Phil, a distributor with an established network market company, prides himself on his commitment to his business. He counts rigorous self-discipline as one of his strengths and expects the same from his team members, privately frowning on such “nonsense” as celebrating team birthdays and holiday parties.

Phil goes on his company’s incentive trip once a year, not only because it makes good business sense, but also because he figures he works so hard, he deserves an exotic reward. With his camera he meticulously records each brilliant sunset, gorgeous vista, and tourist attraction so he’ll have an accurate log of all his experiences.

When his vacation ends and he returns to work, Phil reviews all his photos and is surprised that he can scarcely recall any sensation of all that fun he was supposed to be having. He wonders why this is and what he is missing. After some consideration, Phil realizes he’s been so busy attaining goals and meeting self-imposed requirements, both in business and on vacation, that he has forgotten how to have fun.

He wonders if he really knows what fun is.

Fun is an attitude, a state of being; it’s playfulness, enjoyment, or amusement. Fun can inspire you, motivate you, and empower you to change your attitude, reactions, and perception of yourself. Fun and a sense of humor will propel you toward your goals more quickly and give you inspiration,¬†motivation, and a sense of¬†well-being along the way.

If you’re having fun, you’re increasing your levels of “feel good” neurotransmitters in your brain—dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. When this happens, you empower yourself to feel better in general; it’s much easier to be creative, energetic, and empathic when you feel good.

Fun is not something to look for outside yourself. It’s something you own, embrace, and develop within as you live life in the present moment. It’s easy to think that fun and happiness are things you might wish would happen to you—things that come from a source outside you, such as a vacation or a new car, but this is a mistaken belief. You make the fun happen. It is totally up to you whether you enjoy life.

Here are some tips to help you raise your fun quotient:

1. Develop Your Ability to Be in the Moment
Allow your inner self to awaken and recognize the sheer beauty of being alive. Use gratitude to build your enthusiasm for life, and stay in that attitude as you approach each task, obstacle, or occasion. Give yourself permission to wholeheartedly enjoy each moment without judging. Be playful—keep your knees loose, so to speak.

Take a sip from the fountain of youth: having not yet been programmed to make a distinction between work and play, children are constantly exploring, discovering, and enjoying the wonder of life. You can do the same, no matter what your chronological age may be. It’s all in your perception.

2. Break Out of Your Routine and Jumpstart Your Sense of Fun
Shake things up. Try learning a new language, sport, or game. Take an improv class to increase your spontaneity. Go to a movie you’d normally not choose to see. Try a totally different route to or from work. At work, take mini-breaks in your routine: at intervals throughout your day, jump up from the desk, stretch and move around, even at the risk of feeling a little bit goofy.

Visit an amusement park and ride the rollercoaster, Ferris wheel, or carousel. At home, rearrange your furniture or try cooking a new and exotic recipe. Take a dance class. You’ll find your fun quotient multiplies exponentially.

3. Build Your Fun Network
Find people you can have fun with, people you can be yourself with, people who can let go and try new activities, methods, and techniques. When you find people who appreciate amusement, enjoyment, and laughter, stay connected with them and look for more people to add to your “fun network.”

Solitude and isolation are sure ways to suppress and stifle your sense of fun, so make sure to broaden your scope of experience socially, face-to-face and in real time, not in a digital sense. Yes, social media can be fun, interesting, and helpful, but there’s no substitute for actual, live socializing. And the people in your network will support and energize your practice of having fun.

4. Celebrate Laughter
When was the last time you laughed so hard you cried? Or you laughed so hard your sides hurt? Kick-start your laughter engine; visit a comedy club, watch a funny movie or TV show, or read a humorous book.

Be silly with someone you trust. Let your hair down and see how much healthier, more likeable, and more spontaneous you feel.

Get into the fun of laughing at yourself, too, and always take opportunities to laugh with (not at) others.

Take a lesson from Phil’s story. It’s easy to become overcommitted to reaching your goals or meeting your expectations so that you forget to have fun.

Choose to laugh, to feel good, to amuse yourself and others. These are conscious actions and skills that can be developed until they become second nature.

Having fun, laughing, and feeling good will improve health and performance, accelerate learning and memory, increase confidence, and empower you to accomplish even more than you dreamed possible. Those who live each moment with a sense of fun and humor find it easier to tolerate, accept, and amuse others. Enhance all your relationships with your new attitude.

Remember to celebrate the present moment, enjoying each and every aspect of living, and fun will introduce you to yourself again and again.

MARTI MACGIBBON, CADC II, ACRPS,
is a certified mental health professional, humorist,
inspirational motivational speaker, veteran standup comic,
author,and member of the National Speakers Association.
She is the author of
Never Give in to Fear.