On “Fun” and “Play.”
Something I talked about in my newsletter semi-recently (and on the podcast a little bit too at some point), that has been on my mind a LOT lately, has been the concept of fun. And what we do for fun, or really… what counts as “fun.” I had listened to this episode of Glennon Doyle’s podcast and it left me in a little state of crisis as most of the things I do for “fun” revolve around eating, drinking, or self-care. According to Glennon and Abby, those things don’t actually count. Their definition of fun revolved more around the idea of “play.” As a self-described indoor kid who is just not competitive (at least in the athletic kind of way), I found myself feeling a little bit stumped.
In my younger years I tried to do more “fun” things. I was on a softball team with my friends from work but was happiest when I didn’t have to actually play. I liked wearing our cute uniforms (our t-shirts were emerald green) and I would maybe go up to hit once or twice during the game (usually striking out), and would happily skip out on playing the field. We joked that I was the designated hitter, even though I was a pretty terrible hitter too. The best part for me was going to the neighborhood bar afterward and having a drink, a snack, and getting the latest gossip (we were 23, something scandalous was always going on!).
Here are some things that I find fun:
Reading. I definitely read for fun. Walking. I also love going for walks. I love looking at and learning about art. And I really just love learning… taking a class (I love Masterclass), listening to a nerdy podcast, etc. And I actually do like to hike (a LIGHT hike, that is) here and there. I also love trying out new recipes. Whether it’s a Blue Apron recipe or teaching myself how to make a new ice cream flavor, that’s fun for me. I think the fun element is in that I know I could massively fail, so when it turns out well, I feel this amazing sense of victory and accomplishment. I love watching movies, and I love playing with my cat.
They say that if you are looking to figure out what is fun for you, thinking about the things you loved as a kid can help you figure it out.
Elizabeth Gilbert talked about this a little bit when we interviewed her. And this idea actually hit me over the head this past weekend in LA. We were hanging out at our friends’ beach club all day in Santa Monica and jumped into the ocean. We had thought maybe this would be the weekend I’d try surfing but it was too choppy and I was feeling a little nervous and intimidated. So we just jumped into the water and played for a while. Dodging waves, body surfing… just playing in the water like little kids.
I got knocked over countless times, my bathing suit was filled with sand, but I could not stop laughing and had the biggest smile on my face all afternoon. This makes sense. I grew up by the beach and always loved playing in the waves as a child. So as someone who has been stumped on the ideas of “fun” and “play,” I can attest. The things that brought you joy as a child will bring you just as much joy as an adult… maybe even more. (And it’s okay if more quiet things like reading and walking are your idea of fun, too).
How about you? Tell me how you incorporate “fun” and “play” in your own life in the comments. I want some inspiration.
I love this idea! It’s been on my mind too, letting go of thinking life is so stressful and adding joy instead. To bring back that childlike joy I’ve been cannonballing into every pool, and wearing the most outrageous outfits!!
I’ve been trying to bring a “vacation mindset” into my everyday life. For example – on vacation, I dress up more, go to farmers’ markets, go to the beach regularly, go see the sunrise or sunset, and tend to ignore the weather. For example, if we were on vacation and it was overcast and a little chilly but it was our only beach day, we would go anyway! This mindset has helped enormously for me to have more fun 🙂
Aw I love the idea of a vacation mindset! As a Virgo, this would help me – structuring play or taking on a vacation mindset so I can let loose!
This is a really great mindset. I love it!! Thank you for sharing.
I’ve always believed that “variety is the spice of life” and it’s important to try something new every week, whether it’s a recipe, a restaurant, a different exercise class, a movie or just going into a new store to shop. Do something outside of the regular routine. Give your senses something novel. Being curious is fun!
I love this, because I do love novelty! Starting something new and being a beginner is always so fun! I like the idea of trying something new each week, even though at this point in my life, I generally know what interests me/is fun. BUT there’s always something new to try/do that I haven’t experienced yet, so I definitely want to incorporate this into my life!
I am going to be honest and say that I am not a Glennon Doyle fan at all and honestly take issue with someone dictating what counts as something fun and what does not. I loved colouring as a child and still do and that is fun to me. I hated cooking as a teen and now really enjoy it and yes, I count it as fun.
I just encourage people to try new things/go new places as so much fun comes from discovering new things
Fully agree with you here, Sharon. I’m not sure what makes Glennon the authority on defining what is “fun”. I think that is a personal definition. Most importantly, it doesn’t need a definition. It’s most important to live a life that brings you joy and fulfills you and doing things that add to that.
I am SO very in agreement here. I find Glennon Doyle so annoying – although I like Abby Wambach – and I find it enraging that anyone would tell someone else what counts as fun and doesn’t. I will say that there are things I loved as a kid, but I also have no desire to go play with my Barbies! Who says self care isn’t fun?! Some of the best times I had as a kid was just hanging with my friends, so does that count if I’m out having a drink with friends now?
Are you happy? Do you enjoy your life? Then do what you want! This honestly irritates me almost as much as people who preach about their diets.
I wrote a comment and it disappeared. What I see in your photos are complete joy. I wasn’t goid at sports at all . I loved reading very young. I rescued every animal in need. I loved nursing along with boys, dancing and food snd cocktails well into my forties . I have lifetime friends . I had a farm snd horses. I played abd loved what I learned . I look at you and I think when you do what you love you are happy . I think you maybe much like me have that little bit of child. Left inside that never goes away . You are perfectly perfect as you are.
I wrote a comment and it disappeared. What I see in your photos are complete joy. I wasn’t goid at sports at all . I loved reading very young. I rescued every animal in need. I loved nursing along with boys, dancing and food snd cocktails well into my forties . I have lifetime friends . I had a farm snd horses. I played abd loved what I learned . I look at you and I think when you do what you love you are happy . I think you maybe much like me have that little bit of child. Left inside that never goes away . You are perfectly perfect as you are. Keep doing what you love and never think you are missing what others might say or what they do . Loved this article .
This post made me think back to a time when an ex-boyfriend (let’s call him that for sake of brevity) told me I should incorporate more play into my life. That’s when I started thinking about the idea of play. It’s a bit intimidating, and it’s interesting that you wrote some things we do for fun aren’t considered play (according to Glennon and Abby – which btw now I gotta listen to that podcast!) So I like the idea of using fun and play interchangeably. If I’m doing something for fun, that is considered play time for me! I have a list of all the things that makes me happy or that is fun/enjoyable for me. I naturally plan for something fun every day, as I’ve learned life is too short and unpredictable. Sometimes, I’ll even schedule a full day of fun, or a weekend of fun and that makes me feel so happy and alive! (and then I feel super refreshed on Monday morning)
Do movies and shows count haha? Here’s how I make my experience more “fun” though: I am a HUGE trivia nerd when it comes to this space. I love to read trivia, interviews, get the behind-the-scenes scoop on every show and movie I watch (not kidding). It’s such a fun party trick and always adds more to the conversation of “have you seen XX?” I get really attached to certain shows, like Mad Men, and feel like this adds a bit of a hobby layer to watching it. Other fun things: cooking, redecorating, walking, talking on the phone, reading blogs, making collages. This was a great Friday post, Grace! Xx
I loved reading this post sweetie!
I grew up loving two main pursuits — sports and art. In my adult life I hardly make time for either, but the moments when I do are really wonderful. I played college volleyball but ended up pretty burned out on it, but it’s not an easy sport to play alone. But the other day my husband and I were teaching our 5 year old twins and we decided to see if we could pepper. (Vb term for a warmup where you continuously pass/set/hit with a partner). WE DID! It was SO FUN.
Another game I grew up playing was ping pong, so we recently bought a ping pong table. Husband and I have been having epic matches. (We’re both pretty serious people by nature so games help us loosen up and relax after the kids go to bed!)
My kids love coloring and crafts. I try to participate instead of multitasking on all my mom chores because it’s so much more fun to just play and do art. I personally love coloring Disney princesses and altering the colors and fashion to be more current. It’s a more creative take on my daughter’s coloring pages.
And since I’m already rambling, I’ll share another: I grew up thrifting with my mom, and that’s something I still love to do. I make time to visit my local thrift stores whenever I can! The thrill of the hunt is fun for me.
I know you love to read (as do I), so I’m sending you this book link as something you might enjoy as you ponder the idea of fun. I listen to Annie’s podcast and love that she ends each episode with the question, “What are you doing for fun.” Her podcast name? That Sounds Fun. 🙂