Welcome to Playground Heaven Living. Our desire is to help you live your happiest year yet in 2020. Each week we will share a simple strategy and task to complete to enhance your ability to be and stay happy. Here we go…
The first thing to remember about happiness is that it is a choice and a mindset. We can get ourselves happy whenever we so choose. It’s not always easy, but it is always possible. We chose it every day as kids, didn’t we? I guess it wasn’t a conscious chose, it was just what we did. Let’s get ourselves into that childhood mindset right now.
Take yourself back to the fourth grade. You’re 9-10 years old. You are sitting in a classroom waiting for the recess bell to ring. What are you thinking? What are you feeling?
I remember thinking, this class is so boring. I want out. I want to have some fun. I want to get out onto the playground and play. How slow can a clock move? Come on bell! Ring and set me free! And finally … it did:-)
There was so much to do, and so little time. We ran outside, quickly found our activity of the day, and got to playing. I usually chose a game like kickball, dodgeball, football, or wiffleball. Others ran to the swings, slides, monkey bars, and jungle gym. And still others gathered in groups to talk or run around chasing butterflies.
Whatever we chose to play, we had fun, and we were happy. Looking back, the main reasons for our happiness seem to have been that we were:
We were also outside and the activity involved a physical or mental challenge of some sort. We didn’t really care about outcomes. Winning or losing were not that important. We simply enjoyed the activity and the company.
It seems to follow that all we need to do to be happier now as adults is to incorporate those three points into our daily living; Actively do what we enjoy with others. We can then revive the feeling of joy we had as kids on the playground anytime we so choose. Simple! But maybe not that easy.
I realized in my less than happy days that I had forgotten how to have fun. I wasn’t playing anymore. Who has time for play as an adult? We have responsibilities. We have things to get done and to accomplish. We need to put our childish ways behind us, right? Nope, I don’t think so. In fact, I think we are less productive and effective when we forget to play and have fun along the way.
With this realization, I began to get the fun back into my life. I started by adopting a new mindset, one of fun through play, resulting in happiness. We do and become what we think about consistently. I want to have fun and be fun.
I began to see how to incorporate fun into my daily activities. I started by playing “faster” games. I timed myself doing routine tasks and attempted to get faster every day. Things like getting ready for work and performing general work activities.
Next I challenged Melanie to races and contests. Like going to the grocery store, splitting the list, first one though the checkout wins. And we developed a number of house cleaning race games as well.
Then I took it to the gym. Daily exercise had become dull and really not that much fun anymore. So I started challenging others to contests. Who can go the fastest and farthest on the cardio machines. Or who can lift the most weight, or lift it the most times. Who can hold a plank the longest or do the most sit-ups or push-ups. Endless possibilities.
It worked, going to the gym became fun again. No more putting on headphones and ignoring all those around me. Of course, it took some time to get comfortable issuing the challenges. You have to be smart about who you challenge. I looked for others who looked bored with their workouts and who seemed open to striking up a conversation. I have yet to get punched or slapped for asking. Oh, always ask with a joking around attitude and a smile.
The great thing about gym challenges is that you can make a whole lot of new friends quickly. Plus it makes you look forward to going to the gym, the time goes by faster, and you end up pushing yourself harder than you would on your own.
Once you start having fun again you will find yourself wanting to inject fun into all of your daily activities. You will also want to get others involved. Like if you are standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, ask your checkout person to race their colleague in the next aisle. If you are doing self-checkout, race the person at the register next to you.
I found that the more fun I was having, the happier I was. It built a desire for more. It created momentum and I saw opportunities for play and fun all around me. Then I decided to set my own personal recess bell every day. In addition to injecting fun into normal daily activities, I scheduled time to do something fun every day.
I went back to the keys to having fun on the playground to make a few rules. My fun had to be an active activity which involved other people, included a physical or mental challenge, and ideally could be done outside.
Things I used to do that I thought were fun were actually knocked out of the running through these rules such as: television, movies, eating out, drinking, and playing on my phone. You know, typical adult leisure activities.
I wish I could tell you that I’ve been successful in ringing the daily recess bell. I haven’t. I have a long-established habit of work first and fun later, time permitting. It never does.
I’m pledging to break that habit this year. I urge you to do the same. Make play and fun a priority, not an afterthought.
Schedule time for play every day. Set an alarm on your phone. Make plans and make it happen. Include your spouse, kids, and friends. Go for a walk, run, or bike ride. Throw, kick, shoot, and hit a ball around. Go to the playground and do the things you enjoyed as kids. The list goes on and on…
In summary, get the fun back into your life. Have some fun every single day. Incorporate and schedule play into your daily activities.
Here is your task for the week should you choose to accept it. Do something fun every day this week. For bonus points, do something different each day.
For extra credit and to give others ideas about what to do, post what you do in the Playground Heaven Living Facebook Group at least one day this week. I might even make a short video of one of mine. Feel free to do the same.
As The Three Musketeers said, “One for all, and all for one.” We are all in this getting happier mission together. Let’s make our motto, “Fun for all, and all for fun!”
To Your Happiness, Scott