What do you do for fun?

Someone asked me that a few months ago, and I really struggled to answer it. I could tell you what I did in my free time. But even though I enjoy those activities, calling them fun would be a stretch.

Take reading, for example. I most often read to learn. And although I enjoy it, I wouldn’t call it fun. Not the way getting lost in a great novel so that you can’t even get a meal on the table is fun. How absurd that I don’t do more of the latter! (They won’t starve, right?)

So what is it that makes something fun?

Is it something spontaneous?

Something that makes you laugh or feel excited?

Something that pulls you out of your physical or mental routine?

I guess it’s different things for different people, but one thing it seems to require is engagement. When you are having fun, you know it, you feel it, you are ALL IN. Maybe that is why we can be entertained (think Netflix) but not necessarily be having fun.

When I think something is going to be fun, I CAN’T WAIT to do it. As I looked at my daily agendas, they didn’t have nearly enough of that fun energy.

When you’re a kid, the balance is tipped in fun’s favor. Sure, you have your obligations. But kids try to fill every other minute with fun.

As you get older, fun starts to get edged out by responsibilities. Work takes up more time and for so many people that doesn’t include a lot of fun. We also start to add in our personal to-do list of things we think we should do. Like exercising. Enjoyable? Yes (on a good day). Fun? Hmmm…I don’t think I’d call it fun most of the time.

Then, we add in relationships, children and friendships to care for. Plus, the more things we own the more things we need to maintain. And the scale becomes so beyond tipped that fun no longer has a chance of providing any balance in our lives.

Fun becomes fleeting moments like lunch with a friend, a concert, a vacation. We lose that childhood agenda of, “What fun thing am I going to do today?”

Why is that?

I know for me, it can feel self-indulgent and irresponsible. Choosing fun over something on the never-ending to-do list majorly trips the guilt wire. But how ridiculous!

When I think about how I feel after I’ve done something fun and how it bleeds into the next moments of my life and the interactions I have, it makes no sense whatsoever to place it at such a low priority. Or to place so many silly self-imposed tasks in front of it.

And why am I not choosing fun when I have so many options. Let’s go back to exercising. Why am I doing the activities I’m doing if they aren’t fun? That seems crazy.

But before I could allow myself the freedom to do something fun, I still had to answer that question first. “What do I do for fun?”

I had let fun slip so far out of my life that I had to go back and recall the things I used to do for fun. I had to really think, because they weren’t showing up in my every day. I had to remember.

Oh yeah, I love to cook! Why have I let this become some tedious chore?

Oh yeah, I love to listen to music! Why am I sitting in a silent house?

I also started to be more mindful of the fun that was already there. Sometimes we are so busy running around that it isn’t until we are in our favorite yoga class or talking to that friend we had a phone date with that we realize how much fun we’re having. We didn’t get all the juicy anticipation. But if we look ahead a little and see something fun on the agenda, it’s like this lovely little treat to look forward to. We can capitalize on that giddy fun energy by bringing it into the present moment.

As it turns out, it took relatively little adjusting to start to bring fun back into my life AND to pay closer attention to the fun that was already there.

I am starting to ask myself that question that kids ask, “What fun thing am I going to do today?”

How would YOU answer it?