How to Free Up Your Time for Fun – AARP

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What is ’enjoyable’?

So how are you going to use enjoyable to make higher decisions about tips on how to fill your time? The first step is to grow to be extra exact about its definition.

If you look in a dictionary, you’ll discover a wide range of definitions for “fun,” together with “lighthearted pleasure” and “an enjoyable or amusing time.” That could also be true, however in case you ask others to let you know about an expertise that stands out of their reminiscence as having been really enjoyable, their response will probably recommend one thing a lot deeper. Their whole face will gentle up; by the tip of their story, you’ll most likely end up smiling, too — and, in some instances, you’ll be emotionally moved.

I’ve collected hundreds of such anecdotes from individuals all over the world, and I can guarantee you that in its truest kind, enjoyable isn’t simply “light-hearted pleasure” or an pleasurable amusement. Instead, the moments during which we really have enjoyable are the moments during which we really feel probably the most alive.

These anecdotes helped me provide you with a brand new proposed definition of enjoyable that captures its essence and that we are able to use to make wiser selections about tips on how to spend our leisure time: Fun is the confluence of playfulness, connection and stream.  

By “playfulness,” I imply a spirit of lightheartedness and freedom — of doing one thing only for the pleasure of it and never caring an excessive amount of in regards to the final result. By “connection,” I’m referring to the sensation of getting a particular, shared expertise with somebody (or one thing) else.

And “flow” is a time period utilized in psychology to explain the state of being totally engaged and targeted, usually to the purpose that you just lose observe of time — consider a riveting dialog or being totally absorbed in a venture or sport. (It could be very completely different from “junk” stream: the hypnotized state we fall into once we binge-watch TV and look as much as discover that 5 hours have handed.)

Playfulness, connection and stream are every pleasurable on their very own, to not point out good for each our psychological and bodily well being. And when all three occur directly? We expertise what I name “true fun,” a time period I exploit to differentiate it from what I name “fake fun” — particularly, actions and merchandise, similar to social media and tv, which can be marketed to us as enjoyable however that, in actuality, don’t end result within the confluence of playfulness, connection or stream. 

How to have true enjoyable

Identify what’s really enjoyable for you. 

Once you will have internalized the concept enjoyable is a playful, linked stream, you’ll have the primary instrument it’s essential make higher use of your free time. Simply determine the actions that you just do for enjoyable and ask your self whether or not they end in a playful, linked stream. If so, they’re examples of true enjoyable and ought to be prioritized. If they don’t, they’re examples of pretend enjoyable and ought to be minimized, if not eradicated altogether.

I additionally recommend that you just recall to mind a number of reminiscences that stand out as having been really enjoyable — those during which “fun” is the dominant descriptor. Then ask your self: What have been you doing? Who have been you with? Where have been you on the time?

This train will aid you determine what I consider as your “fun magnets”: the actions, individuals and settings which can be the probably to generate enjoyable for you personally. While I consider the definition of enjoyable as a state of playful, linked stream is common, every of us experiences it in several contexts — in different phrases, we every have a set of enjoyable magnets that’s distinctive to us. The higher you perceive what yours are, the simpler will probably be to place alternatives for enjoyable in your calendar.

Will this assure that true enjoyable will all the time end result? Well, no. Fun usually includes a component of serendipity. But in case you make a degree to prioritize your enjoyable magnets, you’re significantly growing your possibilities — and no matter you do is more likely to provide true enjoyable than spending the identical period of time watching TV.

Pay consideration to moments of true enjoyable. 

I additionally encourage you to get into the behavior of noticing moments of playfulness, connection and stream as they happen in your on a regular basis life.

Too usually we assume that having enjoyable requires us to journey to an unique location or to do one thing far out of the abnormal. It’s true that journey and novelty are sometimes conducive to enjoyable. But chances are high that even in case you aren’t touring or doing something new, you already are encountering a number of moments of — and alternatives for — playfulness, connection and stream in your on a regular basis life; you’re simply not paying aware consideration to them.

This is a vital level, as a result of our lives are outlined by what we select to concentrate to. If we solely take note of issues that make us anxious or that stress us out, then we’ll understand our lives as being stuffed with anxiety and stress. If we determine as an alternative to concentrate to issues that delight us — and that deliver us moments of playfulness, connection and stream — then we’ll understand our lives as being pleasant and filled with alternatives for enjoyable.

The extra you apply being attentive to the constructive issues in your life, the extra you’ll have the ability to get pleasure from them and reap their advantages. And the extra you do that, the extra buoyant and resilient you’ll really feel, which in flip will go away you with extra power with which to pursue true enjoyable.

Try new issues. 

Speaking of novelty, one other suggestion is to strive one thing — something — new. This may be as easy as various up your day by day routine. Yet I additionally encourage you to get out of your consolation zone and experiment with one thing that you just’ve all the time been interested in however haven’t had the time (or the braveness) to strive. Take a lesson or join a workshop in a subject or discipline that pursuits or excites you. Try to not fear about trying dumb.

Also, remember that whereas stream itself can really feel easy when you’re in it, gaining the flexibility to get into a stream usually requires a bit of labor up entrance. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist who coined the time period “flow” appreciated to level out: If you don’t play chess, a chessboard is only a board with carved collectible figurines. But to somebody who has put within the work to discover ways to play, it is a chance for stream (and, I’d argue, for playfulness and connection, too). In different phrases, don’t quit if one thing at first appears exhausting. If you’re thinking about it, the trouble will probably be price it.

Put your cellphone away. 

Lastly, the truth that stream is a state of full focus and engagement signifies that if you wish to expertise stream (and, due to this fact, have an opportunity of experiencing true enjoyable), you will need to additionally make a degree to keep away from potential distractions at any time when potential — together with these out of your units. So reduce your notifications, and make a degree of placing your cellphone away, out of sight, once you’re with different individuals. 

I observe all of those recommendations myself and I can guarantee you that the results have been nothing wanting life-changing. Far from being frivolous, enjoyable is a instrument that may assist us make the most of our leisure time extra successfully. And the extra we do this, the extra alive we’ll really feel.

Catherine Price is a science journalist, founding father of and creator of a number of books, together with How to Break Up With Your Phone and The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again. Learn extra (and join her e-newsletter) at at and

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