Are You Having Fun?

You heard me. It’s quite a simple question – Are you having FUN? Well, are you? If not, why not? And most important, what are you waiting for?

I ask this important question for three reasons:

  1. Life is supposed to be fun, both personally AND professionally;
  2. We don’t often ask this question of ourselves or of others; and
  3. Having fun might just be the one thing we’re missing in our personal and professional lives.

Think about it – while we could have a philosophical discussion about the meaning of life and whether fun is part of it, doesn’t it simply make sense that life is supposed to include fun as a key element? If you really want to test this theory, ask yourself this: What would you tell your children if they asked you whether life is supposed to be fun? I know what I would tell my sons, and hopefully we can agree that at a minimum life should include some element of fun.

Certainly we can agree that having fun is not something that we regularly talk about or ask others about (at least not in the business world). When was the last (or first) time that someone asked you if you were having fun? When was the last time you answered someone’s “how are you doing” question with “I’m having fun!”? Let’s face it, fun is not a regular part of our conversations or communications, and it’s time to get “fun” back into our conversations and our lives.

In reason 3 above, I’m suggesting that the absence of fun (including the failure even to think about fun as a goal) is something that is not only keeping us from achieving happiness, peace and the always elusive balance, but also preventing us from getting unstuck or experiencing life as we always envisioned it could be. While being focused, thinking seriously and working effectively have their place in all things, fun is the one thing that truly allows us to live versus merely doing life. Think about how often we default into our “I’m so busy” mode. Frankly, being busy usually doesn’t equate to having fun for most of us. Trust me, I know because I’ve been reminded of this frequently over the past year.

As many of you know, the past five plus years have been truly transformational for me as I have faced myself and, as a result, made many positive changes in my life (personally and professionally). This journey included becoming hyper-vigilant about understanding myself and my choices, as well as seeking to understand the meaning of everything in my life. While this shift has been profoundly positive for me, it also led me to swing so far into the serious seeker mode that I had trouble ever turning it off. As a result, it was not always fun for my friends to be around me. In fact, some honest friends shared with me that they were hesitant to spend time with me because it was too serious and intense. In the words of one friend: “Jeff, I love spending time with you, but I don’t always want to figure out the meaning of life or even my own life. Sometimes I just want to hang out and have fun with you.” Ouch–and THANK YOU for taking the risk to help me see that I was missing fun in my life.

A couple of months ago, another friend asked me, “Jeff, do you ever just do something for fun without an agenda or mission of deep understanding?” My honest answer was “not very often,” and my answer got my attention. I realized that I had stopped having fun in my life or that I was not allowing fun to be an integral part of my life, including in the meaningful conversations in my life. I had become that which I abhor – I had become an “or” person – apparently believing (based upon my actions) that I either had to be serious (and constantly digging into the meaning of life) OR have fun. Take it from me – life is all about the and/both, and you can pursue life with a passion for understanding AND have fun. I love living more and more at this intersection as a seeker who is having fun while I’m seeking, and this balance can exist in every part of your life.

Last weekend I was part of the leadership staff for a Mankind Project men’s retreat in North Carolina. During one of the intense parts of the weekend, while we were working with the attendees on deep explorations of themselves, I walked up to several men and asked, “Are you having fun?” Each one of them later said that it was a great reminder that they were doing something that they loved and that having fun is an important part of doing what you love. Think about that – doesn’t it make sense that having fun would be a part of doing something that you love?

Thanks to friends and new choices of attention and action, I now get it. It’s supposed to be fun, and it can be fun, even when I’m doing something that’s important or even potentially serious. Yes, there are times that fun might be inappropriate, but frankly I can’t think of many times when that would truly be the case. Let’s face it – we are all great at being serious, and that’s pretty easy for most of us. What’s more challenging is to have fun and to seek out the fun no matter what we’re doing. Imagine how you will feel if your most typical answer to questions includes some element of “I’m having fun.”

Let’s all commit to adding more fun into work, life and relationships. Start making fun one of your key goals in everything you do and in every interaction you have. Start asking yourself if you’re having fun. If the answer is yes, then keep it up. If the answer is no, then figure out how to add fun into whatever you’re doing. If you can’t find the fun, then maybe it’s time to stop doing what you’re doing. Finally, start asking others if they’re having fun, and in doing so invite them to make fun part of their daily experience. We all know that life is short, and I’m now very clear about one thing – it’s supposed to be fun. So, are you having fun?

Its Supposed to Be Fun

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