A Simple Guide To Having Fun

“I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun.”  ~Katharine Hepburn

Fun is underrated.

As adults, our lives are complicated and often very serious. We are involved in the serious business of grown-up stuff. We work hard. We support our families. We worry about money and higher prices. We fret about the condition of the world, politics, our children. We have endless chores and tasks without much time for fun.

Sometimes when I act silly and dance around the kitchen, my kids look at me like I'm a freak. I know what they are thinking. I can read their minds. “What do you have to be so happy about you loony tune? You're a grown-up. Stop having fun this instant.”

I used to straighten up right away when they gave me the stink-eye. That was before I grew younger as I've aged. Now I just dance some more. I've realized that fun is essential. What are we working so hard for anyway?

Fun doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant.

I did learn that from my stink-eyed children. In the summer, they can have fun from morning until bedtime, only pausing for meals. One summer I watched my son and his friends construct what I lovingly named “The Polish Taxi” (no offense to Polish people). The Polish Taxi was a plastic lawn chair duct taped to two skateboards. It took them hours to construct it. Then they spent the rest of the day pulling each other around behind a bicycle. Now that's fun.

I did something really fun and fairly out-of-character for me recently. I went to REI and bought a bicycle. A pretty nice hybrid bicycle that involves gear shifting and wearing padded pants. (The last bike I owned had a banana seat with flower power stickers.) We live near a bike trail along the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, and I have been riding a lot. Getting on that bike was like a time-travel experience back to childhood. It was liberating fun.

Now I look for opportunities for fun. I figure all of the hard work I've done with my career and raising children deserves some pay-off. And even if you're in the middle of working hard and raising children, you should still have as much fun as possible, because life is short and there's no guarantee of a Polish Taxi in heaven.

Here is a simple guide to creating more fun in your life:

1.  Take yourself and your life less seriously. Lighten up about the serious business of being an adult. Serious business will always be there whether or not you choose to focus on it all the time.

2.  Embrace the truth that fun is good. You don't need to feel guilty or embarrassed about having fun. Being an adult doesn't mean you've lost the child-like quality of wonder and joy and wild abandonment.

3.  Don't be self-conscious. It's OK to look goofy and unabashedly happy sometimes. Let your hair fly in the wind.

4.  Remember what was fun as a child. I loved riding my bike. Some of the old-fashioned stuff is still the most fun. Here are some other fun things you might try again:

  • flying a kite
  • sledding
  • canoeing
  • skating
  • dancing
  • throwing a ball
  • camping in a tent
  • fishing
  • wading in a stream
  • reading in a hammock
  • building a sandcastle
  • having a picnic
  • playing cards
  • jumping on a trampoline
  • riding with the windows down

4.  Nourish your friendships so that you have partners in fun. Some of the most fun occasions in my life have been with my girlfriends. Become the fun instigator of your circle. I've recently thought about having a pajama party brunch when Will and Kate (the Royals) get married. Imagine the stink-eye I'll get from my teenagers! Hah! That will be fun too.

5.  Build time for fun with your spouse or partner. Think back on the times when you were first together and the fun you created naturally. Rekindle those moments. Be playful. Make him/her laugh with silliness or private jokes. Take fun into the bedroom.

6.  Share fun with your children. It's easy to go off into your separate corners of the house to do chores, homework, computer surfing. Connect with your children through fun. They are the masters of it, so let them take the lead with a game a family game, a hobby, or a trip to an amusement park.

7.  Be creative and spontaneous. All fun activities don't have to be planned or traditional. Maybe creating a Polish Taxi isn't your idea of fun, but come up with something unexpected or surprising. Start a water balloon fight with your kids or have an impromptu scavenger hunt with your neighbors.

8. Make it non-competitive. There are many sports and games that are loads of fun until it starts getting competitive. Then lighthearted fun can quickly morph into an ego-based urge to win. That's a different kind of fun that stokes a different part of the psyche.

9. Be child-like, but remember your limits. I was urged by my kids to body surf in the ocean a few years back. They were having so much fun, and I wanted to join in. But with the first big wave, I was slammed to the ocean floor face first and sported a lovely abrasion from brow to chin for the remainder of the vacation.

10. Plan fun into your life. It's easy to forget about fun. It's been so long since it lived with us every day as a regular companion. Fun may not come knocking at your door, so you may have to invite it in. Plan fun activities with your family and friends. Look for opportunities to experience fun. Find ways to make the tedious tasks of life more interesting and fun to enliven your spirit and brighten your day.

I'm convinced that we are programmed from birth to have fun and enjoy this beautiful Earth we call home. It's only as we age that real fun is abandoned for the pursuit of it. As proof of this, I'd like to share this video of toddlers having fun before they learn to tone it down. (Please ignore any commercial message.)

Toddlers Cutting Loose

I hope you enjoy! Now go have some fun. And share what you do for fun in the comments.

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  1. I’ve been a long time reader, never commenter…this post just touched me in the right way. Everyone should take life less seriously. Daily danceoffs, picnics under the kitchen table because it’s too cold out for a real picnic, snowball fights (basically balled up socks thrown at each other) and other various activities are all part of our daily lives with our young children. They expect random & fun activities every day, and my wife and I sure do enjoy life much better when we do them.

    Thanks for writing so many wonderful blog posts. Your blog helps us stay happy 🙂

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Josh,
      Sounds like you have a happy household. I’m so glad you commented, and please do again! Thank you for your kind words.

  2. Oh. My best friend who lives very far away from me (so I couldn’t be there) had a girlfriend and sister pajama party over the winter! Her sister’s thought she had cracked and lost her mind, but they went along with it. My girlfriend kicked her husband out and sent him to her mother’s overnight. They had a BLAST. They stayed up until 5.30 am!

    It is SO easy to forget about fun. We are generation of children raised by serious, hardworking parents. Fun was not always a part of that stoic work ethic, in fact, it was often marginalized. I have to remember to have fun in the front of my brain, because it doesn’t always come naturally.

    This is one of the main reasons I bought myself a teeny Ipod for walking the dog, so that he and I can dance instead of walk. He does look at me kind of funny, but he’s just got to get over it. I work hard. I deserve to dance once in a while!!!

    Very good, important post. 🙂 xo

    • rogue apostrophe in the word sisters in the first paragraph. I hate it when that happens.

      • Accept that kind of error in the spirit of being too excited about having fun to pay total attention to your punctuation!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      I’d like to get to know your best friend! Maybe we can both meet you in Italy for an Italian pajama party. 🙂 My upbringing was pretty serious too. Fun was not a part of daily life. I’ve just recently (how sad) really learned the value of fun. Better late than never! Tell your dog he’s barking up the wrong tree if he thinks you’re going to stop dancing.

  3. Hi Barrie! I’m fairly new to your blog and enjoy it very much. I love this post. I believe I was born an adult and have youthened over the years. I spent much of my childhood being my mother’s parent. I had children early in life. With each decade since the age of 30 I’ve gradually released the pressure of all that and tried to have fun as often as possible.

    I’m fortunate that my kids are fun to be with and we have always enjoyed sharing in silliness. I feel sorry for those who take life so seriously and always want to be the ‘grown-up’. It’s very over rated.
    Thanks for a fun post!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Barbara,
      Remember that song that had the refrain, “I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now”? That’s how I feel too. I’m growing younger in spirit. I’m so glad you have joined my blog — welcome. I hope you will comment often.

  4. Thank you for this reminder! I often fall into the trap of working too much and starting new projects so that I will create a life with more free time. The goal is still a worthy one, but it’s easy to miss the fact that I can still make time for family and fun NOW. I don’t want to miss today’s opportunities while I focus on a tomorrow I’m not even guaranteed.

    I’ve discovered that it doesn’t take much to have fun. My kids think it’s awesome when I jump on the trampoline with them. When I make silly faces or tell goofy jokes, they seem to think I’m the funniest mom ever. Those are the times I want them to remember so I need to just jump in and be my goofy self more often.

    Thanks for another great post!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Faith,
      So nice to see you here! These are great days for you Faith. I hope you will continue to embrace them with that spirit of joy and lightness and never get to bogged down in the business of life. Keep jumping on trampolines!

  5. Great post! Fun us very important! I love watching something goofy with my daughter or telling each other silly jokes. She told me last week that she loves to hear me laugh and I will never forget that…when I am laughing hard enough, tears start streaming down my face …my friends tease me about this but I think it’s an indicator that I am having a good time! Come to think of it, I haven’t “laughed until I cried” in quite a while. I am overdue!!

  6. Oh ~ and what I do for fun ~ kayaking, watching That 70s Show or America’s Funniest Home Videos, playing board games with my 8-year-old, roller skating, happy hour with my friends, riding my bike, camping, bonfires at the beach, dancing, playing XBox games with the Kinect…I may be 36 but having FUN is still high on my list of priorities 🙂

  7. Christopher Lovejoy says:

    “Live young.” Now there’s a mantra I can forever embrace. Fun post, Barrie. And the vid? So cute! I love it. Your relationship with fun is very healthy and happy 😀

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Christopher,
      I’m so glad you liked it. Those babies are something, aren’t they??

  8. So very important to remember to have fun! I remember when I was going thru a tough time in my marriage and in my life in general. I realized we weren’t doing anything for fun! Now I try to do something fun everyday, even if it is just playing keepaway with my dogs!
    Another fun game? Tossing ping-pong balls into a moving ceiling fan! You never know where they are going to shoot out! Loads of giggles and the more people and the more ping-pong balls you use, the better!

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Never tried that one before Bernice. Off to the store to buy ping pong balls!

  9. Barrie, you’re brilliant. I think I’m getting to know you a bit better. Maybe this is another gift that fun can give us….

    … It can help us drop our silly little human quirks for a moment if we have any like I do and see the genuine beauty and uniqueness of another person with a clearer and brighter eye. A long long sentence but I couldn’t quite figure where to break it up.

    I’m definitely going to follow up on some of your great tips.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Thank you Christopher! Yes, fun is a great equalizer. We are all silly humans that mess up, think we are important, and take ourselves too seriously. Fun makes us all the same — like kids in a sandbox.

  10. I’ve never been one to cut-up and have rioutous, silly fun. I have learned how to do some of this with my grandkids (everyone deserves to have a grandchild – they are the best!). Now if I could only return the favor to the oldest granddaughter who is too much like me and stands outside the circle rather than jumping in to have silly or playful fun.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Hi Timaree,
      You can be reserved and still have fun I believe. If silly fun doesn’t feel right, then something else might. The concept of letting go is important though. If we hold back because we are living up to expectations or fear failing, then we are missing out on some wonderful experiences.

  11. I like your suggestion to think like a child. Even better, spend time with a child. Whether you have your own kids, kids in your family or you spend time with children volunteering, simply being around them is one of the best ways to have fun.

  12. Thanks for your sharing.
    Fun is an important part of our life because it helps us to reduce stress and raise our optimistic.
    It is easy to follow your simple guides to creating more fun in my life

  13. Is fun an activity or a state of being?
    Greater article focused on fun activities that we must leave our boring jobs /chores to participates in. In my extremely boring office, there is a guy who is fun to be . Everyone wants him on their project team. I wish I knew how he does it ! Id love to see more about having fun where you are at. Are you that guy? How do you do it?

    Side note…I wish this site was mobile friendly

  14. “I’ve realized that fun is essential. What are we working so hard for anyway?”
    Very nice :).

    I really enjoyed this article! I think it’s great what you do, always being so positive in your posts and putting all these motivational messages out into the world. (At least) some of you Americans really have a great attitude. Thank you for that!

  15. Woww..my tears are falling..hope to have like that with my best-friend and have a happy moments..all I do for now is focusing on my studies..:):)

  16. veronica wambui says:

    waow, thank u ineeded that. you have realy put it well, grown up stuff is all serious and it makes life unbearable at times.

  17. Thanks for this article Barrie! In fact thank you for all your articles! They’re always really entertaining and yet very helpful to read- thank you for being there for all of us, you are so inspiring 🙂

  18. Thank you. This girls night cocktail party I’m planning is taking on a completely new meaning. We are really going to have fun. My three very young children will thank you for helping me loosen up, as will my hubby. Looking forward to reading more of your insights.