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The Ingredients of Fun

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I hope spring is springing for you.  I’ve been able to get back to going to my local park in the mornings and reacquaint myself with the dog walkers.  We don’t really know each other.  But we see each other, say hello and maybe wish each other a good day.  It’s a small thing.  But it counts, I think.

I enjoyed this TED talk by Catherine Price on the importance and ingredients of fun and play. 

Fun is not only a result of thriving, it’s a cause.  Fun

  • is energising
  • brings us into present
  • unites us
  • improves health through relaxation and connection
  • makes us happy.

Catherine describes “true fun” as a combination of

  • Playfulness – not taking ourselves too frikkin’ seriously
  • Connection – having a special shared experience
  • Flow – being engaged in the present

Compare this to distractions and numbing:  Much social media, mediocre TV, rolling news.  They’re like junk-food fun.  It feels like a release for a moment but can feel empty afterwards.  I enjoy watching a series on Netflix for example (currently Loudermilk).   But if I watch too much or it’s not very good, I feel annoyed afterwards at wasting the time. 

Fun, as she points out, isn’t an activity.  It’s a feeling.  You can’t force it.  But you can cultivate the conditions for it. Don’t jam yourself up by trying to cultivate the ingredients perfectly. Experiment with ways to add 10% more.


  • Take the pressure off.  Like in class when we cheer “It doesn’t matter!”  Most things don’t.
  • Ask yourself “What would this look like if it was fun?”  
  • Break a few rules
  • Be curious

Connection – Modern life tends to make us isolated.  Find ways to connect with others more.  Interact with people in real life. 

Flow – Reduce distractions*, simplify, do one thing at a time, try to avoid being “half in half out”.  As Alan Watts says, you only have to wash one dish at a time: This one.

Ultimately – to prioritise fun.

Even though fun and joy are some of the deepest experiences in life, we often leave them to chance, hoping they’ll occasionally happen.  You can’t force fun.  But notice people or activities that brings you joy and make time for them in your diary. Notice where you can add more of the three ingredients and see what happens.

Meditators often say “Enlightenment is an accident. But we can make ourselves more accident-prone.”  Fun is like that.  You can’t guarantee it.  But you can create the conditions for it (and you) to thrive.

And – if you’re called to it, come to an improv class where we deliberately cultivate all three ingredients at the same time. 

PS One of the ways I’ve been building more fun into my work is through collaborations.  Most recently with the wonderful Lex at Pleasure Rebels (more on this soon), various in-house sessions, parties, and a while back with the amazing Aisha Fakhro in Bahrain.  If you’d like to do something together, give me a shout.

* “A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind” as the well known paper goes (TED talk version here)

Sitting quietly Doing nothing
Spring Comes
And grass grows by itself.


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