How to Have Fun and Feel More Positive Feelings?
Fun is a vague concept. It is highly subjective. The experience and intensity of fun vary from person to person.
David J. Linden, neuroscience professor and author of The Compass of Pleasure (Viking, 2011), says "It's not a term that scientists use, ever. It's not like I can point to a place in the brain and say, 'Here's what happens when you have fun.'" In his book, Linden explained how different experiences like exercise, drug use, altruism, and sex have similar effects on the brain. Neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the brain light up when people (or lab rats) experience pleasure.
Linda Gorman, teaching professor in the Krieger School's Neuroscience Program, explains that this pleasure pathway has evolved to reward actions that support the survival of both the species and the individual. These neurons start firing when you have sex, drink, or eat. She states that the reward pathway is triggered if something you do is conducive to your survival.
So, what's happening here? One reason is perhaps these pleasurable behaviors can all be categorized as a form of play. And playing might be the most significant act we can ever do.
To gain more insights, watch The Importance of Play, a short talk by Dr. John Cohn, as well as
Why Having Fun Is the Secret to a Healthier Life by science journalist Catherine Price.
Related video content: How to have more fun in your life by Matt Weinstein, Founder and “Emperor” of Playfair, Inc.
If you're looking for indicators that you're having fun or experiencing something pleasurable, then one can be that you are laughing.
The sad news about fun is: We're most likely getting less of it than when we were children. Linden says that pleasure-seeking behavior starts to decline in young adulthood and our ability to feel fun or pleasure diminishes as we become older.
We lose 1% of our touch receptors every year, beginning at 20 years old. This isn't especially noticeable at middle age, but the more we advance in age, it causes balance problems. Linden adds, "Our senses degrade as we get older."
Dr. Stuart Brown, of the National Institute for Play, asserts that we're suffering from "play deficit." He deems it a serious public health issue as anxiety, depression, and irritability are all symptoms of a lack of play.
Perhaps, we adults should dedicate more time for play, whether that's dancing, joining a darts club, growing a backyard garden, or reviving a childhood hobby.
SO, HOW TO INCREASE FUN IN YOUR LIFE?
Do away with "fake" fun. This includes activities that consume your free time, but don't stimulate focused engagement, deep connection, or playfulness –which happens when you get into a flow. Binge-watching movies or TV series and scrolling social media are examples of fake fun which only aggravates hopelessness and anxiety. Pursue true fun, instead.
Discover your own style of fun. Everyone experiences fun differently. Consider the times you laughed with other people, what you were doing then, who you were with, and what made it feel so good. It's important that you identify your unique brand of fun.
Intentionally make time to have fun. This doesn't mean you schedule "fun" because it is indeed an emotional experience. It's an experience you don't plan, but you can make room for it to happen more often. You can do this by prioritizing the activities and the people that can make it happen.
HOW TO FEEL MORE POSITIVE FEELINGS?
While you’re seeking fun more effectively, your skill in nurturing positive emotions can be equally important, too. Mastering the following skills go a long way to helping you become a happier person:
1- Pay attention to, and appreciate, simple joys. There are numerous delights and pleasures around us, just begin noticing them more often.
2- Put yourself in settings (or environments) that are likely to make you feel positive. Do you visit awe-inspiring parks or exhibits? Do you relish in surprises or excitement when there is one?
3- Concentrate on experiencing the full scope of positive emotions. Mental wellness isn't simply about feeling calm. In reality though, it's a whole range of positive feelings like awe, contentment, love, amazement, curiosity, zest, vigor, surprise, etc. Find more vocabulary to label your positive feelings –and seek to experience them.
4- Make others’ joys & successes be your source of joy as well. Others’ experiences and achievements are also enjoyable.
5- Make an effort to inspire positive feelings in others. Emotions are contagious. When you're happy or having fun, it's easier to make others smile and have fun, too. How good are you at making others feel calm, excited, or delighted?
Try weaving more fun into your days. It's never too late to start.
Contact JarvisHypnotherapy today if you need help figuring out what brings you more positive emotions.
For additional resources on how to attain happiness, read also: NONATTACHEMENT: How Letting Go Can Set You Free.
5 Ways to Feel More Positive Emotions
LIGHTEN UP—ACCORDING TO SCIENCE, IT'S GOOD FOR YOU
Why Having Fun is so Important?