Is This Fun to You?

Of all animal species, humans are the biggest players of all.

The Guilt of Play

Sometimes we feel guilty that we play too much.

We think we are selfish if we play. We’re not being productive. Not efficient. Not contributing anything to society.

Other times we feel guilty that we aren’t playing enough.

Too much work leads to irritability and exhaustion and, eventually, ineffectiveness.

But there’s a third possibility for guilt concerning play. Sometimes we feel guilty if what we enjoy is different from what others enjoy.

Is This Fun?

On a sight-seeing drive through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Jeff and I climbed higher. We were leaving behind dry ground, and encountering more snow. And more snow. And even more.

Yes, it was beautiful. But as the roads became more narrow and more covered, I became more anxious.

Finally, I heard myself saying my thoughts out loud, “This isn’t fun anymore.”

Now if we had an object at the top of a mountain that we had to reach—a sick child or an important meeting—that would be one thing. Perhaps push on. Do the hard thing.

But if the only goal was pleasure, and it felt like torture, can we stop now?

Welcome Play, Your Way

In my year of Welcome, my July goal has been:

“Welcome Rest and Play” and “Let Go of Exhaustion and Productivity.”

I’m thinking I may need a repeat. I’m not sure I’ve done it.

Unless . . . I change my definition of rest and play.

How do you play? If you have a day to yourself, what do you do? Is it the same thing that your partner would do? Or your kids?

Gretchin Rubin uses these three tests for fun:

  1. I look forward to it.
  2. I find it energizing, not draining.
  3. I don’t feel guilty about it later.

What if, instead of measuring play by what others enjoy, we give ourselves permission to frame play as uniquely as we each are?

“Only recently had I grasped one of my most important Secrets of Adulthood: just because something was fun for someone else didn’t mean it was fun for me—and vice versa. There are many things that other people enjoy that I don’t.”
– Gretchin Rubin

God made us with individual pleasure points.

“When we play, we are engaged in the purest expression of our humanity, the truest expression of our individuality.”
– Stuart Brown, M.D.

When we rest and play in our own ways, we come away more relaxed. More grateful. More worshipful.

And actually more productive, not less, when we do begin our work again.

“Play is a catalyst. The beneficial effects of getting just a little true play can spread through our lives, actually making us more productive and happier in everything we do.”
– Stuart Brown, M.D.

Back on the mountain, Jeff saw my tension. He knew my lack of fun on the mountain would soon outweigh his enjoyment of it.

He found a place to safely turn around and head back down the mountain instead of up. My mood lifted immediately.

Now I was ready to play again.

And eventually fly home on Southwest Airlines. Part of their mission statement is: “People rarely succeed at anything unless they are having fun doing it.”

Enjoy this clip of how a Southwest Airlines employee makes flying fun.

[click here if you can’t see the video]

* * *

How do you play? In what ways is it different or similar to others? (Does it include Pokémon GO? That’s a “no” for me.) Please share in the comments.


36 thoughts on “Is This Fun to You?

  1. Michele Morin

    Those three tests for play are so insightful.
    Hmmm . . . I guess I play when I’m doing things with my family. It really doesn’t matter what it is. It’s more fun when the mob is all here!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m not surprised at your answer, Michele. I can imagine you as a very fun mom of boys. I don’t know what I would have done if God had given me sons instead of daughters! ha.

  2. Kia Stephens

    Lisa, I confess, I am Martha and not Mary. I’m naturally driven and find it difficult to rest and just have fun. I think I feel like I will be behind but I am certain that even if I worked one full week with no sleep I would still be behind. Part of me knows I was made like this but another part says I need to work on this – and I will. The video was cute. Be blessed! – Kia

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I can be Martha at times too, Kia. I have a crazy to-do list every day, most of it with self-imposed tasks (although many of them I definitely enjoy!). But yes, even if I didn’t sleep at all, I’d never cross everything off that list. God knew what he was doing when he said that we need to make ourselves rest at frequent intervals. Thanks for stopping in!

  3. Liz

    Maybe I’m weird, but writing meets all those requirements for me. Taking and experience or a story and fleshing out a lesson fills me UP! And creating pretty things from a pile of craft supplies. Hmmm… Maybe I need to work on finding another hobby!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think your hobbies sounds wonderful, Liz! Nothing wrong with being productive AND having fun at the same time. 🙂 Writing meets those three criteria for me, too. If that’s fun to us, then all the better. 🙂

  4. patti

    I would be right there with ya on that mountain road. They bring out the anxiety in me too. We laugh about it now, but several years ago, I had a major panic attack when we were driving on one.

    Pokemon Go is a “no” for me as well, but I need to remember that just because I don’t see the fun in it, it’s okay if others do. I mean, someone is not “wrong” or “weird” if they like something I don’t like. But, on the flip side, it really is okay if I don’t like what they do. It all comes down to preferences, and we need to give one another grace to be different.

    One way I play differently than others is that I watch old movies (30’s, 40’s, and some 50’s). I don’t care if I ever see a modern movie. Most of my friends don’t get that. But it’s just my preference.

    Anyhow, great thoughts, and I love the quote from Gretchen Rubin.

    Patti @ Embracing Home

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, that’s the attitude, Patti. It’s okay if our fun looks different than somebody else’s (and definitely not mountain roads for us! ha), and likewise it’s fine if what someone else enjoys isn’t fun to us. No judging. And if old movies are your thing, that’s great because they’re definitely much cleaner and much less violent than today’s offerings.

  5. June

    Play = anything creative or contemplative for me! Great post, Lisa! I’m working at not feeling guilty when I play. I love how you’re living out your “welcome” this year, friend! Have a blessed week!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      We’re kindred spirits, June. I have to work at not feeling guilty doing the things I enjoy for fun, too. Nobody puts pressure on me except myself. That’s why I need “welcome” this year. 🙂 God always knows just what we need, far sooner than we usually do. ha.

  6. Bill (cycleguy)

    I love to play. When Eric Liddell said, “God made me fast and when i run I feel his pleasure” he understood that. I may not be the fastest man on the planet on the bike, but when I cycle I feel His pleasure. It is my go to way out of things which aren’t fun to that which is. Thanks for the “okay” to have fun Lisa. I feel better already (and hopefully the weather will give me a break today).

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh how I love that Eric Liddell quote! It has spoken to me for years. I can imagine that you do feel his pleasure when you bike. You’re a good example for the rest of us. Hope the weather is cool and cloudy for you today. 🙂

  7. Heather

    The flight attendant video cracked me up! I love to play by watching or listening to humorous stuff like that, old old movies and writing. Moving furniture and playing music also fill my tank these days though I am really guilty of not playing enough! There needs to be a good balance. Thanks for sharing! (and that icy mountain road would have been a no go for me!! Glad y’all ended up safe!)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That video made me smile, too. It’s contagious to be happy around happy people. I don’t watch much TV, but when I do watch, I prefer comedy above anything else. Hope you make time today for something fun in your own style, Heather. Thanks for sharing here!

  8. Donna Reidland

    I find doing “nothing,” even just watching TV difficult. I fold clothes, or surf the web, or whatever. But if my husband wants to watch something besides sports (he loves it if I do my thing next to him while he watches golf or whatever), I make myself stop and really “be” with him.

    Writing is “fun” for me or playing games with my grandkids. Thanks for making me think about focusing on fun more. I’m visiting today from Frog’s Lily Pad. Thanks for sharing.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m a multitasker, too, Donna. Sometimes it’s a good thing, but sometimes it’s not. You bring up a great point that our company also brings pleasure. My husband sounds like yours. Even when he is working on a hobby, he enjoys when I’m in the same room, even if I’m reading or writing. Being together itself can be fun.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, you do need to remedy that, Debbie! 🙂 Everybody deserves time doing fun things. Sometimes women are the worst at not allowing themselves to just have fun.

  9. floyd

    It could be my selfish tendencies, but I’ve never had a problem marching to the beat of my own drum in all aspects of life.

    I enjoy exercise, have over done it over the years, but I still love it. Oh, and a little writing here and there.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What an advantage to love exercising. 🙂 After all these years, I still have to force myself to exercise 3 mornings a week. It’s not torture to me, but given the option of reaping the benefits without doing it, I’d opt out.

  10. Jean Wise

    I’ve been working of finding and capturing joy this year so there has been a element of play. BUT I tend to be too serious so need a ton more. Just remember due to this post that your word was welcome. I am going to do a blog series on cultivating hospitality/a welcoming spirit. May have to ask you for some advice.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Do you think we contemplative types just tend to be more serious in general, Jean? I realize part of our play also just looks differently: reading is play to me, even though it’s something I also do for education. I don’t want to overcomplicate something as fun as play though. 🙂

      1. Jean Wise

        good point about contemplatives enjoying play differently – I guess I want something to mean something too even relaxing. yes, I read for pleasure too but often skip reading. Lately I have been more intentionally about that. Today I took my three grandkids to the park – it was a beautiful day here in Ohio – and just took it all in. fun and play. Good and meaningful way to spend time. Now to smile and laugh more….LOL

  11. Lori

    This is a great reminder that everybody sees fun a little differently. I normally enjoy playing and driving in and around the mountains is my favorite. But when I’m under a time limited, stressful move, yeah, not so much playing going on. I was just told I’ve become the drill sergeant again because of our move. Yikes! Thanks for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Drill sergeant probably isn’t the compliment you were working for. ha. Stress does add a nuance to our personalities that doesn’t show up under normal circumstances. So maybe you’re due for some of those drives in the mountains, Lori. 🙂 Hope you get some play time in the midst of the move prep!

  12. Kathryn Ross

    A compelling post and something I’ve struggled with often, feeling like I have to have some sort of constructive purpose to approve of my “play.” I’ve worked hard to overcome it–but the guilts still bite at my heels.

    There are, to be sure, certain things in our play-obsessed society that contribute to my taking a sensible look at what captivates my “play” to be sure it honors God. We must take joy in the gift, but not abuse it be allowing to to become a distraction from occupations of greater import. And, I have seen a lot of abuse in contemporary society.

    Seeking restoration in all things–“play” redeemed for innocence, goodness, and beauty.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re right, Kathryn: we can definitely see a lot of play excess in pockets of our culture. When play gets out of balance, it becomes God-dishonoring. I love your last sentence to keep it honoring instead: “Seeking restoration in all things–“play” redeemed for innocence, goodness, and beauty.” Thanks for sharing!

  13. Beth

    First of all, Lisa, it sounds like you have one sensitive, flexible and caring husband! I’m so glad he didn’t push you to “have fun” if you were feeling increasing anxiety. Secondly, I love the insights you drew from this experience. I was just talking today with my youngest about the need for rest and play instead of constantly working. He is already a “workaholic”–much to my dismay as his overly concerned mama! But he’s also young and full of enthusiasm for what he is doing and creating each day–therefore, rest and play looks different to him. Thanks for this reminder, my friend! Wise words!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Beth. To my advantage, my husband has learned through the years that he’s better off lessening my anxiety rather than increasing it. 🙂 I’m grateful. I do try to let loose and play “his” way too, but I appreciate that he never insists on it to my detriment. Our pastor had a sermon today on rest and it was a beautiful ending to this month of focusing on rest. He defined rest as also contentment, even in the middle of work. I pray that for all the workaholics in the world, including your son, that they also have peace and contentment in the midst of their work.

  14. saleslady371

    I realize I need to fly Southwest more! Haha. Love that dude. You wrote this for me. I want to be balanced and not so ultra responsible that I lack fun things every day, I like upbeat graphics or jokes. Not pedicures. When the girls want to have a fun girl’s time of it and get pedicures, I run the other way. They are not fun for me but hurt so much.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m not a pedicure person either, Mary. I’ll do my own toes, thank you very much. ha. We each enjoy life in different ways. Definitely fly Southwest when you can. They’re the cheapest where we live, but by far also the most fun. 🙂

  15. Deb Wolf

    Amen, Lisa! We are wired and gifted differently and that includes play! What great insight and an important reminder for us all! Thanks so much for sharing this at Faith ‘n Friends Blog Hop!

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