Another year is rolling around; another vain attempt to lose weight, work out more, stop smoking, drinking, eating sugar, eating meat, etc., etc., etc. Why do New Year’s Resolutions always have to focus on the negative? The reality is adding some good ole fun to your family routine will make it a whole lot easier to generate all the changes you desire for yourself. According to an article in Psychology Today, “emotional control, social competency, personal resiliency, and curiosity” accumulate through play; “recreational deprivation has been linked to criminality, obesity, and declining creativity.” Stanislav Grof, a distinguished psychiatrist, says that without play we experience “an agonizing existential crisis so grave that we lose all reference points, spiraling into childhood pathologies and eventually barbarism.” Yes, barbarism. Yikes. Time to get serious about fun.
A new year is a great time to make having fun a priority in your life.
You know you work too much; and when you do have time off, you spend it on household chores or doing things you don’t enjoy or mindless marathons of Downton Abbey or The Walking Dead. As long as the kids are quietly involved in their latest technological adventure; Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Tumblr, YikYak, Minecraft, Angry Birds, or Plants vs. Zombies, they are happy and you are happy. But are you, really? Is this what counts for fun? Where is the creativity, the spontaneity, the interaction, the release, the gosh-but-it’s-good-to-be-alive moments? The weekend goes by in a blur and next thing you know you are back at the grind.
Making time for fun for you and your family is a fantastic way to strengthen family bonds; having fun together allows you to see your children and your children to see you in a whole new light. You de-stress, you lighten up, you infuse that wasted free time with great memories and relationship builders, and you have FUN! And fun makes you a better person, all around; a better parent, a better partner, a better employee, a better citizen. Remember, no fun equals BARBARISM.
There are all kinds of things you can bring home and add to your family fun quotient; air hockey, foosball, basketball goals, game tables, dartboards, board games, play gyms, swimming pools. You can get out a deck of cards and teach your 10 year old how to play “War” or drag out “The Game of Life”. You remember that game. There are lots of board games that are suitable for kids and adults, like the Cranium series. Or you can cook dinner together, take a walk, go to a matinee, build a Lego skyscraper, scrapbook, play Wii, snuggle up on the sofa and watch a family friendly movie. Get out the photo albums (or the DVDs, if your life is reduced to those cold, silver discs) and revisit all those special moments you have had together. It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you interact, you let loose, you get your mind off work and problems and you get your mind on enjoying your family, and ultimately enjoying your life.
There is a scene in Winnie-the-Pooh (arguably one of the best philosophy books ever written) where Piglet and Pooh are talking and Piglet extols the virtues of doing nothing. And not nothing as in sitting in front of a flat screen with your hand in a bag of chips and Maury checking yet another lie detector result; Piglet tells Winnie-the-Pooh nothing means "just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering." Doesn’t that sound lovely? Just going with the flow, letting stress and worries slide off, listening to the birds singing, the sound of the wind in the trees, your children laughing, and not allowing any of the cares and concerns that are so much a part of modern life to rob you of that moment. That’s what fun is, don’t you think? Webster says fun is “lighthearted pleasure” with the emphasis on lighthearted. I think that makes a stellar New Year’s Resolution: I resolve to spend adequate time just going along, listening to all the things I can’t hear, and not bothering.