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How much fun do you allow yourself to have each day?

Some may ask this question another way like, “How much fun you do have each day?” Regardless of the wording, it’s helpful to consider the current reality of the person answering the question. For example, consider how each of the following may answer that question:

· A person hyper-focused on their career and 110 per cent committed to getting ahead;

· A person experiencing a mental health issue and struggling emotionally;

· A person in a job they don’t enjoy;

· A person happy with their career;

· A person overwhelmed by the demands of home and work;

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· A person in a caretaking role after work hours;

· A person experiencing a chronic health issue.

Each of the above people likely will have a different definition of fun, a different perception of their ability to have fun and different reasons why they can or can’t have fun.

The word fun literally means enjoyment, amusement and entertainment. How people have fun varies from unplanned moments that happen because a person is open to pause and enjoy the random moments life gives us, such as a funny e-mail or a funny story from a peer, to planned moments from meeting friends or engaging in personal passions.

The ways we can have fun are unlimited, as the possibilities are endless. Ultimately, one universal experience and benefit for healthy and safe fun are the intrinsic feelings of happiness and joy that offer a powerful, positive distraction from life’s challenges.

One simple mnemonic that captures the power of healthy fun is:

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F – Free from tension, pressure and responsibilities;

U – Union and connection with the present moment (for example, being in the now);

N – Nice for yourself and others enjoying a positive experience and feelings.

The purpose of this micro skill is to pause and consider how actively you capture moments of healthy fun, instead of thinking about a time when you can or will have fun.

Awareness

Life is busy for most people, whether they are a professional or work in the home. Fun for some of us can feel elusive or something we’ll get to when there’s time. Ask yourself: On a scale of one to 10, how satisfied are you with the amount of fun you’re having on daily basis?

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Any score less than five may suggest that you can benefit from more fun. If your score is nine or 10 it may be worth asking yourself if the amount of fun you’re having is putting any responsibilities or relationships at risk.

Finding a healthy balance of fun is one element of a fulfilling life. The average person won’t get to the point that 100 per cent of their day-to-day existence is fun. While there are such people, when it comes to fun, most of us find a healthy balance between fun and the reality of day-to-day responsibilities.

The first step is to take an honest look at the amount of fun you’re having and whether you want to add more fun to your life. Or perhaps you’re considering having a bit less fun and shifting this time to achieving a goal that you may have been putting off.

Accountability

Some people simply don’t make having fun a priority. They’re more focused on the tasks they believe they need to do to be responsible and to achieve their goals. Others may be having too much fun and allowing some of their responsibilities to slip.

Taking charge of the amount of fun we have begins with putting things in context with respect to our daily reality and challenges. This can help determine the path we can take to manage our fun. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to have more fun in your life if it doesn’t negatively impact your commitments, health and safety or others around us. To have more fun in life it’s helpful to be clear on its benefits. Healthy fun is good for mental health and happiness.

The next step is setting the intention and degree of fun you would like to have in your life.

Action

Creating planned fun begins with a commitment:

Define what fun is for you and the benefits you think fun has for you. Write out the ways you believe you can have fun. Be specific on why each planned or unplanned way is fun for you.

Like any activity in life, having fun requires making it a priority and making time for it. It can be helpful to, at a minimum, schedule your fun activities weekly. Highlight how you will have fun, what activities you might want to do, and with whom you want to share the time. It doesn’t need to be a formal plan, but without protecting time for fun a busy life can get filled by other pressing priorities. To have planned fun we must make fun time important.

If you want to have more or less fun but you’re not sure where to start, this level of awareness can be the first step to engage in conversations with trusted peers or a mental health professional about the topic.

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto.

You can find all the stories in this series at tgam.ca/workplaceaward

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