The Power of Fun!
By Keith Varnum
“Man, I wish we could get rid of him. What a pain in the butt!” exclaimed the president of my burgeoning natural foods company.
“Yeah, I wish! But we can’t. He brings in too much money. The owner won’t let us fire him,” bemoaned the general manager.
The head honchos were talking about me! I was the bane of their existence. In their eyes, I was worse than an annoyance. I was a curse. Their cross to bear this lifetime.
What’s Up with That?
Why did I upset them so? Simple. I had too much fun!
I reveled in fun. I propagated play. I promoted enjoyment on all levels of our organization.
As the company vice president, I offered free homemade gourmet, organic lunches so all the workers could bond by eating together every day. By request, like a radio station, I piped in everyone’s favorite music throughout the warehouse and offices. I provided free Hollywood film showings and live rock band concerts every Friday night to develop a sense of community among the workers. I arranged Non-competitive Game Days with other New Age businesses. I got the company to pay for employee hiking, canoeing, sailing and skiing excursions.
In our retail food stores, I sponsored parties almost every day. Customer Gratitude Days. Employee Appreciation Days. New Employee Celebrations. Old Employee Goodbyes. Welcome-to-Spring Bashes. Summer Flings. Winter Festivals.
A Threat to a Smooth Running Ship
What upset my bosses’ world of professional propriety was general merriment. Revelry for no reason. Play with no purpose. Amusement with no apology!
A Danger to the Bottom Line
The only weak link in their argument against fun in the workplace was that the Universe didn’t agree! A small flaw in their philosophy of business.
The World Talks Back
Yes, what really got under their skin was that all my “frivolous folly” filled the coffers. Fun attracted customers like kids to ice cream. Our retail outlets were always packed. People ordered wholesale from us because our phone people joked with them—and our delivery people came bearing smiles, laughter and free gifts.
My bosses called me shallow and silly. They warned new executives and employees to not spend much time with me or they would be “infected with idiocy.”
The Genesis of Joy
I didn’t promote fun because of any intellectual or highfalutin philosophy. I developed my approach in order to make “work” tolerable. In my first “job”—a childhood lemonade stand—I discovered I could make business fun AND profitable. I was sold on play. I was hooked on horsing around. Play equals profit in my book!
I’m Not the Only One
In today’s lingo, you could say that fun is the new Feng-shui of business. Ask Google, Inc., who provide to their employees three free meals a day, play space, office daytime volleyball games, and encourage the use of roller skates at work! Fly the joking, jovial skies of Southwest Airlines—the only airline to turn a profit every year since 9-11!
How Do Angels Fly?
How do angels fly? They take themselves lightly.
Certainly there are times when life presents major challenges and one needs to act clearly and directly, but behaving responsibly and efficiently does not preclude humor and light-heartedness.
In fact, a flexible, fluid, upbeat approach and attitude is crucial to releasing magic and miracles in any endeavor—personal or professional. Inspiration and breakthrough are often born from the spirit of playfulness and exuberance. A spontaneous wink, a funny smile, a comic gesture can unlock deep blockage and stress in any stagnate situation. Through conscious silliness, soul purpose and connection can emerge.
Science Supports Silliness
Recent research supports this thrilling thesis. Scientific studies show that fun, humor and laughter reduce stress, boost immunity, relieve pain, decrease anxiety, prevent depression, rest the brain, enhance communication, inspire creativity, bolster morale, sustain resilience, and help us keep our balance and perspective in all activities.
Doctors, nurses and attendants now use “clowning” in hospitals to stimulate the healing process with patients. Medical professionals have discovered that when patients are laughing and having fun, they experience less physical and psychological pain—and recover faster.
The same healing, transformative dynamic reigns in every realm—business, relationships, sports and spirituality. Laugh more, heal quicker, feel better, live longer—and attract more abundance in all arenas of life!
The Purpose of Life
After all, what is the true purpose of life? To learn to love more fully. What is the ultimate result of all authentic fun, laughter and play? More free flowing energy. Healing. Love.
One of my teachers is fond of saying, “even machines malfunction in the presence of seriousness.” All human endeavors malfunction in the presence of seriousness!
Clues Abound in Our Language
The definition of seriousness in our culture is “weightiness.” And people say, “You must have appropriate gravity for the occasion.” But doesn’t gravity weigh us down? “His manner was very professional and properly sedate.” Sedate or sedated?
Play Is a Lubricant
Fun is the antidote for seriousness. Play is a lubricant for aliveness and creativity.
Yes, But …
Many people in our culture say, “Yes, but … you must have fun in a responsible way.” Yes, fun in a “responsive” way. Fun is the very essence of true responsibility—that is, appropriate responsiveness. Fun is the mutual enjoyment of the moment. The only way mutual enjoyment can be created is by being appropriately responsive to the situation and people involved.
“Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It”
The challenge is to know how to create enough fun whenever and wherever you can. The biggest obstacle facing most people is their attitude towards fun. Enjoyment is often seen as a secondary—or superfluous—consideration in most undertakings. And, sometimes, it’s even viewed as a hindrance! Nothing could be further from the truth of human creative dynamics.
Make enjoyment your priority in every enterprise! Fun and lightheartedness are absolutely essential for wellness, happiness and success. As unforeseen and uncontrollable events threaten to knock you off stride or isolate you from supportive resources, play keeps you open, flexible and resilient.
Fun is the attitude of willingness to find whatever joy and aliveness exists in each moment. Approaching life’s challenges with a joyful heart is the surest path to success in any venture. Fun is the best fuel for success because it’s the best food for your body, mind—and spirit!