Sports and competition have always been a part of my life. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are on a ball field, either playing or being there watching my dad play. (When I was at my dad’s games, I got to be the bat boy! That is HUGE when you are a little feller!) Most people I know, in my generation, were a part of a team or group growing up. Sport and competition teaches us so many lessons that we can take with us later in life. You could probably spout this list off without thinking about it: teamwork, dependability, trust, resolve, and so on. One lesson that we learn may not come directly from sports or competition but is generally re-enforced by our loved ones. If you are unsure if anyone said it to you, there is a high likelihood that you have said it someone… “Whatever you do, go out there and have fun.”
Have fun! It’s a lesson we try to instill in our children at an early age. For the most part, we don’t care if our kids are the best or most athletic (though we may love it if they were). We want our kids to enjoy themselves and just have a good time in the things that they do. That’s what our family wanted for us when we were younger. After right and wrong, it is one of the first things we teach our children, realize it or not.
Fast forward 20 years or so, and we have all but minimized the importance of that singular life lesson. Schedules get busier, work deadlines grow closer, bills start piling up, and we find ourselves focusing on the “hectic”, all the while neglecting an important aspect of life. One that, if exercised properly, could help ease the chaos.
Here are 3 things we need to understand about FUN:
- Fun can reduce stress. I think we all can relate to this. Ever had a rough day or week and then be invited to go out with friends/loved ones and unwind? Or maybe you cut out early and play nine holes at the golf course? After hanging with friends, or whatever fun activity you do, have you ever said to yourself, “Man, I needed that.” Studies show that in having fun, our bodies release chemicals that fight the “stress hormone”. Simply put, having fun can reduce your stress.
- Fun fosters better family relationships. My wife and I have two children. Their whole life revolves around food and fun. When I get out and play with them, our conversations immediately change. I am no longer just dad. I become their buddy, their friend. I start learning more about them and the fun ideas they have. In many cases, I get to see their brains work in ways I may otherwise miss if we weren’t having fun together. And, THEY DON’T FORGET THE FUN TIMES WITH DAD.
- Fun fosters better work relationships. In our company, one of our core values is fun. We have an area set aside in our building loaded down with games, books, and, most importantly, a ping pong table. That “fun room” has provided countless opportunities for people on different teams to come together in a fun way and interact in a manner that the business of the day simply does not provide. Communication has increased. Cross functional cooperation has improved. And a genuine respect and appreciation for other departments is steadily growing in our company, simply because individuals are taking the time to have a little fun together.
Look, we have all heard the cliché “Life is short”. You may agree with that or not, but if we neglect taking the time to have fun in our lives, the “hectic” will take over. And we will miss out on opportunities to enjoy our time here on earth, however long or short.