We all have to deal with the pressures that come with being alive. Whether it is a job or a personal relationship, there are inevitably going to be circumstances that challenge our ability to stay centered and confident. Things will happen that push us outside of our comfort zone. In fact, sometimes we will feel as if the very ground that we stand on is shaking.
What we do in those moments will determine much about our future success. If we give in to our fears and engage in a fight, we miss out on opportunities to recognize that we are more powerful and supported than we realized. If we attempt to avoid life, we will miss out on unseen adventures and experiences. In the middle of it all there is another option. We can choose to relax and have fun. It is an option that we prized when we were young, and yet often overlook as adults.
It takes a great deal of concentration, willingness and mental resiliency to seek joy when we feel threatened. To teachers, the benefits of having fun are evident. When we plan our days with joy, making learning fun and engaging, we avoid many of the problems that we might otherwise encounter with our students. This is due to the fact that a room full of students who are engaged and challenged in healthy ways becomes magnetic, bringing out the best in everyone. In this setting, students enjoy tackling problems that push them to grow.
The same is true in the lunch groups I facilitate. By creating a fun, engaging schedule and investing myself in the moment, my students naturally jump on board. It becomes much easier to redirect the students who are off course. I have witnessed my most troublesome students transform into cooperative members of the group. The allure of the fun that everyone is having is too great to ignore. It is much more effective than attempting to punish them into cooperation.
Having fun is an art form. It takes a combination of careful planning and lighthearted willingness to go with the flow, to truly enjoy being alive. If you have been feeling overwhelmed by life, it is time to find a way back to the fun. You can start by realizing that having fun activates higher order thinking and gives you access to creative solutions that you miss when you are flooded with stress hormones.
Give it a try. Take some time to sit quietly and make a list or simply reflect upon the times that you have the most fun. Bring some of that energy to your job and your personal relationships. As you do, you will find more room to be yourself. This will give others permission to do the same. What could be better than being successful while experiencing more fun than you thought was possible?
Edward Biagiotti is the Inclusion Specialist for Culver City Unified School District. For questions, comments, and ideas for future columns, send an email to: EdwardBiagiotti@ccusd.org