No, I’m not talking about the most well-known of two-word mantras, although we certainly know that saying “thank you” all day will shape your life into a magnificent thing. Giving thanks for what you have AND for what you want to have (in advance) is a sure-fire way to live a life that is happy. After all, a grateful heart attracts more to it to be grateful for.
But this article is about two OTHER words that need your attention if you are going to make this year one of your best. Life can sometimes get a little routine, filled with repetative tasks like the circular flow of never-ending laundry, work tasks, cleaning up after a meal (only to make another to clean up after), driving to and fro jobs and after-school activities. Sometimes it seems like the routines that make us feel comfortable can backfire and actually drain the life out of life.
After a long winter (like the one we had here in the north east USA), your energy might need as much spring cleaning as your floors to bring some color back into it.
Take a moment right now to remember back to a time when you felt really alive and excited by life. How old were you? What were you doing at the time? Chances are that two little words were the reason you loved (and now miss) those time periods the most. These two words bring out the bold and beautiful in any moment and have the natural side-effects of laughter and smiling. What words could bring out the fountain of youth within each and every one of us? Simply put, they are “yes” and “fun”.
Boy is it easy to say “no” in life. Just ask any kids you know- they hear it all the time!
As adults, we say no to life pretty frequently. Do I want to drive an hour to go out to dinner with my friends after I worked all day? No. Do I want to be intimate after losing sleep taking care of my sick children overnight? No, not really. Do I want to get off the couch and get ready so I can go dancing? Not so much. Do I want to take the long way home to enjoy the view? Not if I have million errands to get done.
But if we let every impulsive “NO” win, if we allow our first response to decide our fate, we are likely to have way too little fun.
See, as children and teens, saying Yes was our natural state. Yes, I want I ice cream before dinner! Yes, I want to play outside until it’s dark, skip my bath, and go another day dirty. Yes, I want to cut high school math and go to the beach with my friends instead! Yes, yes, yes!
The consequences were of little concern. Yes ruled the day. And even though our parents said No often, insisting that we do our homework before playing or not ride our bikes without helmets, Yes was our predominant inclination.
And that’s what made life feel good.
I think what happens, as we get older, is that we have so many darn responsibilities and goals that we say No to pleasure and play too frequently. We are working so hard that we actually become lazy about having fun. We say No to last minute plans with friends, No to spontaneously flirting with our partner, No to playing with our kids instead of just watching them play, No to loud music in the car, No to spending some of our hard earned money on adventure.
When I graduated college, my more spontaneous best friends proposed we go on a trip across country. Our one-month drive from east to west coast and back again was not well planned (all four of us slept in a 2 person tent almost every night), not particularly high-end (we drove and slept in our rented mini van), not well financed (we each had $1000 and no debit cards or cell phones), and mostly half-brained (on more than one occasion we were naive, duped, and almost in jeopardy).
It was the time of our lives. Mostly because we said Yes to experience, Yes to fun, Yes to “let’s see what’s next”, Yes to love and play. We said Yes to life.
This three letter word can be the compass that guides your life if you let it. There are two ways to do this: 1) Make fun a priority by setting an intention to have fun experiences and 2) transform any dull moment into a fun one with minor adjustments.
Setting The Intention To Have Fun
I tend to be a task-oriented person, always with a to-do list in my back pocket and a pen ready to add to it. This can be very non-fun for my loved ones, and for me. Thankfully, I add “have fun” onto the list so that my kids and I make space for lol activities.
Last year I had the most fun summer ever. This happened because I told myself in the prior winter and spring months that I was going to have an EXTREMELY fun summer, which I then acted upon by filling up our June, July, and August calendar months with tons of vacations, mini-trips, and activities. My philosophy was that if I penned it into the calendar, super events would be guaranteed and the weeks would be less likely to pass in a blur. I also know how a day can go by easily without really taking advantage of it or saying Yes to doing more than the have-tos. So my strategy was to make a lot of plans and seal the deal by committing to them. This way, we would have guaranteed fun and could opt to say yes to spontaneous plans along the way as well!
I didn’t want to end my summer and say “I can’t believe it’s over! We didn’t even do that much!” Rather, I was already envisioning myself telling people in September “I had my best summer ever!” And as I did, I also learned what I need to do to create a blueprint for fun: schedule and commit to plans in advance and get the heck out of the house. Why the latter? Because if I am home, I will get sidetracked by the never-ending tasks that hijack my day. It I want to have a lot of fun, I have to be out in the world where I can’t see my laundry pile, work calendar, or full dishwasher.
An easy place to start is to make a list of 12 things you would like to do that would feel really fun for you and get them on the calendar. Even if you picked only one to do per month, a more fun year would be guaranteed!
Making Non-Fun Things Fun
Organizing your world around the idea that life can be fun, no matter what you are doing, elevates the energy of any moment. But you have to say Yes to making fun your highest priority feeling.
It’s great to teach kids that you can make anything fun, and it’s a lesson each one of us usually needs a daily refresher course in. Again, having fun requires intention if you are not naturally fun all of the time . Putting music on when it’s clean up time, being goofy while making lunch, and having a contest to see who can brush their teeth the longest or find the most dust bunnies are all simple ideas that only require a fun-seeking parent.
If want my children to describe their childhood as fun, I know I have to allow it to be fun and inspire laughter and non-sense.
But you don’t need kids to make mini moments of fun. Let your hair down and whistle while you are taking care of the business of life. Make it a priority to belly laugh at least once a day. Be a little sillier that you usually allow. Turn the music on at the same volume you did when you were an exuberant teen. Text funny notes to friends and start a virtual giggle chain of messages.
What get’s in the way of allowing fun into even the most mediocre of tasks? “Rushing” or being stressed can make you a real fun murderer, decapitating smiley opportunities before they even get a chance to lighten your mood. If you’re not having fun, maybe it’s time to slow down just enough to let the light- and the love- into your day.
After all, without our 3-letter friends YES and FUN, there’s a whole lot of 4-letter words that will fill your day.