We all know that fun, playing, taking time out and laughing are important. But when the chips are down, when we feel overwhelmed, low or lost, do we really prioritise these things as much as we could? In our busy Western world we’re taught to look for the quick fix cure. Fun is seen as frivolous, as an extra activity, it’s not prioritised. But what if fun is part or all of the cure? Here are 3 stories from 3 brave, creative women that show how fun can heal your emotions, your body and even your soul.
1) Fun can heal your emotions (and energy too).
Thirty seven year old Jessie is a happily married, hard working nurse and a mother of two. She often works nights, so when the rest of us are curled up in our beds, Jessie is contending with everything from strokes to vomit to paper work for 12 feet aching hours. And she loves it, wouldn’t do anything else. But back in 2005, Jessie thought she would have to give it up forever.
She got tired, totally exhausted in fact and much to her surprise she felt something that she thought wasn’t in her positive, upbeat nature-depressed.
Jessie’s name has been changed.
“Before I knew it my life consisted of being at work, being with the kids or being really tired and there was nothing else, no outlet for me….I suppose trapped is the best way to describe it although I was happy in my work most of the time and obviously happy with my husband and children…..but it took me a while to figure that out though.’
Jessie had accidentally slipped into a life of drudgery. Feeling like she had no choice, she quit her job. Reluctantly she took some time out and eventually started work in an office.
Stuart Brown M.D author of PLAY explains what might have happened to Jessie; ‘Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organised around doing the things necessary for survival….when play is denied over the long term, our mood darkens… There is laboratory evidence that there is play deficit much like sleep deficit.’
It took a while but Jessie decided to try and figure out what she needed to feel better. She began to take some classes, she did art (and got her kids doing projects with her), joined a book club and eventually met a lady who runs a drama group (where I met Jessie). With lots of nerves and much trepidation she went along. The nerves gradually gave way to enjoyment. Over 4 years later, she’s still writing scripts, song lyrics, designing costumes and singing, dancing and acting her heart out. ‘It gave me a huge lift and confidence,’ she says.
Jessie also got her energy and enthusiasm for life back and a couple of years ago Jessie was able to return to nursing but with insistence that:
‘You’ve got to fit fun into your life, it’s an integral part of being a human being and if you don’t involve it in your life in some way then there’s a part of your humanness that is missing and you’re going to feel not quite whole.’
2) Fun can heal your body.
Alternate reality computer game designer Jane McGonical and author of Reality is Broken is a striking example of this. A few years ago Jane suffered a mild traumatic brain injury.
“It was the summer of 2009., I was about halfway through writing my book, and I got a concussion. It was a stupid, fluke accident: I was standing up and I slammed my head straight into a cabinet door I didn’t realise was still open. I was dizzy, saw stars and when my husband asked me who the president was, I drew a blank.” Read more….
The resulting concussion meant that she couldn’t work, had constant headaches, nausea, memory loss, vertigo and could barely read or write. Jane’s doctor told her it would take a month to recover. One month later she was no better and the injury of the brain itself was creating ‘suicidal ideation’, in other words, a feeling of wanting to die. Jane’s doctor told her that these where the exact opposite feelings she needed to recover in fact, ‘these emotions where slowing the healing process, the brain cannot heal without positive emotion.’
She told herself that she was either going to kill herself or turn this into a game. She says, ‘When we play a game we believe that anything is possible, games make us resilient, they make hard things feel possible by provoking our optimism…’
Amazingly, she did just that. She invented a fun role playing recovery game where you give yourself a secret identity (she chose Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and recruit allies. Within a few days Jane had broken the cycle of suffering and started to recover and within a year she was fully better. She’s made the game available online, it’s called SuperBetter.
3) Fun can heal your Soul (and maybe your career too).
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I think your soul wants you to have fun, do what you love and are passionate about-life is just too short. I’ve certainly had those jobs where I’ve felt like ‘my soul is dying!’ Even if you don’t believe in a soul, I’m sure you know that feeling. Robyn Young got to know that feeling too.
Robyn is now the author of 5 highly acclaimed historical fiction titles. But to begin with she tried really hard to have a conventional career, she decided she needed to be ‘normal’. She says,
“I applied for a load of grown-up sounding jobs and got one in a building society, initially working the tills, then offering investment advice to customers. My family and friends were shocked. I had a nametag and a suit, and even stranger, maths was without doubt my least favourite thing in the entire world. I thought long-term, however, and took all the necessary steps to get me on the way to becoming a financial consultant. But something was wrong. Several months in, I started writing a novel. It was to be the first of a fantasy series.” Read more
And the rest, as they say, is history (5 novels worth). Thankfully for Robyn and her many readers, she decided to follow what was fun for her and what lit her soul.
This was true too of a client of mine who lives in New York. As a little girl, T had dreamed of working in a major fashion house. However, at 26 she found herself a single Mum stuck at the same firm for 5 years. She wondered, where the passion and the fun filled vision of that little girl was? With the support of our coaching sessions, she worked hard and 8 months later she finally succeeded in getting her dream job at Ralph Lauren.
As Jessie says, “Life without fun starts to get grey. If you involve fun in everything you do, then life is in colour.”
So, how can you heal your life with fun?
You might like to start by finding out what Fun Type you are (I developed 12 Fun Personality Types to help people find out what kind of fun suits them) by visiting my website www.TheaAnderson.com, have a Fun Report or some Fun Coaching.
Email Me: info@TheaAnderson.com
Now, go outside and play!
“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”Joseph Campbell