One of the coaching “tools” I’ll occasionally use with my clients is called the “Wheel of Life.”

It’s a really simple concept that usually leads to some massive insights. Here’s what the “Wheel of Life” looks like:

Wheel of Life

As we talk through each piece of the wheel, I’ll ask clients to rank how happy and satisfied they currently feel in each category. It’s really valuable for creating a visual of what areas in their life need some boosting up.

Invariably, when we get to the “fun and enjoyment” slice of the pie, my clients feel a bit stumped. Not only do they tend to rank it pretty low on the 1-10 scale, but it’s obvious they haven’t given much thought to how much fun they’re having in quite awhile. I usually hear something like, “Umm, fun? What exactly do you mean by that?”

YOUR INNER KID IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU

Remember when we were kids? Our lives were mostly about making everything as fun as possible.

Kids innately understand how to have fun. In fact, the moment something starts to feel boring, lame, or difficult, they’ll find a way to turn it into a game. They’re brilliant at this!

Can you imagine a kid asking you, “What exactly do you mean by fun? Can you explain that to me?” No, you can’t. Because it’s literally never happened in the history of children. We were all born with an inherent desire to seek fun, playfulness, and joy.

As a kid, I could make setting the dinner table or vacuuming the living room into an imaginative game. I’d spend hours coming up with elaborate and dramatic stories about the inter-relationships of my stuffed animals. I’d go on adventures in the woods in my backyard that would last all afternoon.

Do you ever wonder where all of that imaginative power went?

Sometimes I think my 7-year-old self is looking at me with incredulity and disappointment in her eyes, asking, “What happened to you? When did you forget to find the fun in everything?”

WHEN DID FUN BECOME FRIVOLOUS?

Now that we’re adults, most of us have lost touch with that sense of playfulness and imagination.

As “grown ups,” we’re now limited to a few generally acceptable activities if we want to have fun — most common on the list are drinking with friends, going to a movie, grabbing dinner out somewhere, or binge-watching shows. Most of which make you feel like crap afterward (drinking, over-eating, over-spending, sitting sedentary too long, etc.) and do little to nothing to exercise your creativity, inspiration, and sense of lighthearted “play.”

To most adults, doing things “just for fun” is synonymous with doing something useless, purposeless, or frivolous. Frankly, it sounds like a waste of time to most of us.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

THE DANGERS OF BEING TOO SERIOUS AND “ADULT”

I’m worried that most of us have become too serious and forgotten how to have real fun. Playfulness isn’t meant to be something we grow out of — it’s fuel for our creativity, joy, relationships, and even health.

Here’s what it feels like when you’re not having enough fun:

The scariest danger of losing your sense of playfulness comes from Dr. Stuart Brown, who’s a psychologist and clinical researcher studying playfulness and fun, in adults as well as kids. He even founded something called the National Institute for Play (field trip anyone??). After years of studying “play,” he said … 

twitter-bird “The opposite of play is not work — the opposite of play is depression.” – Dr. Stuart Brown

WORK + FUN COMBINED (YOU DON’T HAVE TO CHOOSE)

Maybe you’re nodding your head with me, thinking, “Yeah, I do need more fun in my life. I just wish I had more time for it.”

Having fun feels like something that must fit into spare moments of our lives. It feels like something we’ll try to squeeze in if we can find a gap in our busy schedules.

But I want to discourage you from thinking of “fun” and “playfulness” as something to add to your to-do list. Instead, think of “fun” as more of a mindset than an activity. It’s about looking for the sense of lightness and wonder in the things you’re already doing, including your work.

Not only is bringing a sense of playfulness into your work (and all areas of your life) more enjoyable, it may actually be critical if you want to find true fulfillment.

Here’s another quote from Dr. Stuart Brown about what happens with you combine play + work:

“Respecting our biologically programmed need for play can transform work. It can bring back excitement and newness to our job. Play helps us deal with difficulties, provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery of our craft, and is an essential part of the creative process. Most important, true play that comes from our own inner needs and desires is the only path to finding lasting joy and satisfaction in our work. In the long run, work does not work without play.”

WHAT DOES FUN MEAN TO YOU?

Lately I’ve been focusing on walking my talk when it comes to having more fun in my day-to-day life. Here are a few things that I’m doing to have more fun:

Now I want to hear from you. What will you do to bring more fun, creativity, and lightheartedness to your day-to-day life?

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

 


 

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  1. I love this article! I’ve thought back several times this year to how imaginative and creative my childhood was – where did that go? This reminds me that I can bring it back : )

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