My husband is an avid gamer. When I was pregnant a couple years back, I essentially turned into a pumpkin by 9 om every night. I was out like a light. So Lawrence learned to fill his evenings with his playing Destiny online with his buddies. Ok. I realize how that sounds. It’s a video game, people!
This little habit continued for the following two years. It started to annoy me. I thought he was getting addicted to the game. (He might have been?) I thought of how much more productive he could have been with that time, and how much he could accomplish had he put his evenings to more practical use.
Why is it Important to Have Fun?
As Martha Beck, an Oprah-approved life coach wrote “Each of us is born with a propensity to have fun doing certain types of activities, in certain proportions” She calls the pattern of activities you that most enjoy your “funprint.” Like your thumbprint it’s unique. I can definitely identify with that. If you were to sit me down with a Playstation and a 50″, I would look at you blankly.
Then when you weren’t looking, I’d probably post it up on Kijiji and try to sell the thing. Video games do not resonate with me. Not even a little bit. But they capture my husband’s attention for hours on end.
I got curious as to whether or not video games, and well, having fun in general, had any benefit to anyone, let alone grown-ass men who, in my opinion, had much more important work to do.
It turns out, I couldn’t be any more mistaken. There is legit scientific evidence to support that when you have fun and when you’re playing, you actually become more creative. Michigan State University actually did a study on a group of 500 12-year old children (both boys and girls), and the effect of video games had on creativity. They discovered that these kids were, in fact, more creative when they did tasks like drawing and writing stories than previously.
So maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on my husband…
Do You even Know What You Find Fun Anymore?
Too many of us run by default. We’re stuck in a pattern. We wake up. Go to work. Come home. Eat dinner. Do something with the family. Watch TV. Go to bed. Repeat. We’re inundated in a world of have to’s, should’s, need to’s and sighs… it’s disheartening even to write those words. When you become parents, you succumb to even more routine. To add to that, it becomes all about someone else. As grownups, we start to feel guilty about having fun. We feel guilty about indulging, and that it’s no longer our right to have fun.
We think that if we have fun, we’re being frivolous and that we throwing our caution and responsibility to the wind. Certainly, our society has the perception that if we’re having fun, our heads are “in the clouds.” We’re not progressing if we’re playing. I’m sure the Asian cultural impact amplifies this as well, in my life anyway.
Look, if you’re not having fun with what you’re doing in your life, be it your job, your family, your relationship, what good is it? Sure all the regular prerequisites should apply. As I wrote in my post “How to Make your 2017 Fierce with Purpose,” all of these are absolutely required: having direction, a vision, a life purpose. But if you’re not having fun while executing what you set out to do, you’re making it way harder on yourself than it needs to be. What’s more, is that you’ll give up more easily. It’s not sustainable.
Have you ever read Richard Branson’s autobiography “Losing my Virginity?” At one point in the book, he mentions that if he starts not to have fun in a particular business, it’s a sign that he needs to make his exit. He’d either sell it or find someone to take it over.
How do you know when you’re not having fun?
This is an easy one. If you’re dreading what you’re doing day to day, without light at the end of the tunnel, it’s pretty obvious, that your calling is elsewhere. Why would you be wasting your time here? Of course, even when you have identified whatever your true calling is, there will be elements in the pursuit which you don’t enjoy. But you’ve got that light at the end of the tunnel towards which you’re progressing. Read any book on goals and success and they’ll teach you to keep your eye on the prize. That’s the key. Do you know what your prize is?
Create Your Downtime
Ok. I’ll be honest. I myself have a guilt complex in creating downtime. I know I only have so many hours in a day. 6.5 hours of it, I spend unconscious. The balance of my time is spent:
- Doing consulting work for my clients
- Teaching fitness 3 times/week
- Being a mom
- Writing a weekly blog post
- Strategizing about my business
- Developing online courses
- Co-making dinner
- Recording podcasts
- Connecting with people
- Caring for myself personally
I’m sure you’ve got a similar load. I find it hard to commit to some downtime other than just before going to bed. Even then I have a bedtime routine of reading goals, doing eye exercises, reading 10 pages of a personal development book (I haven’t even got to do this), before bed every night.
Block out your Recreation Time
As Gary Keller advocates in The ONE Thing, high achievers know the important of rest time. They know that it’s supremely important to block out some time to rest. Gunning it 100% is, first, impossible. Second, your productivity diminishes as time progresses. Whereas if you schedule some downtime, your body and spirit know that there’s a pit stop around the bend. Chances are, you’ll be able to produce at a higher level for longer because you’ve got that light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s like when you’re training to run a long distance. At the beginning, you set little distance goals for yourself. You achieve them. You rest. Gradually you get better at running longer distances. Your pit stops are further apart. But they never disappear. Even when you get to the point where you’re running marathons, rest days are an integral part of training. Same thing with running the marathon of life.
Life’s too Short not to Do the Things you Enjoy
I met a guy named David Dang Vu. He runs multiple businesses involving Amazon and eBay, digital products, and vacation rentals. He guns it. Then he goes on these fabulous trips around the world. In the past year, he’s posted up crazy video clips of him scuba diving in Thailand, exploring Cambodia and Vietnam, landing in a snowy Switzerland with little more than shorts and a T-shirt. This trip was one that he intentionally left his luggage at home. He intended on only having what’s on his back, and just buying the rest of it as he needed it. That’s balling. Little does he know that I currently live vicariously through him a little bit. But I definitely aim to follow in his footsteps.
Three ways to Take the Blue Pill
Not to be confused with viagra… it’s not that kind of blog. Remember The Matrix? Take the red pill and everything continues as normal. Take the blue pill and I’ll show you just how far the rabbit hole goes.
Ok, that’s a little intense, but you get the point.
1. Find the Gratitude in Every Task
In a recent School of Greatness episode, there was one Dean Graziosi who made this fortune selling real estate via infomercials back in the day. He acknowledges that there are some tasks that are an integral part of your journey. These might be tasks you just won’t enjoy doing. For example, if you’re still working a job, while trying to get a business off the ground like me. Or maybe you just abhor doing administrative tasks. Instead of dreading it, and saying how he has to do these tasks, he says, “I get to do this today.”
He reminds himself that these are the tasks that fund future freedom. These are the tasks that help him pave the way to my promised land. There are monotonous necessities that remain present in every exciting journey to greatness. But they are a means to an end. Because of the job you do, you have the opportunity to make money, in order to fund the things that are really are your true calling.
2. Give yourself Permission to Do stuff that hasn’t Already Defined you
I’m a big supporter of giving yourself permission to do stuff. I’m also defiant of labels. We all grew up with plenty of labels. Personally, I was the ‘quiet, everyday Chinese girl.’ So I was almost ridiculed for doing stuff that ‘quiet, Chinese girls’ don’t do: sports, weight-lifting, curse like a trucker (again another label)… Now, it almost has the reverse effect on me.
I almost seek to do things that ‘quiet every-day Chinese girls’ don’t do. Screw it. Who cares. But more importantly, I realized that while I might have heard it from one or two people, the rest of the labeling I actually perpetuated in my head. Life’s too short not to live out loud.
What I’m trying to say is give yourself permission to try something new. Do something you haven’t ever done before. Last summer, I put on a Zumba class for my client’s building. While I had a core group of folks come out, there were always folks who were timid to try. “Can you imagine? Me doing Zumba? I have two left feet! What would people think?” Newsflash. You have only one left foot. I promise. When you can get over yourself and the labels you place on yourself, you give yourself the permission to try new things. It’s when you try new things that you get new perspectives on your normal realm of expertise. That’s creativity. Steve Jobs once said that Apple is the intersection between technology and design. In that
“Can you imagine?”
“Me doing Zumba?”
“I have two left feet! What would people think?” Newsflash. You have only one left foot. I promise. When you can get over yourself and the labels you place on yourself, you give yourself the permission to try new things. It’s when you try new things that you get new perspectives on your normal realm of expertise. That’s creativity. Steve Jobs once said that Apple is the intersection between technology and design. In that
Newsflash. You have only one left foot. I promise. When you can get over yourself and the labels that are self-imposed, you give yourself the permission to try new things. It’s when you try new things that you gain new perspectives, and expand your normal realm of expertise. That’s creativity. Steve Jobs once said that “Apple is the intersection between technology and design.” In that famous Stanford commencement speech of 2005, he recounted all the seemingly unrelated courses and activities he did in his college years. Later on, he was able to draw from his random experiences like incorporating beautiful typography for Apple’s first word processing application. It then became the first word processing application to use fonts.
3. Climb the Waterfall
The other day Lawrence and I were discussing how nice it would be to go on vacation with my parents again. But this time, he said, let’s not make them climb a waterfall. He was referring to the cruise that we took last January. I might have been a little overzealous in booking our shore excursions. I ended up booking excursions where we swam with dolphins, spent a day at the beach, and the pride and joy of Jamaica: climbing the river falls. There were 7 of us, Lawrence, me, my 4yr. old preschooler, my sister and her husband, and my parents who averaged some 70 years old.
In my defense, I honestly remembered it not being that intense when I first experienced it 20 years ago. When we arrived, they walked us to the bottom of the falls. We gazed up at the ominous rush of water pounding down the rocks. We exchanged looks as we saw the Chinese tourist stick his smartphone in a Ziploc bag. (Good luck with that!) As we looked up to the multitudes of tourists making their way up the slippery rocks, hand in hand, my son suddenly burst into tears. It was the cutest thing ever. I have to say, he and my elderly parents made a valiant effort before bailing a third of the way through at the first exit. Then they happily watched as the rest of us climb the remaining two-thirds of the falls. They cheered as we carefully negotiated the huge boulders, water gushing down, trying to wash us away.
Looking back, it was tough for my parents. But they came out with huge smiles and a sense of accomplishment! I was impressed at how they gave it a legitimate go, before exiting the course. It became a story we regaled for the remainder of the cruise. What I picked up from this? Challenge yourself. Even if it seems daunting, give yourself permission to stretch.
I was so impressed how my parents were such great sports and how they enthusiastically participated in all the shore excursions. It’s not anything remotely close to what they would have done left to their own devices. Sometimes it’s good to nudge ourselves out of that comfort zone. Then you get that tickly feeling of euphoria and accomplishment. After all, as they say… YOLO, baby.
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