Sunél's Blog | Why we should have more fun

Sunél Veldtman, | 19 January 2024

It’s a new year. 2024. In numerology, the year of abundance, success, karmic lessons, and stepping into your power. Said another way, it’s about achievements, responsibility for your actions, and putting in the work to create the life that you’ve been dreaming of.

Over the years I have developed a ritual at the start of the year. Somewhere after the craziness of the silly season and the beginning of my work year, I find a quiet spot, with a good cup of coffee and my brown leather file. This file contains years of intentions, dreams, and plans. I review the past year and set intentions for the new one. These intentions are statements I wish to be true at the end of the year for each aspect of my life like my own well-being, family, friends, career, money, creativity, learning, fun, and so on.

They also encompass the priorities for the year. For example, my son is in his final year of school. I know that it will be a busy year, with many commitments even for the mum! I’d like to be present for him, so I’ll set fewer or less demanding intentions for other areas of my life.

However, as much as these intentions have served to keep me on course since I started the practise, they can all become serious. Intention-setting can run the risk of you thinking that life is one big self-improvement project - which in turn can signal an unhealthy need to control yourself or your environment. I’ve become mindful of this and have learned to hold intentions lightly as too often; life upends your plans.

In light of this, I have chosen to work on having fun. The importance of this was recently impressed on me by a good friend.  Lying in a hospital bed, where he is fighting a life-threatening condition, he held my hand, looked intently at me, and said, “Sunél, you must have more fun!”

It was a timely reminder.  Fun helps me keep my energy up for work and other serious aspects of my life. And thankfully, one doesn’t stand in the way of the others – fun helps create a successful life.

However, I need to work on fun since it doesn’t come naturally to me. I can be too serious, and my Calvinistic guilt stands in the way of me letting my hair down.  As a parent, saying yes to fun can also seem somewhat selfish, because it can feel like being less available to your children.

But, it’s important. Even the Harvard Business Review commented recently that leaders who switch off after work to engage with hobbies, relax, read, or spend time with loved ones, were better equipped to deal with work challenges. They found that not taking a break from work in the evening backfired for leaders because it drained their mental resources.

Similarly, the research of Dan Buettner, who studied areas of the world in which people live exceptionally long lives – the Blue Zones – showed that downtime contributed to the longevity of people living in these zones. Practices such as a daily happy hour, regular contact with family, friends and community, and even moderate alcohol consumption were present in most of these communities. Sadly these days, it seems we have few regular practices or places where fun happens.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Plan for it. Schedule it. Do what you must do to ensure that it happens. I intend to have fun this year, and I hope 2024 will involve fun for you too.  Let’s keep each other accountable for this intention.

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Kind regards,