The Psychology of FUN

When we think of the word fun, we think frivolous acts of non-work. However, I would venture to say that fun does equal productive work. Fun is worthy of our time. Fun is drawing us into our very own creativity, and we will produce our purpose and share this joy with others as much as we possibly can. Psychological studies have proven the productive value of fun.

Hear me out for a moment…

I would have to argue that this new phrase, which I just made up, is the new working norm. this phrase is, ‘working in our fun zone.’ If we forget to work in our fun zone, we tend to dread and even skip work altogether.

Mental health days have become the new way to no longer dread going to work. While at times we do need mental health days, I can safely say that if we enjoyed our work, we would need these days much less.

When work becomes simply, ‘work,’ we are not capable of ever having fun because it will change our attitude toward everything. It is not safe to dread our work. Our mental stability counts on our souls finding joy, fun, and enjoyment.

When we hear the saying “all work and no play, makes Joe a dull boy,” what do we think of?

It is a very true statement!  

All work and no play will equate to a very dull existence. Who strives to be dull? Not me, and I can tell, from you reading this article, not you either. You would rather enjoy yourself and figure out what ‘fun’ means to you, right?!

Finding out what we enjoy must not feel like work. It must bring us joy to find our joy. What this means is that during our search for fun, joy and whatever we enjoy, must be fun too. This goes for what we do for a living also.

We tend to enjoy ourselves more when we can find joy in our work. It might sound funny, but we need to develop techniques for finding joy in our work (Johnson, 2020). When we think of joy, we may not automatically think of psychology. However, in positive psychology (coaching), finding joy is an integral facet for being productive (Pawelski, 2020). Therefore, finding joy should be fun and include ways to be productive, especially with our creative side.

“But I’m not the creative type, Christine.” Phooey, everyone is creative in something (Mulaomerovic, E., Wang, Markovic, 2019; Ueland, 2011; Yang, 2020). Whether it is in creating charts, worksheets, architecture, engineering, research pathways, developing programs, creating software, writing, painting, drawing, sculpting, etc. we are all creative. Find your joy, fun, and enjoyment in whatever you are good at creating as soon as possible.

Since some theories behind the psychology of fun include positive psychology, it is necessary to work with someone to share the processes on the journey and adventure for having fun (Carr & Nacjman, 2017; Johnson, 2020; Mcmanus & Furman, 2010; Pawelski, 2020). It is not always well received that positive psychology/coaching is a serious division of the field of psychology (Pawelski, 2020). However, after several decades of success, positive psychology/coaching has proven necessary to build fun into our creativity.

Having a ‘creative coach’ is no longer the taboo that it used to be. We need people to come alongside of us to share in our adventure and especially when it comes to creativity and productivity. Yes, I am a coach. But I would be a supporter for coaching even if I were not one myself because we all need a push here and there to move from where we are to where we need to be.

Working hard must become a thing of the past. Have you ever heard the phrase, working smarter, not harder? There is a reason behind this statement (first mentioned by Allen F. Morgenstein, 1930). The reason is that when we work harder, we get tired and nonproductive faster. When we work smarter, we find time for fun.

When we ask someone, “are you working hard or hardly working?” we expect them to reply that they are working hard. Or we think, “Oh crap, they had better get back to work before anyone notices that they are having too much fun.”

Nonsense! Work needs to be fun and enjoyed (Mulaomerovic et al., 2019; Yang, 2020). Otherwise, dread mingles in and we are grinding away at our work as it is grinding away at our soul.

That does not sound like fun to me, how about you?

Fun should be, well, a fun word. Not a dreaded word. Why do we associate the word fun with negativity instead of a childlikeness, joy, and even playing around? Because we have been programmed to believe that if we are having fun, we are not being productive.

This is nothing but a bunch of hooey!

Studies show that when people allow themselves to have fun, they are more likely to be productive (Michel, Tews, & Allen, 2019; Mulaomerovic et al., 2019). Productivity has been associated with fun, enjoyment, and joy for many decades (Mulaomerovic et al., 2019; Yang, 2020). Fun is meant to be enjoyed and not simply during vacation and downtime. Work is to be enjoyed also.

Think about it for a minute…

If you are not having fun, there is a sense of struggle and fear might even step in. When you are having fun, your creative juices flow and you begin to create, either in your mind, through your hands, on paper, or any another medium. Play, which is another ‘fun’ word, should include ways to utilize your creative side in fun ways (Brown, 2010). When I am bored, I find my thoughts wandering and my attempt to return to my productivity is usually futile unless I remember how to have fun with it.

When I am having fun, I find myself in need of a notebook, right away. Why? Because suddenly, I am thinking about researching, writing, reading, or whatever creative vehicle might be nearby. This is how fun draws out our creativity and our fun.

Mature happiness is another way to view the psychology of fun and/or joy (Bekoff, 2014; Bowers, 2019). Mature fun (Bowers, 2019) is what the author of Play considers ‘a purpose of fun’ (Bowers, 2019). We need to find our purpose to have fun, or we might as well kill our own soul right now.  

For instance, my ‘purpose of fun’ is creative writing and research. I can (almost) always find joy, fun, and true enjoyment when I am conducting research and/or writing creatively. The (almost) part is the marketing portion of creative writing, but I am learning how to find my fun in this facet of creative writing also.

Even though mature happiness is important, we must remember to return to our childlikeness and find ‘fun’ in our daily routines. I know, I know, routine and fun in the same sentence. Well, I argue that it is ‘fun’ to keep a daily routine which includes as much fun as necessary to continue to be productive.

Why should we feel guilty for having fun?

Why should we forget how to have fun to be productive?

That’s simply ridiculous, right?!

When I have something that ‘needs’ to get done at a certain time, I try to remember to smile through the process. I even tell myself jokes, if necessary. When I smile, it’s more difficult to focus on the unfun process. I even get more done this way.

No, I’m not kidding. Try it for a week, “smile through the pain” of routine productivity and it becomes ‘fun’ productivity. In Stuart Brown’s Play (2010) text, he suggests that a smile is the sign of wanting to ‘play.’ I add to this and suggest that a smile will create the necessary ‘fun’ to get through our routines, jobs, and all dreaded tasks.

Sometimes even the anticipation of fun will get us motivated and creative. Have you ever noticed that when you think about vacations, you can usually find your smile? With this newfound smile, you can usually find some productivity and finish your work.

However, there are times when we are dreading vacations. Has this ever happened to you? The reason behind this dread is that we are already anticipating the work (packing, getting the kids ready, the dog ready, making other arrangements) and this becomes ‘work’ instead of ‘fun.’

Traveling can be so much fun. And we can even make travel part of our ‘working fun.’ When I am traveling, I tend to really take in the atmosphere. How many times have we missed things because we are too busy trying to ‘remain focused?’ This is very sad, not fun.

All the above dreaded things can be made into ‘fun’ things by changing our attitude and finding our joy, fun and enjoyment in these things. Smile to find your purpose and fun (Brown, 2010). Smile for vacation prep.

Seriously… turn your frown upside down and smile during these dreaded tasks and see how things will change into fun.

Now, go and have a fun filled vacation!

Wait, wait, wait, not yet. There’s more. I forgot not to suggest you leave yet. Ha made you smile. Hurry create now, just made you lose your smile right? Well, since you already know where my fun comes from… writing. Stay with me for a little while longer.

As mentioned before, one of my fun things to do is to write. When I have a new project there are certain fears which try to arise, and I must remember to smile during these processes. I must also remember that having fun is very productive and causes creative moments which could create an entire book filled with FUN!!!

There are some authors who believe that to find true joy and to have fun, one must schedule creative times (Johnson, 2020). I argue that most fun needs no scheduling. To be truly honest, most fun and joy cannot be scheduled. The scheduling process is necessary though.

So, what can we do to make the scheduling and schedules fun, you say?

I say that when we understand that scheduling creates the ‘purpose’ we need to focus better. Focus causes more ‘time’ to find our joy, fun, and enjoyment. Therefore, utilizing schedules to create more time also causes us to find more time for our fun.

My most fun days have mostly been while writing. It did not matter if it were my wedding song, our grocery list, a poem, a paper, and now books, I have always been in my zone when I am writing.

I was usually met with naysayers who did not believe that I could “make a living” out of writing and therefore, it should simply be a hobby. Well, these people meant well, I am sure, but I am on my way to making a living with writing just as Brenda Ueland (2011) mentions in her book, If you want to write, I must remember that I am talented and should listen to the Holy Ghost (Spirit) and not people.

I am talented enough to share my creativity with as many people as I like. I find my fun in even knowing this. The psychological fun is that I can prove my value through the written word and then help others with my written word to find their fun.

Yay, this is so exciting to me!

Another issue I have about naysayers and people who expect too much of us is that when we get distracted (squirrel – shiny), this means that our brains NEED fun to create… right then, right now. Even if it is to create something in our mind, we can write it down, but maybe it was simply meant for our very own FUN!!!

Now it is your turn. You need to write down what you find ‘fun.’ Then, you need to put together a fun and workable schedule to accomplish your fun.

What will it take to change careers?

How can I simply leave my good paying job?

How will I make money?

Who will help me through this process?

Remember, this author is also a coach.

Let’s work this out together.

Below is all my contact information… use it and we will begin our journey toward finding ‘YOUR’ fun!!!

May you find your fun and joy and be blessed always,

Christine C. Sponsler

6 Comments

  1. I fully agree with the point you make about having fun. Too be honest though, it does not take a million words to get the message across, I got it after the first four paragraphs. I sped read the rest.
    While the meaning of the word ‘fun” has all kinds of connotations, I believe the word “enjoy” is more relevant when it comes to work. I have taught teenagers for the last 10 years or so and I have always stressed that they should enter the workforce doing something they enjoy. I ask them, what do you like doing? They also need to understand that it is not necessary to have a university degree to do worthwhile and fulfilling work that pays the bills, They should just do something they enjoy. The world would be a happier place.
    In any event, what are we all chasing? If you are content, you are also happy. If you are happy, you are also content. What more could anyone ask for? So, take up work you enjoy!
    Regards, Phil

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyed this article. Totally agree with making what you do for a living fun. Since I started doing that a few years back, the difference between a Monday & a Saturday are simply different days of the week :) Both are fun in there own way now.

    Liked by 1 person

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