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)
- Relaxing on the beach
- Dining out
- Attending and participating in sporting events
- Painting, crafting, knitting
- 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.
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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?