Why fun is fundamental to your health and happiness
“Having fun is not a diversion from a successful life; it is the pathway to it… written in the language of joy.”
~ Martha Beck
When was the last time you felt light-hearted, connected, and alive with joy? What were you doing? Who were you with?
Maybe you’ve been crazy busy… or stuck in a loop of everyday life… or weighed down by difficult circumstances… or overwhelmed by change and uncertainty. There are serious, sad, and confronting things happening in the world around us, contributing to general stress and an epidemic of mental health issues. In these tough times, fun may seems frivolous.
But what if fun was the secret to health and well-being?
Recently I came across a book “The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again” by science journalist Catherine Price. (She also does a great TED Talk.) She says having fun is a like a health intervention that can bring you back to life.
Catherine explains there’s a big difference between what she calls “fake fun” and “true fun”. Fake fun gives a quick fix of pleasure – like fast-food, binge-watching Netflix, scrolling socials or a few wines – it ultimately leaves you feeling numb and unsatisfied.
By contrast, true fun is a relaxed and open state that makes you feel nourished and refreshed. Through her own research and experience, Catherine defines true fun as a congruence of three psychological states – playfulness, connection, and flow.
- Playfulness means being spontaneous, light-hearted, and doing something just for the pleasure of it, without striving for a goal or outcome.
- Connection means having a special shared experience with someone (or something) else. Meaningful relationships and human connection are vital for our physical and mental health.
- Flow state is a feeling of effortless attention where you’re so fully immersed in an activity that you lose track of time. Your skills meet the challenge, and you feel deeply satisfied.
How to fill your life with more playfulness, connection and flow.
- Increase playfulness by embracing your inner 5-year-old and giving yourself permission to be more spontaneous, expressive, and free of judgment.
- Increase connection by interacting more with others in real life… face to face, soul to soul, human to human. Notice how our differences disappear when we connect through fun.
- Reduce distractions to increase flow. Replace mindless screen time with more purposeful presence, doing what you love.
- Commit to daily rituals and weekly activities that nourish your body, engage your mind, and liberate your spirit.
Make fun a priority…
Scan your daily life and make 2 lists. Write down
- activities (or people) that take up time and result in feeling empty or drained.
- activities (or people) that help you get into a state of playful, connected flow and leave you feeling energised and alive.
Set your intention to invest less time on #1 and more on #2. Sounds easy, but think about how much time you spend on your phone. Taking action on this can be a powerful habit breaker.
When you feel like you’re getting your joy back, you’ll know you’ve got the balance right for you! Research affirms you are more resilient, creative, persistent, present, and productive when you are engaged in pursuits that bring us maximum fun.
Want more fun… do more Nia!
Nia is a serious practice that reminds you not to take yourself too seriously! Every Nia experience offers opportunities for playfulness, connection, and flow. With contagious joy and community at its heart, practising (and sharing) Nia brings you meaningful connection, a sense of purpose, and sustainable health and wellbeing… the FUNdamentals of feeling alive!
If you want more joy in your life, why not (re)commit to coming regularly to my online or in-person Nia classes or immerse yourself in a week of fun and self discovery with the Nia White Belt?
“Fun is important. Fun is what keeps you ageless.” ~ Dr Christiane Northrup
MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE – PLAYFUL NIA PRACTICE
First, tune in to your body and notice any places that feel heavy or tight. Take this 3 minute dance break with me and then afterwards, notice what feels better and give gratitude for that. Thank you body!