Susan Steen

Susan Steen

“I am going to keep having fun every day I have left, because there is no other way of life. You just have to decide whether you are a Tigger or an Eeyore.” – Randy Pausch

My granddaddy used to say something along the lines of You need to have a little fun every day. When life is going well, the bills are paid, there’s food in the pantry, and your family is healthy, it’s pretty easy to have a little fun every day, but when any of those things (and worse, if all of those things) isn’t going according to your plans, it’s easy to feel down, sometimes dangerously depressed.

That seems to be perhaps the most important time to decide whether you will be Tigger or Eeyore, whether you will choose to have fun or choose to be doom and gloom. Pausch was right -- there really is no other way of life, if you want to enjoy life, that is.

The storms awakened me in the middle of the night. This time, we did not have tornadoes, but they had them just down the road. Life is full of storms, both literally and figuratively, and when you are in a storm, it’s pretty difficult to think about having fun. But being able to have fun in the midst of storms is probably the key to surviving them.

Having fun in life matters. Look to the experts to explain.

Want to get along with people better? Conflict resolution is a more certain thing when you are able to have fun, according to a study by Gottman Research Center. Specifically, they found that couples who are able to have fun together tend to stay together.

If you’ve ever heard someone talk about having a problem with their hormones, it might be that they could have a little fun and help themselves. In studies by Koelsch et al (2013) and Abbenhardt et al (2016), there was a correlation found between doing something you enjoy (physically or musically) and an improvement in health, specifically related to hormones. Whether having fun at work and benefiting the customers and the company or having fun in your personal life, it’s proven that having fun lowers stress levels, which raises good health.

My favorite study looked at laughter and stress. (Kuiper, N.A., Martin, R.A.) For three days, the participants in the study kept a record of their laughter, and each day they recorded the stressful events in their life, along with the positive and negative effects they felt. The research showed that those who had more laughter had a lower negative effect from the stressful events in their lives. Our stressful events might not change, but our ability to laugh each day is proven to change how those events are impacting us.

The part that might be more difficult for any of us is the ‘how to have fun’ aspect of this topic. Sure, we can tell a joke, watch a funny movie, or laugh at ourselves (all good choices), but how do we have fun when life is not fun at all? Is it really possible?

Yes, it’s possible. Even when we are sad, it is possible. Especially when we are sad, it is necessary. The alternative is to allow ourselves to become sadder, angrier, and more isolated from other people. None of that is healthy. None of that will help us have better relationships, live happier lives, or be more successful in our work.

If we’re going to have a little fun, we might want to understand what ‘having fun’ means.

Live a little

Delight in

Savor

Enjoy

Kid around

Kick up your heels

Here are some ways I’ve seen those synonyms come to life:

I love hiking and taking in the beauty of nature. I delight in the smells, the details, and I sometimes have to laugh at myself as I find I’m huffing and puffing. Sometimes, it’s nice to walk alone and then there are times it’s so much fun to walk with a friend. Laughter just comes naturally.

Talking on the phone isn’t something I do often because I feel the pull of so many other tasks to be done, so when I do put aside my to do list and visit, I find that laughter comes, along with enjoyment of taking time to hear about someone else’s day or life.

My mother and younger son have an ongoing joke about April Fool’s Day. They are just kidding around, but they talk about it all year, which is where most of the fun comes, though talking about the year he thought she cleaned his room while he was away continues to make me laugh.

Our older son makes time to eat with my mother each week. They both enjoy the conversation and the relationship is strengthened. I believe they savor those times.

Working hard when she’s at her job, our daughter-in-law plays hard in her off time. She hikes, climbs, runs, paints, and cooks — her life is about more than her job. She teaches me to live a little by putting myself out there to do more than the things I must do.

Every now and then, we go to an event to support a cause or listen to live music. I put on a hat that makes me feel happy, and we do, indeed, kick up our heels for a little bit. Coming back to our everyday lives feeling revived and a little less stressed.

Life is full of reasons to be aggravated, frustrated, sad and even depressed. You and I have all of the tools to bring a little fun into our lives, though, and change how the circumstances make us feel. Dance with a child, play hide and seek, laugh for no reason. Fun is right there if you choose it.

In the words of a fun-loving Tigger, Well, I better be bouncing along now, chum! Cheerio! Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo! TTFN Ta-ta for now!

Susan Black Steen is a writer and photographer, a native Tennessean and a graduate of Austin Peay State University. With a firm belief that words matter, she writes and speaks to bring joy, comfort and understanding into each life. Always, she writes from her heart in hopes of speaking to the hearts of others.

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