When I’m absorbed in a task, focused on the goals I’m trying to achieve, I forget about fun. What a mistake! Laughter is healthy– it strengthens the immune system, boosts energy, soothes pain, and diminishes stress. A good laugh relaxes me more than meditation and yoga combined. I just have to remember to have fun. How can I make sure to get my daily dose?
In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin wants to find what is truly fun for her instead of complying to everybody else’s definition of fun. She enjoys neither jazz music nor eating out in fancy restaurants. She wishes she found it fun because jazz is cool and so many of her friends like going out. On the other hand, she loves children literature but won’t admit it because it doesn’t sound very intellectual. In the end, she decides to “be Gretchen” instead of trying to be the person she wishes she were. So she stays at home to read Alice in Wonderland instead of going out to the latest trendy restaurant in New York City.
To find more sources of fun in her daily life, Rubin reverts to childhood- what she liked as a child wasn’t yet dictated by society’s expectations. My favourite activity as a child was reading. I didn’t want to go out in the sun to play; I wanted to read. Every week, my mum took me to the library where I would carefully select 6 books- the maximum I could take at one time. Often, I finished the 6 books in 2 days and longed for the next library trip. Reading was, and still is, a source of quiet fun for me. But the times I remember where I truly enjoyed myself and laughed were:
1. When we decided to dress up with my brother and sister to rehearse for a theater play we would make up. Already then, I understood that creation was fun.
2. Playing games. I loved board games like Monopoly, cards, checkers, Pictionary or even just guessing stuff. Games were fun because we played them all together, there was a challenge, and in my case, an ardent desire to win. My uncle is amazing at games. Everytime he came to visit, after dinner, he said: “lets play a game now”. Most of the time, he had invented the game. I remember once he made an intricate game mocking the justice system where one had to defend a case and the others could say: “Objection your honor!” and things like that. Most adults wearily agree to play games upon kids’ requests but he plays with great enthusiasm- for his own sake. He also always has a funny joke to tell. Family evenings with him are always filled with laughter. What I learned from him is that silliness can bring an incredible amount of fun.
Today, if I don’t think about fun consciously, it doesn’t happen enough in my life. My fiancé is also pretty serious, even though we sometimes fight like children. It’s amusing until I realise how much stronger than me he is- I can never win. Sometimes we play games, but the fun is ruined when he wins and I throw all the pieces across the living room. Luckily, I have friends who, like my uncle, remind me almost on a daily basis how good it feels to laugh and to be silly.
The other night, I was having dinner with Nick and two fun friends: Anna and Andrew.
Anna is both fun and lovely. She’s lovely because she gives hugs to people all the time and her face always carries a contagious smile. The other day, I was walking aimlessly through the corridors in the school where we both work; I must have looked a bit melancholy because she just gave me a hug when she saw me. She’s fun because her face produces a mix of hilarity and indignation whenever someone makes fun of her. She tries hard to be mad but can’t help laughing while her face gets all red. It’s really funny to watch.
Andrew is fun but not really lovely. Sometimes, life is boring so I text him to ask for a joke. I always get a little laugh in the next hour. Something like:
Q: What kind of bees make milk?
Also, one of his hobbies is to make fun of Anna and myself. He creates insane, surreal situations in a hope to make me angry for his own twisted amusement. When people first see and/or read my interactions with Andrew, they always wonder how we can be friends. “You’re really like cats and dogs”, said my friend Aurélie the other day. The truth is, we fight a lot. Most of the fights are just playful interactions. Sometimes, I really do get hurt. But overall, we laugh more than we fight and it’s never boring.
We decided to meet to prepare a birthday present for a common friend: Manuel. Manuel is such a huge movie fan that he invited all his friends- and he has a number of friends that is beyond reasonable- to watch a movie in a theater for his birthday. We had the present sorted but we were wondering about a card or a special message we could write to him. Andrew suggested thinking up mock movie names with his name in it like Of Mice and Manuel, BatManuel, A Few Good Manuel and so on. Then we started using his last name to produce even sillier names. Soon, we had a list of more than 40 names. We decided to make a DVD cover with one of them as part of the present. The next day, we collectively flooded Manuel’s Facebook wall with all our mock movie names. That was completely pointless but Manuel enjoyed it and it made me exhilaratingly happy for a day and a half.
Then Anna told us the story of how someone had defecated in her laundry room (this is not normal behavior in Switzerland!). The story was both silly and disgusting but we all started laughing and joking; her reaction was this mix of indignation and hilarity. I laughed so much that tears were rolling down my cheeks and I could barely breathe anymore. I felt good and relaxed until the end of the next day.
Friends are a major source of amusement for me. But I can’t depend entirely on them; I need to be able to bring fun to my own life. So here is a list of other things that help brighten a grey day:
- The easiest and more accessible way to laugh is to make fun of yourself and enjoy people mocking you. My accent, for example, unintentionally brings me easy laughter on a daily basis.
- Take time for unimportant things like watching a stupid video a friend mentioned, or playing a pointless game like Draw Something on iphone.
- Watch comedy and funny TV shows. My favourites are Louis CK, Flight of the Conchords, and Bref (in French).
- Play games: board games, made-up games… A lot of life situations can also be turned into games.
- Make fun of your friends and colleagues (only the ones who can take a joke and who enjoy it).
- Hang out with children.
- Read children’s books- they stimulate the imagination.
- When anything makes you laugh, enjoy the moment and let go completely. Let your laughter devlop and overwhelm you.
- Bring fun to people. Don’t just wait passively to be entertained. Making people laugh is even more enjoyable than laughing. I know how it feels because I make people laugh all the time- mostly unintentionally, but the benefits are the same so I don’t care.
- Remember funny things that happened and funny things people told you. Few things are as delightful as chuckling to yourself even though you’re alone in a bus on a grey day because you remember that time you sneezed food out of your nose.
I’ll conclude this post with a message coming from Hippy Cécile: Autumn is a season carrying great energy to start new projects and activities. Whatever goals you’re trying to achieve right now, don’t forget to have fun and to laugh.
Is there enough fun in your life? What brings a smile to your face? What makes you cry with laughter?