“Fun is the purest form of enjoyment and happiness. It’s for workaholics and dream chasers, it’s for curious kids and responsible adults. It’s for all of us.”
When was the last time you did something for yourself? Like, just for yourself, to make you smile and feel happy?
Mine was this morning. When I woke up, brewed a pot of coffee and read a book during the quiet hours of the morning, enjoying and savoring each page and really tasting each sip of coffee. That activity used to be out of the ordinary for me. I’d sleep in until the last possible minute, and then rush myself to get ready. Throwing my body into the shower, and hurrying out the door in a mad dash to get to work on time. I’m not like that anymore.
I know how hard it is to make yourself a priority, because if you’re anything like me, you get so caught up in your work and your relationships that you forget to really take care of yourself. You can make sure you’re fed, and have enough sleep, but you might forget to actually take time for yourself to do things that make your heart happy. It’s easy to do, to just survive, as you try to make sure your basic needs are met. You stop listening to your heart as it tells you what it needs, and you focus solely on your mind, as it tell you to keep working towards whatever goal your chasing. And you know what? That kind of behavior catches up with you. I know, because it caught up with me.
But things are different now. And a huge reason for that change is because one day in December I decided to participate in the 30 Day Fun Challenge. I had time off from work for the first time in a year, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was feeling lethargic and intimidated by the things going on in my life. So I sought reprieve, and I found it in the form of a social media challenge. The challenge gave me a way to get through my frustration and sadness and eventually I walked out on the other side more in touch with my own emotions than I’d ever been.
I started small, by focusing on little activities that weren’t necessarily hard. Doing things like cooking a nice dinner for myself with a new recipe, or spending the evening filling in the pages of my new coloring book. Then I forced myself to get out of my apartment. I went to the beach just to read a book, and invited friends out to explore the city and take photographs. I tackled intimidating craft projects and redecorated my living room. I convinced my brother and sister to go out with me, and we tried new food and visited places we’d never been before.
It felt so good. And even though there were days that were harder than others, I still managed to get through 30 straight days of fun. Thirty straight days of self-care and thirty days of pure enjoyment. I found joy in little things. Dancing to jazz music in the evening or spending some quality time with a cup of my favorite coffee in the morning. Tending to my garden of succulents during the afternoon and writing essays on the weekends. I went to comedy shows and sang in the shower. I did things I had always thought of doing, and I shared them with my friends and family via photos on Instagram.
And then it was over. I went back to my normal life, but I saw everything through new eyes. I appreciated my surroundings and looked forward to new experiences. And a month later, after I’d accepted a new job that relocated me to the Caribbean for two months, I put my feet in the white sand, stared at the turquoise water and realized that I needed to focus on fun again. So I challenged myself to a second round of the 30 Day Fun Challenge.
I was working, yes, but I was also having fun. Finding joy in little moments and working towards becoming a better version of myself. That work trip was hard for a lot of reasons, that really don’t need to be examined here, but one of the best things I did during those two months was stop and enjoy the small things. Like drinking a fresh smoothie, watching the sunset with friends, visiting the animal shelter on the island and sitting on the beach while my pale skin soaked up the bright sun.
The fun challenge has taught me two important things in the two times I’ve done it. First I learned how important it is to take care of myself. And then I learned that even the smallest things can bring me joy. It’s important to understand that you can have a bad day, but still think of the little moments that made you smile and filled your heart with happiness. That overwhelming work project can still be hard, but you can also look back on the sunrise from that morning and smile. You can make new friends and do things to make them feel good, and realize how much fun it is to make someone else happy.
I’ve taken the ideals of the fun challenge and let them spread to every area of my life. If I’m feeling stressed out at work, and I can spare a few minutes, I’ll head out on a quick walk. I take yoga classes on Sundays, and I bake on the weekends because it makes me feel so at ease. If I’m feeling out of sorts, I’ve come to understand that it’s time for me to choose to have fun again. So I FaceTime with my sister, or find a new place to go hiking in the morning. And all of a sudden my heart feels full again, I can breathe in without feeling that tightness in my chest.
I think having fun is something we forget about because it feels like it’s a thing only kids should prioritize. That maybe fun is only for people without responsibilities or goals. But it’s not. Fun is the purest form of enjoyment and happiness. It’s for workaholics and dream chasers, it’s for curious kids and responsible adults. It’s for all of us.
Finding fun in your life doesn’t have to be hard, you just have to be willing to look for it. And I’m willing to bet that the 30 Day Fun Challenge will help you find it.
Josie is a freelance television producer living in Los Angeles. In her free time she writes essays and recipes for her blog Sugar & Satire and eats pounds and pounds of vegan desserts.