Last year, I read a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It was more than a book, it was more like a self-paced course to help blocked creatives become creative again. I didn’t know that before I started, I just read it because it had been suggested by so many people in podcasts and blogs. It was a worthwhile experience.
It’s full of activities and prompts to help you dig into your own creativity and to find joy and to make time to explore and make and do.
One of the activities, fairly early on, was to write a list of 20 things that you enjoy doing.
Now, I wasn’t in the best of places at the end of last year. I don’t really think anybody was. I was not in crisis yet, but I was well on the way.
I found it really hard to write a list of 20 things I enjoyed doing.
And maybe a week or so after I wrote the list I thought, ‘Hang on. I enjoy dancing. Dancing is a big part of who I am. Why isn’t dancing on that list?’
I had lost touch with myself. I had lost touch with the part of myself that had fun.
Playing and having fun is a big part of being human. It’s an important part of mental health.
And it’s a very easy thing to squeeze out of our lives.
I am a Type A personality. I admit it. I love lists. I love structure. I love to Get Things Done. But I can get so involved in looking at the jobs that need doing and crossing them off that I forget to enjoy life on the way through.
I like things to have purpose. And that’s good. But some things should be done for no purpose. Just for the joy of it. Not to monetise, not to add to your body of work, not to be part of your business. But just for fun.
My father-in-law has started a new project. He’s fulfilling a life-long ambition to make a model train set. In their back room he has a table on wheels and on that table is a train track that goes around and around, and he’s sculpted some hills and some rivers, and used 3D printing to make houses and train stations and people and so on. Last weekend, to celebrate his 70th birthday, all the boys in the family went to his place and worked on the train set. They wired in lights, used Arduino technology to make them come on in interesting ways. They worked on the train whistle.
Now, I looked at the train set and my whole self went, ‘But why?’ What is the point of this? You can’t even make a story out of it. It just goes around and around.
But that is the point. That is the whole point. This project is play. It’s deep play and it’s great.
Moz is teaching himself to play piano. I enjoy listening to him play through worship songs, or some Elton John or Annie Lennox. He plays just for the fun of it. He doesn’t want to be part of a worship team or a band that plays gigs every week. He just enjoys playing. I love that. I need to put more of that in my life. I think all of us need to have these fun things in our lives.
I’m not good at play. Mostly I just look at all the things that need to be done, and try to do them. Try to get the whole list crossed off before the week ticks over and I have to do it all again.
Or if I do enjoy something, like writing, then I write whole novels and sell them and try to make a living doing that.
I’m trying to change though. Now I put on funky music and dance in the kitchen, just for fun. I have an adult colouring book to work my way through and I’m trying not to stress too much when I colour outside the lines. I play card games with people and try not to mind when I lose. I mess around on the bass guitar, not for any reason, just to enjoy the music. I meet with friends for coffee and laughter and fun conversation.
Fun reminds me that I don’t have to ‘do’ all the time, that it’s OK sometimes just to ‘be’. That I am valuable for who I am, not just what I produce.
It’s so easy to lose this part of ourselves, but life with out light and laughter is no life at all. In all our organising and bringing order to our lives, let’s not forget to leave room for a little bit of fun every now and then. Make time to do the things you enjoy, just for the sake of enjoyment.
What do you enjoy doing? What do you do to bring fun into your life?