Those of us who have difficulty with the request to “have fun” can feel like our minds have completely rebelled against fun. The idea of having fun or the lack thereof can even make some of us anxious.
- I am not referencing depression, which is the sort of thing that you cannot just “snap out of.” Depression is a mental illness and suggestions from others that you are “just feeling sorry for yourself” can be extremely dangerous. If you are struggling with depression and regardless of all of those who want to help, you need to seek professional assistance.
- I am also not suggesting that if you are feeling sad that somehow you need to reverse your feelings and just “be happy” just because someone told you to be.
But for all of us who struggle with the experience of fun because of the environment that we grew up in, or the influencers in our lives, or our overindulgence in guilt and judgment, there is no such thing as a little victory. This is because every accomplishment toward experiencing fun is a very big victory.
While everyday, routine fun comes naturally to most people, for some of us it is a much harder feat (making “everyday fun” rather an oxymoron). It takes more time for us to simplify our lives, to step out of ourselves, and get beyond what we are thinking. In order to approach this thing called fun, we have to affect our routine patterns of life like giving up that extra cup of coffee in order to relax, or stand up and stretch our muscles to break the concentration or focus on a specific subject. Before we can accept the motivating desire to face into fun, sometimes people like me have to lighten up by doing all three: decline the unnecessary but bodily need for more caffeine, cause my heart to step into the beat by moving from my reclining attitude to one of aerobic flexibility, and take a turn around a city block or two.
People do not understand that those who struggle with having fun are driven by fears — fears take over when there is a reason to connect with someone else. Our fears can impact even the smallest pleasures in life like hanging out with friends, participating in an activity and even enjoying intimacy.
We know that fun can make our lives dramatically different. But sometimes we need an open mind and continuous support, which includes the challenge of helping us put into words what’s going on in our minds, especially when we know that not everyone around us feels the same way. It is important that people understand our negative approach to life before asking us to do a complete reversal. It is not that you have to see through our dark-colored glasses; just understand that it is going to take us a longer time to adjust to the sunlight.
And just because there are a lot of us who truly do want to have fun but have difficulty doing so, there is not one strategy that works for all. I am discovering my path to fun is to overcome resistance by cutting down on my caffeine and sugar intake. I am not suggesting my path is the best for anyone but me. But I am suggesting that everyone does have a best path. It is a matter of disclosing to others and to yourself the need for simplicity and the resulting fun that can follow. We need to allow people to come into our lives, walk alongside of us, and understand that there is a need for patience as we begin to connect. We have to learn to give ourselves permission to have fun, reach out and connect with people who truly want us to experience fun, and, of course, who want to have fun with us.
And it is okay to talk about our shortcomings, to understand that we are not alone. We need to make sure there are people who understand our comfortable tendency to want to be left in our aloneness — and ask them to never leave us to ourselves. It is a weakness to isolate ourselves in our own thoughts and away from interactions, but it is not a moral shortcoming. We did not bring the lack of fun in our lives on ourselves. And understanding that is a pretty powerful beginning to finding fun with all of the wonderful people who care about us.
Everybody, get into the pool! There is so much more to having fun than what meets the eye.