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How to have MORE FUN - According to our Book Club!

On today’s episode, Michelle Dittmer invites you to the CanGap book club, where we talk about Catherine Price’s transformative book, “The Power of Fun”, because without fun, are we really living? 

Michelle deep dives into the 3 key elements, —playfulness, connection, and flow—that redefine our understanding of true fun. She also shares personal anecdotes and insights exploring how to reclaim fun in young adult life, navigating social media's impact, and empowering young minds. In 2024, we challenge you to evaluate your fun frequency and encourage playful solo adventures, kicking off the year with revitalised energy and authentic joy! 

Topics Discussed

True Fun Elements: Michelle dissects the essence of genuine fun, highlighting three vital components—playfulness, connection (to self/others/nature), and achieving a state of flow.

Social Media Detriment: She emphasises how phones disrupt the state of flow crucial for experiencing real fun, impacting mental health and offering solutions for better phone management.

Adult Playfulness Challenge: Encouraging adults to shed self-judgement and embrace playfulness, she challenges listeners to engage in childlike activities, promoting personal growth and inspiring others.

Youth & Fun: Michelle explores how teenagers struggle to maintain a sense of fun amid increasing responsibilities, emphasising the significance of community and peers in fostering genuine enjoyment.

Book Recommendation & New Year Focus: With enthusiasm, she recommends "The Power of Fun" by Catherine Price as a tool for cultivating more authentic joy and sets a goal for the upcoming year: to have more genuine fun.

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Connect With The Canadian Gap Year Association


Michelle Dittmer - 00:00

Hey now, book clubs are not for old people! hey are for interesting people who are looking for connection and community and now with audiobooks, even if you don't like reading, you can participate in book clubs.

Our Gap Your GPS program right now has a book club and we are reading The Power of Fun by Katherine Price, and I want to take you through a quick recap because I think this book should be read by everyone so check the show notes for the link but get in and listen to How to Have More Fun in Your Life.

Michelle Dittmer - 00:37

Hey there and welcome to the Gap Year Podcast, my name is Michelle Dittmer and I am your host and Gap Year expert.

Now we are talking all about our book club's book called The Power of Fun by Catherine Price and the promise of this book is explicitly stated in its subtitle, how to feel alive again.

Now, if I was in a large room and I said, who wants to feel this way? Who wants to feel alive again? I can pretty much guarantee that almost everyone in the room would put their hand up.

This book, I read it originally just after the heart of the pandemic when I really felt that all of the fun had been completely zapped out of my life. I had been in a state of survival mode for so long that I really felt I didn't know how to actually have fun anymore. I was super serious. Things always seemed really intense and I really wanted to do something about that. So naturally, instead of actually going out and having fun, I decided to read about it. But seriously, This book is 10 out of 10 amazing highly recommend it for everyone whether you also feel like you didn't have enough fun in your life or you have lots of fun and you want to understand it a little bit more or just everyone should just read it hands down no reason why just read it it's

a really great book we're gonna link to it in the show notes so you can pick it up and take it for a little bit of a spin.

Michelle Dittmer - 03:14 

Now in the book one of my favourite concept is something called like real fun and the author Catherine Price she talks about how we often misuse the word fun often we just kind of throw it around lightheartedly oh that dinner party was fun or I had fun at the movies or my friends and I had fun last night but did you like did you really have fun or was it just actually neutral or just like not negative therefore it must have been fun?

And what the author distinguishes is between this misused fun and True fun and she uses this term I think it really highlights the meaning and everybody gets it even though there's no real definition for it so there's a difference between something that was fun and something that was like so fun. And I think even just saying it, I can feel the difference in my body and I can feel the different memories that it evokes about when something was just so fun and there's laughter and there's playfulness and just joy and that is what true fun really is.

Now she did her research and she interviewed thousands of people.She calls them her “fun squad” that were giving her feedback and sharing stories because she really wanted to get down to the heart of what true fun really is and there is no definition.

There is nothing out there and she really kind of decided to do that research and pin it down. So what she found is that true fun that something that's so fun Boils down to three elements. Those three elements are playfulness, connection and flow.

Michelle Dittmer - 05:18 

Now playfulness is something that we often kind of associate with being young and kids or in very light-hearted relationships, that it's playful, but it's really kind of the carefree nature. It's participating in something for no reward or no specific outcome.

Just light-hearted and playful. And I think one of the quotes that is just my favourite and maybe the whole book is when she writes “when people are being playful they sparkle” and I just it's just the perfect language you don't need to really have a definition when you understand what it means when somebody is sparkling they're

playing and they're just having a good time so playful is one of the three elements.

Michelle Dittmer - 06:25

The second element is connection. Now connection is often to others so a lot of true fun happens in the presence of others but it can also be connection to self because you can have true fun completely on your own but it's when you're feeling really connected with your true and authentic self. Connection could also mean a connection to nature or your environment. Going for a hike in the woods and feeling connected to nature can be real fun. So, connection is that other piece and it's when you're joined with someone or something else but you can still be your authentic self.

You can be genuinely you but connected to something larger, whether that's a peer group, a friend, nature, your soul, whatever that is, but that sense of connection.

So, playfulness and connection.

Michelle Dittmer - 07:30

And then the third element that factors in there Is the idea of flow and flow is really that idea that time flies when you're having fun. It's when you're so deeply engrossed in something that you don't think about anything else. You don't care about anything else. You are enjoying it, you are in the moment. It's a lack of distractions. It's a lack of judgement of yourself or other people judging you. It's in that ability to just be in a state of flow where things are flowing smoothly, flowing forward and life is good.

Michelle Dittmer - 08:14 

Now, I want to take a little bit of a detour here and I want to talk about flow in the sense of social media and technology. Social media and technology get a bad rap.

But I want to give a really concrete example about how our phones are actually preventing us from having true fun. And it's related back to this idea of flow. Our phones are consistently pulling us out of that state of flow. We are constantly getting little messages or notifications or flashing lights letting us know that there's something else that needs our attention or like air quote needs our attention.

So rather than being fully in the moment we are aware that there is something else that we need to attend to. Whether that's something urgent or something completely frivolous, that is just going to pull us out of that state of flow. Now you might think that, you know, well I put my phone in my pocket and so like it doesn't really draw me away from anything, but the reality is that we know that it's there. And we know if there is one single down moment we can pull it out and get that dopamine hit from answering that message or seeing that like on a photo or whatever it is. We know that it's there and even that element pulls us out of a state of flow and prevents us from having fun in a lot of instances.

Now you'll probably be amazed when I talk about how many conversations I have with gappers that is all about the impacts that social media and their dependence on their phones has on them and how they recognize, how they're aware and how they recognize how it is negatively affecting their lives. But not only are they recognizing that, But they want to do something about it, which I think is just so incredible.

We have an arsenal of tools on how to limit that phone time, how to better manage social media.

Michelle Dittmer - 10:42

And even just a heads up for anybody in our GPS program, as part of our GPS program January's theme is all about health and wellness and we are going to be suggesting a social media detox period. And this is one of my favorite activities to do with these young people because afterwards I love hearing the reflections on how that break from social media actually improves Those reflections are so incredible, but not only do they reflect on what it was like to be on that detox, But they start to make active plans for better managing their relationship with social media in the future because they now can see under like a microscope how different life could be and how much better it could be if they had that they moved away from that addiction into a place of using it as a tool. So there's my little detour on social media and pulling us out of a state of flow. But let's get back to this true fun idea. So playfulness, Connection, Flow.

Michelle Dittmer - 11:58

I want to paint a very personal picture because I think it really illustrates a lot about true fun. Now I walk my kids to school and after a rain there are puddles on the way to school and my little kids love to jump in the puddles and when they do it they are truly having true fun. There is joy, there is playfulness, they are in flow, they're connecting with those Myself when I walk to school with my grown-up brain, there are certain things that go on in my head. The first thing is this self-judgement.

Like, who am I to do something so silly as to jump in a puddle? I am a full-fledged grown-up.

I have more important things, more productive things, more meaningful things, or insert whatever grown-up word you want here. I've got more important things to do. But there's also that fear of judgement from others. Like what will people think if they saw me jumping in that puddle? And that truly is one of the things that keeps me from jumping in those puddles. But you know what? When I surrender and I say, I don't care, this is going to be fun.

I don't care what people are going to think about me, I don't care that I have other things, that I'm a grown up, I'm going to have fun and I'm going to jump in those puddles. Let me tell you it is fun to jump in puddles so if you get an opportunity figure out how to let go of that judgement and just go for it. But the other thing that I also really am surprised by but I also love with all my heart is when other grown-ups see me jumping in puddles and having so much fun, they start to smile too because it awakens that sense of playfulness in themselves and to see a grown-up actually having true fun like that is inspiring and exciting and just so wonderful.

So this is my challenge to you is to get out there and to jump in some puddles or heading into the winter months go do the tobogganing or slide on that ice whatever it is that you think might bring you joy but you're hesitant because you're a grown-up throw that out the window and just go for it. 

Michelle Dittmer - 14:35

So it seems like fun is much easier for kids but as we get older it gets harder and harder because life gets a little more serious, we get more responsibilities, all these things and specifically for teenagers it is really hard because it's when you are actively losing your ability to have

true fun.

Those responsibilities start landing on your lap, you've got homework, you've got a job, there are other things you need to take care of, you've got big life decisions that are coming up for you. There's so much that's going on in these teenage years where you're actively moving from a state of being able to have fun to one where it's much more challenging. I'm not sure if you've seen the reel that's out there but there's this young girl and she's sitting in the back seat kind of in her car seat but not tied in. And she's kind of got her head on the headrest of the driver's seat in front of her and she's having this breakdown just bawling saying, I don't want to become a grown-up. I just want to stay a kid. I don't want to have responsibilities and like the same kid and that's what our young people are going through and that's what they're experiencing is that morning of childhood and that ability to have fun with all of a sudden these pretty critical life decisions and that is a difficult transition.

Michelle Dittmer - 16:13

But let's get back to the book again. So what I really love about this book is that it coaches you through so it gives you the background but then it coaches you through how to cultivate more true fun in your life.

It takes you through the steps to identify the specific conditions that lead to fun for you because it's different for every single person whether you're an extrovert or an introvert or you like art or you like technology. It's gonna be different for everyone so she guides you through the steps to identify it. She calls it “a fun audit” So you go back and you think about all those times you had fun and what are the commonalities that were present in all those experiences and having that fun audit done once you have an awareness of those conditions then you can figure out how to put yourself in more scenarios that have those conditions where you're more likely to have real fun. But the opposite is also true. Once you know the stuff that's fun sucking for you, you can help to avoid some of those scenarios and therefore on both ends when you're increasing what works for you and decreasing what doesn't work for you, you're going to likely be able to have more true fun which I think the world so seriously needs right now.

Michelle Dittmer - 17:44

Now in our last book club meeting we were talking about true fun and the gappers that I were with were very clear for them that the ability to have fun was often contingent on their friends and their community and this idea that there were other people there but not just anyone these were trusted friends who had meaningful relationships and they were really central to being able to have true fun experiences.

Now this is very validating and very in line with all the brain science about what's going on.

Young people like to be validated by their peers and be given permission for that silliness or that playfulness. That feeling of connection is hardwired into their brains.

So we know that peers are influential in making life decisions, but for emerging adults it's also integral for them to be able to have fun, that power in numbers.

Sure we can all go slide down that hill together or roll down that hill in the summer or sure we can have a snowball fight. Now clearly we're heading into the winter here but whatever those things are that validation and that power in numbers is really important to them so I think that's really important to know that and For our young people, even for a lot of older people, having true fun can be much harder to do

when you are alone and again this just reinforces how important it is to build community on your gap year because if you want to have fun, you want to have a good time, gonna have to find that connection, whether that is joining a travel organisation and going on a group travel trip, whether it is connecting through our gap year GPS program with other gappers, whether that is joining a volunteer experience, whatever it happens to be, that community, that connection is going to be so central to the success of a gap year.

Michelle Dittmer - 20:00

Now I think one of the things about fun is how it resets us, how it revitalises us, how it gives us energy and this is crucial to our mental health. Fun is part of our mental health. And as we head into January and we're thinking about New Year's resolutions and we're thinking about how to be healthier next year, these are all the common themes that we think about, I want you to reflect on these questions that I have for you about fun. Because perhaps, just perhaps, your New Year's resolution should be centred around having more fun. If you believe in New Year's resolutions or maybe just in life a goal is to have more fun. So I want to leave you with a few questions that I want you to think deeply about, I want you to do a little mini fun audit for yourself.

When was the last time you had so much fun? Think about when was the last time you had so much fun? Think about who was there, what were you doing, what were the conditions that were present that allowed you to have so much fun, and it will probably bring a smile to your face as you think back on it, as you re-experience those feelings of true fun but I want you to think about it. When was the last time? And what were you doing? Who was there? What was going on? Now, the next question sometimes has an uglier answer. How long ago was that experience of true fun and is that amount of time a reasonable amount of time between having fun or would you like to have true fun more often? 

So really think about that. Are you experiencing true fun at a frequency That is realistic and fulfilling for you. What would it look like for you to be able to have true fun once a week? What would that look like for you? Is that something that's achievable and how could you put things into place to bring yourself closer to that reality? If your last memory of true fun was three years ago, okay, maybe once a week is too much, maybe it's once a month. But what can you do? How can you take control of your ability to have fun and put some of those things in place so you are more likely to have fun? 

Now I mentioned a little bit earlier that with my puddle jumping I struggle with that self filtering or self judgement and so my personal question for you or my personal challenge for you is can you be playful when you are all alone? What I would like you to try sometime in the next couple of days when you're by yourself in your house, everybody else has gone out for whatever reason, I want you to crank your favourite tune and I want you to pull out a pen, a hairbrush, a spoon, whatever. There's your microphone and I want you to put on a jaw-dropping concert all by yourself. Whether it's just that one song or the whole dang album, I want you to fight through that awkwardness and that self-judgment that is going to naturally happen at the very beginning because it's unfamiliar to most of us and I want you to fight through that and then I want you to embrace the fun of being that pop or rock star that you have bottled up inside you. And that is the activity I want you to give yourself.

So think about those questions, but also get out there and tap into your inner Taylor Swift or Freddie Mercury or whoever you want, but get out there and be playful and have some true fun by yourself.

Michelle Dittmer - 24:25 

I'm really looking forward to our next gap year book clubs with our next chat when we're actually going to go through the second half of the book together and pick our next book, who knows what it's going to be but really this is such a great book to read and I really encourage you all to spend time welcoming the new year with a good book that's going to set you up for a year that contains more true fun.

And again I can't recommend this book enough, it's the “Power of Fun” how to feel alive again By Catherine Price.

It is on repeat in my house and I really recommend it for each and every one of you.

And I know for me heading into the new year one of my goals is definitely to have more fun in 2024 and I hope that is true for you. So my friends, happy new year and until next time keep on adventuring! 

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