Opening Up to Fun

This morning I woke up and went through my routine. Fed my cat. Made my coffee. I’ve barely left the apartment over the last few days because it has been a bit rainy and overcast. Perfect weather for being “productive.” I took stock of the day. ‘Recording a podcast at 12:30… do I need to wash my hair? I want to work on my speech…’ etc. etc. I suddenly felt the subtle tension of “should.” The things I felt I “needed” to do were inhabiting my body. And I noticed. And I stopped. Emotionally supported by the sun streaming through the big, south-facing windows of my apartment, I asked myself, “how can I have fun and enjoy myself today?” And I felt the question, and its answer, in a new way. It’s a question I’ve been working on asking myself more and more these days. But, this time, it hit different. The trust has been building within me that I can genuinely embody enjoyment, follow my pleasure, and still create the life and accomplishments I desire. In fact, I’m more effective when I listen to my desires, my fun, my enjoyment, and pursue them.

For a while, following my “pleasure” felt like going through the motions. There were only some things I could even let myself enjoy. Pleasure, light-heartedness, and fun are like a muscle and I needed, badly, to flex them. Of course, I haven’t been living like a nun. I have fun. But its sources, for me, have been narrower, fewer, and farther between than I’d like them to be. I can feel myself opening up to living in pleasure every day. It’s weird to say, because I’ve always been a very happy, enthusiastic, and optimistic person. But, I’ve slowly become more aware of the sheen of pressure to accomplish that has clung to me like a glaze, fired on until glossy and hard. I’m chipping away at it. Chipping away at the tiny, almost imperceptible voice that says, “That’s frivolous. You can’t spend time on that. That’s not contributing to your growth.”

I’ve been terrified to step off of the conveyor belt to my destiny for even a moment, for fear of “wasting my life.” When I discussed this recently with one of my coaches and my peers in our group session, I cried from the sheer resistance I felt to just letting myself go. To just not trying so hard anymore to be the best I can be. To just be in enjoyment, in delight. I couldn’t even fully understand how to do it. But slowly, slowly, I’m discovering what it all means. I’m discovering how to stand on the roof of my building with my coffee and take in the city I love without feeling like somehow I’m missing out on something out there. Without feeling like I’m not doing enough. That I don’t belong. I don’t know the right people. I’m not in the right places.

We are the taste-makers of our own lives. If we’re truly savoring them, we’re not missing out on anything. Whatever I am doing is the thing to be doing. And that becomes more and more true the more I learn to follow my desire. The less I worry about being perfect or even impressive.

In our coaching session I realized that I’m a lot more competitive than I ever realized. It was not easy to perceive exactly what mindset and what beliefs were causing me so much resistance to fun for fun’s sake. But one of the discoveries I made was that, no matter what I did, even if it was supposed to be for fun, I was applying pressure to myself to be good. To improve. To be the best I could be. To be impressive. To be amazing. The idea that I could do something and not care how well I did or what it meant about me as a person… that was… new.

So, setting out to do things without caring how well I did was my way in to disrupting this pattern. Yours may be different. I genuinely thought that I was living a pretty stress-free life, following my passions. I was. I am. But I’m in a place where I’m doing the fine-tuning on myself.

So pay attention. Pay attention to the subtle tension. The quiet beliefs that might be preventing you from letting yourself dive into absolute abandon and pleasure in your everyday life. What I’ve learned is the less we try to be, the more we are, and our dreams come true faster. When you sit down to work toward your dream because that’s what you genuinely desire to do in the moment, that’s when the magic happens.