (myself included) shared that we find decluttering, sorting, and getting organized to be fun.

While we might not all agree on what specific activities are truly fun, we did agree that certain conditions make all activities more pleasurable, and this is where minimalism comes in.

The working definition for minimalism that we use in our group comes from Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist.

“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things that matter and the removal of everything that distracts us from them.”

~ Joshua Becker

Even if you are not a minimalist, the idea of identifying priorities and aligning your time, space, and belongings around them, can be a great way to enhance your fun. During our session, we talked about five ways that minimalism helps us have more fun.

#1 Reduced Rushing Around

Almost all activities are more pleasurable when we do not have to rush through them. The corollary is also true: being pressed for time steals joy from whatever we are doing. It also tends to make us less patient, less observant, and less able appreciate the moment. What a shame it is to work hard to plan a fun activity, and then spend the entire experience feeling harried or anxious.

#2 Easily Accessible Supplies

We have more fun when are able to access desired supplies with minimal hassle. If we have to spend a lot of time searching, lugging, extracting, or otherwise struggling to find and reach the required items, we don’t enjoy the activity as much. In fact, the very anticipation of an unpleasant process might deter us from pursuing endeavors we might otherwise like.

In other words, fun is commonly associated with at least some measure of ease.

#3 Alleviation of Cognitive Overload

Modern life seems to keep our brains busy (and hence, burdened) throughout our waking hours. We are regularly being bombarded by breaking news stories, urgent demands, climate concerns, financial upheaval, health threats, and/or worrisome situations that we feel obligated to notice, ponder, and potentially address.

Unfortunately, our brains don’t flourish on the 24/7 news cycle. Nevertheless, this is the environment in which most of us are operating.

To have fun, most of us need to take a break from these perpetual notifications. Oddly enough, silencing this nonstop broadcast (i.e., turning off our devices), may feel challenging as our brains have been conditioned to this level of stimulation. Ultimately, however, unplugging gives our brains the rest they desperately need, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in whatever fun activity we choose to pursue.

#4 Permission to “Unitask”

Seems like much of daily living requires that we juggle multiple things at once. In my life, this might look like driving while catching up on a podcast or toggling between online tasks. I know many parents complete most of their activities while simultaneously caring for children. Whatever your situation, you may feel pressure to be “making the most of every minute.”

While productivity is well and good, we tend to have more fun when we can relax and give our full attention to one thing, and one thing only. When we can be mindfully focused on the fun activity that is taking place, we maximize the joy it brings.

#5 Relief from Being “On Call”

In the days of cell phones and smartwatches (aka handheld computers), most of us are living life “on call.” Because we keep our mobile devices close at hand, we are theoretically available at all times. Employers, children, childcare providers, friends, and family all expect to be able to contact us at any moment, and furthermore expect a quick response. It can be hard to have fun when the specter of being needed is hanging overhead.

There is a reason why doctors take turns being “on call.” It’s exhausting and disruptive. If we want to immerse ourselves in a fun experience, it is worth the effort to let others know that we won’t be reachable for the duration of the event. I know this may not be realistic for caregivers, but it can be at least a goal to minimize potential interruptions.

*     *     *

The principles of minimalism can help us focus on what matters most with our time, space and belongings. Do you think removing distractions might help you have more fun?

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24 thoughts on “Are You Having Fun?”

  1. I LOVE this post for so many reasons. Firstly, what’s not to love about thinking about, planning, and actually having fun. Summer and all seasons provide ample opportunity for adding fun into your days. Especially during the summer, I love all things water-related- swimming, floating, kayaking, beaching (as in lying on or walking along the beach,) and more.

    The other part of this I appreciate are how the minimalist philosophy can increase the fun and joy in every day life by taking things down a notch- less stuff, less busyness, less being ‘on’ 24/7. Joshua Becker’s definition of minimalism is wonderful.

    1. Here’s to a summer filled with fun moments. AND, here is to a summer where we can be fully present and mindful of the fun we are lucky enough to behaving!

  2. Seana, this is such a powerful post. Being present in the moment allows us to participate and be open to the fun. I believe you can’t take in or appreciate the now when you are focused on the what is coming next. I really like the way you presented these thoughts. These are tenants to remember.

    1. I have a tendency to be very “future aware.” I agree that this can interfere with the joy of the moment, and I’m trying to remind myself of this truth!!

  3. Bear with me on this story to illustrate your #1 point. I am working on a political campaign right now. I had a list of about 80 people (strangers) to call. I was nervous and was talking *really* fast on the first several calls. They did not go well. My intention was to reduce the bother of the phone call by getting through it as quickly as possible. My impact was confusion and disingenuity (is that a word?).

    So, I took a breath and made the next call. I spoke (what felt like) ag-o-ni-zing-ly slooowly. I ended up having lovely, lovely conversations with many people.

    A wise person once advised me to “Slow down to speed up.” So true.
    Melissa Gratias recently posted…Trello: A Great Way to Manage Ideas, Tasks, Projects, and MoreMy Profile

    1. I love this example, Melissa! We all feel that time pressure. In your example, it was sort of self-inflicted so you could “get it over with.” Yet isn’t it interesting that when you slowed down, and were fully present, you got the best result? We seem to equate fast and good, but I find often they are in conflict.

    1. I tend to rush more when it is “personal time” than I do with “client time.” I think that is interesting. When I am with clients, I move at their pace, and I am very at peace with however quickly we are moving. I need to go at MY pace sometimes, and be willing to slow down when it serves me to do so!

  4. I love Joshua Becker’s explanation! That is so perfect. I feel like it’s the third “weird” summer of maybe many. The first one we did really nothing and I was very pregnant. Last summer we did some light camp and light travel, and then I was pregnant again.
    This year we’re planning more travel but less camp, and lots of hammock time, I hope.
    Tamara recently posted…How To Buy The Perfect Pair Of Shorts For Your Tween GirlMy Profile

    1. I think this summer you deserve a bit of pampering after two pregnancies 🙂 I love this definition of Minimalism as well. It helps codify what it is truly about – being aware of our priorities and maximizing the space we give them in our lives.

  5. Wow! This is a topic I talk about with my walking partner all the time. We must give ourselves permission to take time for fun. Each of your ideas resonates with me so that we can be in the moment of having fun. Thank you for these reminders!

  6. Oh, that ‘cognitive overload!’ It’s challenging to fully engage in fun when your brain is about to explode from taking in too much information. There are times when I just need to close the laptop and tuck my phone away in order to give my whirling brain a rest and go have some fun!

    1. I’m trying to be intentional about doing things without my phone recently. I have come to realize that my brain needs less stimulation. The constant digital onslaught is training my brain to expect constant distraction, but I know this isn’t what helps my brain function at its best. So, I’m giving it a try.

  7. I love the way you look at minimalism, as it feels far less arbitrary when we examine how it impacts our enjoyment of life than when we just talk about possessions and stuff. (I like my stuff and it wouldn’t BE my stuff if I didn’t. I’m comfy with cozy, at it were, and too often, minimalism is presented as focusing on lessening (stuff) rather than increasing (enjoyment).

    I’ve been reading a great deal lately about toxic productivity, and between those dopamine hits of social media and the feeling that we need to be always-on, always-available, and always-productive, many of us have lost the skill of being unscheduled and just living in the moment. In the past decade, I think the only times I’ve felt completely immersed in fun were when I was in Italy, and the next year, in the UK. Having taken the time to set all expectations that I’d be unavailable, and due to the difficulty of checking social media (plus the time change), two different two-week blocks were key to slowing down and embracing the moment. But since the pandemic, I’m not sure “fun” has ever made an appearance. You’re giving me a lot to consider!
    Julie Bestry recently posted…Ask Paper Doll: Do I Really Need A Safe Deposit Box?My Profile

    1. I love this point about having been so intentional to let people know that you would be unavailable. That was necessary because of the external circumstances of international travel, but it makes me wonder why we feel we cannot do the same when we are living normal life? I hope we will keep trying to find ways to unplug, and “lighten the load” on our brains. True relaxation requires less stimuli to our brains, less dependence on the dopamine hit, and more stillness. At least, I think it does!

    1. And getting rid of supplies for other hobbies which you are not pursuing that might be obstructing access to those kayak and backpack supplies, right? Thankful for summer and a chance to enjoy these activities once again!

  8. We are celebrating the Royal Jubilee here in the UK next weekend with a local village fest – my husband and I are volunteering. Then later in the summer planning a visit to the USA to attend a balloon festival, visit family/friends, and hopefully do a bit of a road trip.

    #1 is so important – I often have a so much better time when I am not rushed and just take time to enjoy an activity or destination.

    Do you have any fun summer plans?
    Jessica recently posted…Nairobi Travel Guide: 24 Top Things to do in Nairobi KenyaMy Profile

    1. We are all watching your Royal Jubilee celebration from the US. So exciting!

      Sounds like finally some summer travel plans. I hope everything comes off smoothly, and I know you will write terrific summaries so we can plan our vacations. I’d love to the balloon thing in New Mexico – is that where you are going?

      Wherever it is, I hope you can soak it up and be fully present in the moment.

      In terms of my summer, I’m making a few trips to help my daughter find and move to a new apartment. Other than that, I’ll be enjoying the CT summer. If you land on the East Coast near NYC, let me know!

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