We are least likely to have fun are between 35 and 50, when we are juggling mortgage, kids and career.
We are least likely to have fun are between 35 and 50, when we are juggling mortgage, kids and career. Jupiter Images

Are we having fun yet?

F-U-N. It only has three letters, but it might as well be a four-letter word.

Suggest to your boss that work should be fun, or to your partner that fun might come before other commitments, and you might have a bit of convincing to do.

Says motivational speaker and author for Get In the Go Zone, Mark McKeon: "We don't put the real value on fun. In fact we have developed quite a puritanical attitude towards it.

"Yet having fun is like pressing the control-alt-delete buttons. It's a reset, a great stress relief. It actually creates a physiological response that includes a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate and it helps you breathe more deeply."

And scientists agree. When people in a study were assessed on how frequently they engaged in 10 different types of leisure activities, those who spent ample amounts of time having fun also had lower blood pressure, a slimmer waist, a smaller body mass index, and lower levels of the health-damaging stress hormone cortisol.

The funsters also reported better physical function than the all-work-and-no-play crowd.

Just one more solid argument for shortening that to-do list and finding something fun to do each day.

Full time TAFE fashion teacher Cheryl Amore, of The Channon, has been playing social basketball at Lismore Basketball Stadium in Keen Street for 10 years.

"We have no referee, there are no teams and we don't count the score," she says.

"It is just about fun."

The group, which varies between 20 and 30 people one night a week, was started by basketball parents who thought why should all the kids have all the fun, says Cheryl.

"Often adults, especially women, don't make an effort to do something for fun. Family or work commitments come first. Our group is as much about laughing as playing and that's just as valuable as the fitness part."

Professor Roger Patulny, a sociologist at the University of Wollongong who has published widely on social connection and time use, says that social connection is what really contributes to a sense of well being and of, well, fun.

The bad news - we're not as social as we think.

"A study involving people keeping a time diary found that if Americans lived the way we do, they would lose 45 minutes a day of pleasure," he said.

"What researchers found is that Americans spend a lot more time on "in home" leisure i.e. having people around for dinner.

"Aussies didn't do as much of that as they thought," he said.

"They also watched more unenjoyable TV."

Prof Patulny believes the ages that we are least likely to have fun are between 35 and 50, when we are juggling mortgage, kids and career.

"We need to make it easier for people to balance work and play, particularly for women.

"The danger we face is not having too much fun but doing too much work. People get really competitive and status orientated. And that's when things stop being fun."

Curator, artists and former chef Dev Lengel is the man behind the Sculpture in the Paddock at Bangalow, Sculpture at the Byron Bay Writers' Festival and SWELL Sculpture Festival at Currumbin from September 14 to 23.

It's his job to create fun and he's learned that it's connecting with each other, in this case through art, that is the secret to people having a good time.

"When people come to look at SWELL, they delight in the sculpture, the sunny day, having as hot dog or an ice cream, but also talking together about what's on show," he says.

Dev believes fun is about releasing stress and, as well as seeing something that excites or involves you, doing something yourself is key.

"Go to a drawing class, even if you can't draw, and let go of expectations," he says.

Dev himself also watches comedy shows and has a good friend with whom he can joke about life's little misses - both things McKeon says will help you push that control-alt-delete button.

So what are you waiting for. Go and have some f-u-n!


They said it

"Play. Have fun. Enjoy the game." Michael Jordan

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." Walt Disney

"Fun is good." Dr. Seuss

"People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing." Dale Carnegie

"I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun." Thomas A. Edison

"I've realized that being happy is a choice. You never want to rub anybody the wrong way or not be fun to be around, but you have to be happy." Angelina Jolie

"Have fun in your command. Don't always run at a breakneck pace. Take leave when you've earned it, spend time with your families." Colin Powell

"If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun." Katharine Hepburn

"I'll promise to go easier on drinking and to get to bed earlier, but not for you, fifty thousand dollars, or two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars will I give up women. They're too much fun." Babe Ruth

"The problem is when that fun stuff becomes the habit. And I think that's what's happened in our culture. Fast food has become the everyday meal." Michelle Obama


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