“Do anything, but let it produce joy.” ― Walt Whitman
What a long ride it was from the house to the market on my little blue bicycle. Living on top of a hill meant leaving was a breeze and returning was hard work. Flying around the curves, staying close to the edge of the road to avoid the cars, we would make our way past the fields of flowers and tall grass, to arrive, hot, sweaty, and thoroughly exhausted at Ovoca Road Market. The cooler air would rush to greet us as we opened the door, as the shelves of candy and coolers of drinks seemed to be awaiting our arrival. It took a while to choose the treats that would serve as our reward for having ridden so far, and then, small brown bag in hand we would hop back on our bikes, round all of the curves, avoid the cars, and push our bikes back up that big hill. That, my friends, was fun. As I let Whitman’s words sit on my brain for a minute, I know the result of long bike rides in the hot summer, that sometimes ended in scraped knees and tired legs, were not unlike the days I am having now — tiring, time-consuming, and full of joy. We can be doing any number of things with our time, and we should make every effort to allow it produce joy.
A lady I met several years ago is often posting photos on her social media page of her latest project — painting a room, painting a piece of furniture, cultivating a beautiful garden, making all manner of wonderful things for others to enjoy. She works hard. She often looks like she is worn out. She always remarks how much she enjoys what she’s doing, though. Isn’t that the choice we get in life? We can do work around the house, weed the flower bed, spend hours preparing a meal that will be eaten in 15 minutes, and we can complain about it the entire time, or we can choose for it to produce joy. If you and I choose joy, others will enjoy our presence so much more.
“Research shows that when we have fun with others, these experiences have a positive effect on building trust and developing communication. Having fun gives us an opportunity to connect and be creative. When we laugh together, this sends an external non-verbal message that says: “We are alike, we share values” (Everett, 2011).” (Rucker) In fact, there is research that shows how having fun positively impacts so many parts of our lives that it begs the question, Are you having fun?
Maybe your first thought is, “Gosh, Susan, I’m too busy to worry about having fun.” or “I’m broke, working two jobs, and need to buy my kid some new shoes. Where’s fun supposed to fit?” I get it. Life is full of some not very fun moments, but the value to our psyche is so great that we really need to make ‘fun’ a priority. In fact, my granddaddy used to say, “Have a little fun every day.” If life isn’t feeling fun for you right now, let’s see if we can work together to find your fun.
That last item is the one that is probably most important. It’s difficult to have fun when we let things bother us, and these days it seems easier than ever to let things get under our skin. My time has been occupied by a big project the past few months, and I end my days very tired — and full of joy. My husband noticed how tired and unavailable I was one day and said, “You’re so busy, don’t forget to take some time out for yourself.” I wasn’t sure what to say at first, but my response was simple and heartfelt: “I’m having so much fun!” I said. It’s amazing how having fun brings that good tired and produces so much joy.