How to Have Fun as an Adult: 4 Ways to Embrace Play in Life

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Are you bored with your routine every day? What are ways to have fun as an adult?

Play isn’t just reserved for kids. Adults should take time in their life to have some fun every once in a while. You just have to find what’s enjoyable for you.

Keep reading to find out how to have fun as an adult and why it’s important for everybody.

What Is Fun and Why Is It Important?

According to The Power of Fun by Catherine Price, the word fun has been used to describe so many different types of experiences that it has begun to lose some of its meaning. We use fun to describe anything from getting a massage to going skydiving. She explains that many of us also mistake activities like binge-watching a show or scrolling on social media for fun when these activities are a little more than a distraction or passive entertainment that rarely leaves us feeling better than before. 

Price focuses on the kind of fun that leaves you feeling energized and inspired. She argues that this kind of fun is good for your physical and emotional well-being, and is the intersection of playfulness, connection, and flow. 

How to Have Fun and Enjoy Your Life

Now that you know what fun is and why everyone needs it, let’s focus on how to integrate playfulness into your life. Having fun on a mature level can mean anything from living out your passion to playing a simple game. 

Let’s look at how to have fun as an adult by changing your lifestyle.

1. Find Your Passions

The Power of Fun recommends pursuing your passions to have fun as an adult, which she defines as activities or hobbies that focus your attention and leave you feeling invigorated. Not everything you love to do is a passion. For example, you may love taking baths, but this is an activity that relaxes you, not one that inspires you; therefore it doesn’t qualify as a passion.

Price explains that our passions are often a great jumping-off point for mature fun because they lend themselves to opportunities for playfulness, connection, and flow. Passions are playful because they’re voluntary and pursued for their own sake. They also often lead you to meet new people and make new connections, and they facilitate building skills and knowledge that allow you to experience flow.

If you’ve lost touch with what you’re passionate about, Price offers some guiding questions to help you get started:

  • What are you interested in learning?
  • What’s something you used to love but stopped doing?
  • What’s something you’ve always wanted to try but never felt like you could?
  • What’s something you do that lights you up?

Price recommends you brainstorm as many ideas as possible and then choose something (anything) to try. Even if it’s not the right fit, you’ll have learned something about yourself in the process.

Price cautions that many people avoid pursuing their passions because they’re afraid of looking stupid or being bad at something. She says that if you’re trying something new, you probably will be bad at it, but she offers the reassurance that if you stick with it through the awkward beginner phase, you may discover a new passion.

2. Develop a Healthy Work Attitude

Despite the clear benefits of embracing fun as an adult, many of us still fail to do so. This is because, according to The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, we live in a “hustle culture”: a culture where work is important above all else. Society teaches us that we need to be purposeful and productive at all times. 

If you adopt this “hustle culture” mindset, the idea of doing something that is unproductive and lacks purpose—in other words, engaging in play—is terrifying. So you avoid play as much as possible, or perhaps even reject it completely. Likewise, taking the time to rest seems unimportant—a mere distraction from productivity. You may pressure yourself to keep working and push through tiredness, rather than listening to your body and getting some rest.

Bowing to societal pressure to be purposeful and productive all the time not only prevents you from enjoying play and rest but also impacts your worthiness. If you devote all of your energy to chasing achievements and accomplishments, you run the risk of your self-worth becoming tied to your productivity. You’ll start to think that you’re only “good enough” if you’ve spent all of your time working. This ties your self-worth to what you’ve done, not who you are.

Overcoming This Pressure

To overcome the pressure to be productive and embrace play and rest, you need to have the courage to reject societal expectations and develop a new, healthier attitude toward work. You should prioritize your mental and physical wellbeing above “getting stuff done,” and make time for rest and play so that you stay healthy and happy. Likewise, you should recognize that playing and resting will probably improve your productivity in the long run. You’re more likely to focus and produce high-quality work if you’re feeling happy, refreshed, and relaxed. 

Finally, you should remind yourself that you don’t need to burn yourself out in an attempt to gain worthiness. You’re worthy no matter what you do or don’t achieve. 

3. Enjoy High-Quality Leisure Activities

Activities that get the blood pumping, your heart pounding, or the mind jogging are the most invigorating ways to have fun as an adult. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport says to consider the following three principles of high-quality leisure activities: 

  1. Demanding activities are more rewarding than passive ones. Leisure evokes images of reclining, relaxing, and putting your feet up. At the end of a long, tiring day, most people want nothing more than to zone out and have no commitments. While it can be helpful to do this occasionally, spending your free time this way often leaves you feeling more drained than rested. By contrast, dedicating your leisure time to demanding activities actually energizes you more than idly passing the time. When you learn a new skill or finish a task, it leaves you feeling uniquely proud and accomplished. The more energy you invest in your leisure, the more value you’ll gain.
  2. Humans get satisfaction and self-worth from making things with their hands. High-quality leisure includes craft—which entails using a skill to practice or create something. By this definition, crafts encompass building a DIY headboard as well as practicing a song on the guitar. Humans are driven to prove their self-worth, and when you create something, you end up with a finished product that you can point to as proof of your competence. Without concrete evidence of your ability, it’s easy to resort to online platforms in search of validating likes and retweets. 
  3. In-person, structured social activities are rejuvenating. Certain leisure activities—like competitive games and sports—create an environment for supercharged socializing, where the people involved can interact more intensely than they would in normal conversations. For example, it would be inappropriate to talk trash, yell encouraging words at someone, or chest bump at a cocktail party, but these displays are encouraged when you’re playing kickball with friends. You can find opportunities for this kind of social interaction in volunteer activities, recreational sports leagues, and group projects, such as building a local skating rink. Supercharged socializing is an energizing and rewarding way to spend your leisure time. 

Strategies for Upgrading Your Leisure

From woodworking to volunteering, you have a wide array of high-quality leisure options to fill your time. Consider these strategies to get the most out of your downtime: 

1) Build or fix something new each week. As a whole, people aren’t as handy as they used to be: Many people don’t know how to change a tire or weld a gate—they just Google an auto shop or order a new gate on Amazon. However, creating something with your hands is a rewarding experience.

For six weeks, commit to learning a new skill and then use that skill to fix, create, or learn something new. These projects could include changing the oil in your car, installing a light fixture, starting a garden, building a headboard, or learning a new technique on an instrument. Start with relatively easy skills and projects. Each success will boost your confidence and motivation to continue learning and taking on increasingly challenging projects.

2) Schedule time for low-quality leisure. Decide in advance how much time you’ll spend on low-quality leisure activities, such as browsing social media or watching Netflix. This strategy has two benefits: First, creating time limits for your low-quality leisure prevents those activities from stealing time away from high-quality leisure. Second, this creates a compromise for reducing your digital use. If you try to completely abandon your digital habits, you’re more likely to relapse when you have the urge to log on. Instead, this approach builds in time to get your fix, while still protecting your commitment to incorporate more high-quality activities. As you experience the benefits of dedicating the rest of your leisure time to high-quality activities, you’ll naturally want to allocate less time to digital use. 

3) Join a group. Enjoy the benefits of regular, structured social interactions by joining a church group, volunteer organization, fitness club, or some other association—whether the unifying mission is serious or playful. Connecting with other people in pursuit of a common goal is uniquely rewarding. Although getting together with other people to work toward a shared goal brings inevitable logistical and emotional frustrations, it’s worth it. 

4. Play a Game

According to A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster, fun from games comes from learning, comprehension, and mastery. Learning in games is different from learning in reality. Games present an environment where you can learn and have no pressure from consequences

Games get boring when the player has learned the pattern, and there is nothing new to learn. They also get boring when they’re too trivial (you’ve mastered the pattern) or when they’re too difficult (you might not even identify the pattern).

People with different natural strengths will gravitate toward puzzles they can solve. This is why some people prefer sports over Scrabble. People may also play games that match their personalities. For example, social people play games that interact with others, such as Farmville. People who enjoy aggregating resources and building up abilities may enjoy role-playing games.

Given there is variation between people’s preferences, it’s impossible for any single game to appeal to everyone. The difficulty ramp will be wrong for many people, and what the game teaches may not match everyone’s preferences.

To learn orthogonal skills, consider playing games you don’t get, games that don’t appeal to your nature. This might be the area where you can most stretch your capabilities.

Wrapping Up

It can be hard to unwind, especially if work takes up a lot of your time and energy. But it’s important to give yourself a chance to recharge. The best way to do that is to have fun as an adult with time set aside for leisure.

What are other ways to have fun as an adult? Let us know your suggestions in the comments below!

How to Have Fun as an Adult: 4 Ways to Embrace Play in Life

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Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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