Episode 6: FUN

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I’m Hannah Coles and you are listening to LOVE AT HOME, episode number 6:  FUN

Welcome, welcome everyone! Today is amazing! I hope you’re all feeling it too and if not, hopefully you’ll feel it by the end of this podcast. I’ve got something good to talk to you about today. We are going to talk about FUN today. Yep, that’s right, FUN. 

Speaking of fun, this week I got called into Jury Duty and I’ll tell you, my first thought was, “What?! on my birthday? NO!” Oh yeah, today, it’s my birthday. Like, the actual DAY and not just a part of the birthday month. I had plans for today and it was just going to be awesome and exciting…until I got my jury summons. I felt a bit deflated.

Then I thought, well…if I can’t do anything about it, what’s the upside to thinking that this stinks? or groaning about it? Or in my mind, complaining and whining about it?

What does Elder Holland say, (I totally love this) “No misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.” 

So I decided that I was going to stop mentally whining about it. There’s no upside to thinking those negative, “I wish it were different” thoughts. What could I choose to think instead then? What thoughts would serve me best? What did I want even?

what do most people want on their birthday? To have fun, right? That’s what I decided to do. 

Brad Wilcox, in a talk called, “If we can laugh at it, we can live with it” once said:

“Humor helps. Humor heals.  In fact, many medical studies have linked laughter with better physical and mental health.1 Such studies confirm the scripture that states, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Prov. 17:22). Humor allows us to view our lives in a more positive light, deal with personal conflicts and intolerance, and cope with trials and frustrations that might otherwise seem overwhelming. As we are told in Ecclesiastes, there is “a time to laugh” (Eccl. 3:4)… We are all going to find ourselves in situations we have not anticipated and are not sure how to handle. If we laugh, we may find that at least some of the handling takes care of itself.”

So whether that’s jury duty or whatever circumstance you find yourself in, it’s not what you look at that matters so much but what you choose to see. If you can choose to see the brighter side, you’ll be able to feel brighter. 

So let me ask you a question:

What is FUN? How would you answer or describe that? It’s definitely something we want. We love to have fun. But what is it? Fun is merriment, amusement, pleasure, and enjoyment. It’s not really a “thing” right? You can’t go to the store and buy “fun”. It’s a feeling. Fun is a feeling. I don’t have to do something to have fun. Fun isn’t a place I have to go or something outside of me that I have to obtain before I can feel it. Fun is a feeling. 

We’ve talked about this a lot on the podcast already but where do feelings come from? Feelings come from your THOUGHTS. Your THOUGHTS create your feelings. 

My youngest used to pray for fun all the time. It took up like 90% of his prayers. He’d pray the we could have a fun day. That Daddy would have fun at work. That he could have fun at school. That the dogs would have fun. For him, it was something he valued greatly at that age. He wanted to have fun. And I’d talk to him and say that of course Heavenly Father can and will help you with your sincerest desires but that feeling of fun was completely within him already. I’d ask, “If you want to have fun, how can you have it?” 

What do you think? If you want to have fun? How can you have it?

My son, at the time, would then list off a bunch of things to do that would be fun. We could go to a park. We could make a treat. We could play a game. Even when you type those words into a search engine it’s going to pop up with a lot of things outside of you. Things to do, places to go, things to see for you to have or obtain fun.

But fun isn’t out there. In fact, you could take a group of people to Disneyland, a place that’s been labeled as, “The happiest place on earth” and some of them might not have fun. How is that possible?

It’s possible because FUN isn’t outside of you. Fun is a feeling. Feelings come from your thoughts. If you want to have fun, you have full capability to have it, to create it right now.

What a beautiful super power! Speaking of Disneyland, the last time we went my oldest daughter and I were in the bathroom by the Tea Cup ride. If you’ve been there, this might ring a bell. And if you’re thinking, that’s crazy, who would remember a bathroom?! To that, I say, if you had seen this bathroom, you’d remember. It’s adorable! It’s all Alice in Wonderland themed. The doors are chiseled and painted like playing cards. They’re blasting fun tea party music. There’s life size figures of the characters from the film. It’s just super cute. What really made it memorable for us though was the particular employee that was cleaning at the time. She was sweeping the floor and humming and smiling.

WHO smiles when they’re on bathroom duty? This lady did. We talked to her for a minute and out of morbid curiosity to discover why she was just so happy and she said she loved being assigned to this duty. She loved the decor, the ambiance of it. She loved her job. She had a whole list of thoughts that created a “FUN” working environment for her. It wasn’t that it was bathroom duty. She was still cleaning floors, scrubbing toilets, and wiping down sinks but she decided that this was a fun job and so it was.

Can FUN be that easily obtained? Just to think a thought and make it happen?

Absolutely! Fun is a feeling. Feelings come from your thoughts. Now, I do have to say that we have to be careful with our thoughts. The key to making it work is to think BELIEVABLE thoughts. I can’t go from, “I hate cleaning bathrooms. I don’t want to do it.” to “YAY! Bathroom duty. This is going to be fun!” Because I don’t believe those thoughts yet. I can’t lie to myself because that underlying thought of, “this stinks” is still there and it’s still generating those negative feelings.

Let’s dissect this a bit: If I think the thoughts, “I hate cleaning bathrooms. I don’t want to do it!” What feelings do you think these will generate? Destain? Resentment? Miserable? 

It’s for sure not going to generate fun or any other positive feelings, right?

So how to bridge that gap? How to you get from those negative feelings into finding believable thoughts that create fun?

Sometimes you have to start small. You have to just get out of the negative. Hate, is a pretty powerful negative word. It has a high potency of negativity. So you’re probably not going to be able to make the leap from, “I hate this” to “Oh, I love this! Yay for me!” Even when you go to think that thought your brain is going to give you major pushback and say, NOOOOOO. 

Have you seen Lego Batman? I can’t say I’ve seen it all the way through but my kids love it and there’s this scene where Batman doesn’t want to do something so he’s throwing this tantrum while saying/singing NO to the batman melody. Youtube the clip, it’s funny. But that’s kind of what’s happening in your mind. Your brain is like, NO WAY. Nope, nu-uh. 

When you try on a new thought and you get that pushback it just means you’re not ready to go there yet. So try on another thought. I like to get to curiosity first. I like to question things and see if there is a remote possibility that something COULD possibly be fun. Like this: “How can cleaning bathrooms be fun?” 

For me, I really don’t like doing laundry. I also have four kids and a husband. We have a lot of laundry. So I can dread it everyday or I can ask myself questions. I can be curious about laundry. I can think things like, there are people out there that like laundry. Weird, I know. In fact, I’ve talked to several clients and have friends that like laundry. It’s so foreign to me. So I start asking myself questions like, I wonder what they like about laundry? Why is this fun for them? How can I do this and have fun at the same time?

Just that simple line of inquiry puts some distance between you and those negative thoughts. Having these thoughts now generate feelings of curiosity, amusement, fascination, wonder, maybe even motivation and determination to find out why it’s fun for others. Like, I have to be missing something. Maybe there’s this secret to folding that I’ve yet to discover. What is that?! I’m going to find it. Hence, determination.

And those feelings feel so much better than hate, resentment, destain, and negativity, right?

Questions are beautiful things. How can I do this AND have fun?

When you start asking yourself questions like this you’re changing your focus. See, your brain is an amazing piece of machinery. It likes to be busy and it’s always busy solving problems. It wants a problem to solve and if you don’t deliberately give it a problem to solve, it’s going to create and/or find a problem to solve and you might not like the focus it takes.

I’m talking about your auto-pilot or default mode. You brain doesn’t have a mind of it’s own. It’s simply operating from your past habits, memories, thoughts, and nueropathways. If you tend to take a pessimistic approach to things more often than not, it’s going to revert back to that quite a bit. It’s going to take the task of, I have to clean the bathroom and give you thoughts about that and evidence of why that’s a bad idea.

But asking yourself questions you deliberately give it a problem to solve. You’re changing the focus. Now the problem is: How can I do this and have fun at the same time? So now it’s going to go to work to find creative ideas and look for new evidence. 

This is a great question to ask yourself in any situation. How can I go to English class and have fun at the same time? How can I parent my kids and have fun at the same time? How can I make this appointment fun? How can I clean my kitchen and have fun at the same time? How can I lose weight and have fun while doing it? How can I go to Jury Duty and have fun?

It turns out that English class isn’t so bad after all. That raising kids/teens doesn’t have to be so hard. That going to appointments can actually be fun. Cleaning can be fun. Losing weight doesn’t have to be hard, what if it’s easy and fun? That going to Jury Duty is fun after all.

You don’t have to go somewhere or do something to obtain fun. Fun is within you right now. It’s always there. It’s always an option.

When was the last time you had fun? Really had fun? Like a total blast, you weren’t looking at your watch or your smart phone? What were you doing? More importantly, what were you thinking? Remember, it really does’t matter what the action was or where you were at – fun is a feeling which means that you had thoughts that created that feeling of fun. See if you can go back and dissect that a little bit. See if you can remember what thoughts you were feeling. 

Sometimes it’s easier to have thoughts of fun. Like, if we were in Disneyland I probably wouldn’t have to think: How can I be in Disneyland and have fun at the same time? I’ll be too busy thinking, I love this place. I love that my family is here. It’s going to be such a fun day. Before we head into the park I’ve already decided it’s going to be fun, and it is.

Now, if I have say….jury duty…I have to practice trying on some thoughts. I have to practice curiosity and discovering how this could be fun for me.

I watched a Ted talk recently by Marguerite Dibble, I’ll post the link in the show notes for you guys if you want to see it too, but her address was called, “The ingredients of fun”.  She talks a lot about the gaming world and creating the most popular, fun games that people want to play. And the most popular ones have these key ingredients but you can absolutely use these in your day to day life.

I’m only going to touch on a few of them to get your mind thinking and pondering ways to find thoughts that can create fun for you.

The first ingredient is REWARD. This concept is simple. If you do an action then you get a reward. If you want to create fun, maybe you want to think of positive rewards for whatever you’re doing. These don’t have to be big. In fact, my youngest a little while ago out of nowhere started clapping for us and himself at really random times. Now when I say clapping, I mean, standing up, chest out clapping like he’d just gone to this amazing concert and was giving a standing applause type of clapping. He’d clap for everything. At first we were like, whaaaat is he doing? But I tell you what. It still was fun because it gave you an opportunity to think, yeah…taking out the garbage IS a cool thing. High five me! 

You can visualize this, “If I clean this floor I get to clap for myself for 5 seconds”  picture yourself giving yourself a standing ovation. It’s funny just visualizing that. 

However you want to reward yourself that’s an easy, quick way to come up with thoughts that will generate fun. Or parents, if you want to help your kiddos out with some thoughts, you can use the reward system too. That will help them think of thoughts that will not only make it fun for them to do whatever you’re asking them but they’ll probably do it without having to be reminded fifty times. Up to you. 

Some people argue and say you shouldn’t get rewarded for everything and I think this is misconstrued. I think it depends on the reward. If the reward is clapping, why not?

There’s a quote that I love from Elder Uchtdorf where he says, “Heavenly Father knows of your successes; though they man seem small to you, He acknowledges and cherishes each one of them.” 

Each one of them. Even the small ones that WE deem small. Think the creator of the universe, the most powerful, omnipotent being and yet He notices, acknowledges, and CHERISHES each one. You may want to question why you’re not allowing yourself to do the same. It might be fun to start.

Another key ingredient is CHALLENGE. We humans, thrive on challenges. It pushes us, stretches us, and helps us to grow. We fall short when we label the challenge as hard or something negative and then we give up and don’t want to do it after all. But what if that challenge could be fun?

Carol Dwek, talks about this idea in her AH-MAZING book, “Mindset”- highly recommend. She says that people with a growth mindset love a challenge. They don’t shy away from it. It’s FUN. 

Marguerite Dibble says this challenge is called the “difficulty curve” in the gaming industry. She said, “The difficulty curve optimizes fun by negating the negative emotions of boredom and frustration.”

Learn to love a challenge. Practice thinking thoughts like, “challenges can be fun.” or “how can I do this and have fun at the same time?” It’s amazing what creative answers and solutions you’ll come up with.

I believe by opening yourself up to those kinds of questions allows for personal revelation. You invite the Holy Ghost to speak to you and give you idea of how this can be fun. 

When you’re having fun, you’re in a positive mood. You’re more likely to operate as your best self and show up as such to those around you.

In fact, Valerie Strauss, from the Washington Post cited,

“Optimal brain activation occurs when (we) are in positive emotional states or when the material holds personal meaning, connects to (our) interests, is presented with elements of novelty, or evokes wonder.”

In other words: When you can make what you’re doing FUN, you’re operating at optimum capacity.

And why not? How much more enjoyable of a life will you experience if you try and create fun in every thing you do. Think of Mary Poppins, what does she say?

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! the job’s a game!”

Okay, the last thing I want to talk to you about today with FUN is to be wary of Faux Fun. This is a term from Martha Beck. There’s genuine, real fun and then there’s worldly, faux fun or fake fun. She says that, “Faux fun helps you ignore problems; real fun helps you face them.” It might seem temporarily fun to play a video game or play on your devices but they’re not helping you solve the real challenges and trials in life. Real fun comes from looking at the challenges and asking yourself, how can I do this and have fun at the same time?

There’s a ton of movies out nowadays where they show a group of people going out and drinking or doing other things that are questionable. They’re laughing and smiling and in the moment they’re surrounded by lots of people looking like they’re having a good time – but they’re pretty quick to leave out or completely skim over the after effects when they’re feeling physically terrible, throwing up because our bodies aren’t designed for that, when they’re being told of all the things they did while under the influence. 

That right there…that phrase, under the influence…who’s influence? Yours? No, would you really have done those things under normal circumstances? probably not. This is all faux or fake fun.

Joseph Smith said, “The devil has no power over us only as we permit him; the moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.”

Be wary of what’s genuine fun and from God and what’s faux fun.

Faux fun might be making fun of or laughing at someone. Maybe a lot of people are doing it. It appears fun but this is also faux fun. 

Be careful of this fake fun. This isn’t the “merriment” that is talked about in the scriptures. You can absolutely always pray and ask for guidance and help finding genuine Godly fun. Like I told my son, Heavenly Father always wants to and will help you with your sincerest, genuine desires and if you’re having difficulty finding the merriment, joy, or fun – then ask. All you have to do is ask.

Just remember, your thoughts create fun. Realize you already have that superpower within you. Fun comes from your thinking. Practice creating fun. It’s totally a skill worth practicing and spending time on. Be curious. Ask yourself questions.

Okay, recap:

  1. Fun is a feeling. Feelings come from your thoughts. You create the fun.
  2. Be curious. Ask yourself lots of questions. How can I do this and have fun at the same time?
  3. Add in those key ingredients to create fun: think of positive rewards, clapping even – but it has to be full on standing ovation type clapping (it doesn’t really but it’s more fun if you do) If it’s important enough that your Father in Heaven recognizes and cherishes them, you may want to start doing it too. The other ingredient is to learn to see challenges as “the difficulty curve” something to look forward to, to negate boredom and frustration and not to shy away from
  4. To utilize optimum brain activity, create fun for you in every activity you do. 
  5. Steer clear of faux fun. “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41)

Okay, friends, friends of all ages…you’ve got something to look forward to! Have a super FUN week. If it’s not fun, you’re the only one that can change that for you. I’m going to leave you with this quote by the beloved Dr. Seuss:

“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

See you next time!


Show Notes:

Ted Talk by Marguerite Dibble: The ingredients of FUN

Brad Wilcox: If we can laugh at it, We Can Live With It

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