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We all know people who seem to attract fun.
They’re the friends whose presence at a dinner party guarantees that everyone is going to have a good time. They exude warmth, playfulness and self-confidence, and people always appear happy to have them around.
• They’re spontaneous.
• They’re at ease with themselves and comfortable in their own skin.
• They’re not afraid to be silly.
• They’re not afraid to try new things and to be a beginner.
• They’re not afraid to be vulnerable.
• They’re appreciative of the small things.
• They find joy in being alive.
• You never feel judged by them.
• They make everyone feel included.
• They’re considerate of others’ feelings.
• They get excited with you.
• They create wonderful, shared memories.
What might not have occurred to you is that it’s possible for you to become one of those people yourself, even if you think of yourself as shy or introverted.
Very few of the characteristics mentioned were genetically determined and you don’t need to be extroverted to be considered fun.
In fact, many of the qualities people mentioned — such as being considerate of other people’s feelings — are things that introverts do naturally.
What’s more, many of the traits that make people seem fun are the result of choices and habits practiced over days and years. This means that, counterintuitive though it may seem, being a “fun” person is a skill we can develop.
The primary thing that separates people who attract fun from their peers is their attitude. They approach life in general with what I call a “fun mindset”
Having a fun mindset refers to the habit of intentionally approaching and reacting to your life in a way that is attractive to fun — or, more specifically, true fun, which I define as the confluence of playfulness, connection and flow.
The secret to developing a fun mindset is to deliberately seek out as many opportunities as you can in order to create or appreciate playfulness, connection and flow.
Here are some specific suggestions for how to do so.
Being “easy-to-laugh” is one of the most powerful ways to nurture a fun mindset.
We all enjoy spending time with people who make us laugh and who laugh a lot themselves. The easier you are to laugh (and the more things you can find to laugh about) the more attractive you’ll be, both to other people and to fun. And, to point out the obvious, you’ll also spend more time laughing, which in itself will make you feel good.
“Yes, and” is a technique (and philosophy) derived from improv comedy in which you respond to new ideas and suggestions by agreeing with them (the “yes”) and building on them (the “and”).
You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own. If I start a scene with ‘I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,’ and you just say, ‘Yeah … ’ we’re kind of at a standstill. But if I say, ‘I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,’ and you say, ‘What did you expect? We’re in hell.
It's about deliberately choosing not to shoot down ideas, but instead to affirm and build on them — as a way to strengthen your fun mindset by opening yourself to spontaneity, making other people feel included, and becoming more adaptive (and, for that matter, less of a wet blanket).
Another way to develop a fun mindset is to regularly — and explicitly — ask yourself, “How could I add a bit of playfulness, connection or flow to whatever I’m doing or experiencing right now?”
You can do this whether you’re with other people or alone, and your ideas don’t have to be earth-shattering to be effective.
Approaching life with a fun mindset can affect your moment-to-moment experience and improve your mood. Figuring out ways to add even teensy bits of playfulness, connection and flow to your everyday activities can also help objectively non-fun activities feel more tolerable.
In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and, snap! The job’s a game.
One of the play signals dogs use is the bow they perform when they try to get another dog to play with them — they lunge onto their front elbows, stick their bottoms in the air, and wag their tails. An example of a play signal in humans would be brief eye contact combined with a smile or a comment that invites conversation. Even a playfully sarcastic line can work, such as “Nice weather we’re having” when you’re in the midst of a snowstorm.
This is one of the many ways in which our interactions with our devices are getting in the way of fun: Instead of sending play signals, we’re all staring down at our screens. With no signals, there are no invitations to play, and no play happens. Making a point to look up from your phone and send play signals is a wonderful way to invite more playful interactions — and ultimately, more fun — into your life.
And if you’re still feeling insecure or apprehensive about putting yourself out there, remember that anything you do to attract fun is a gift to the people you’re with. As bestselling author Michael Lewis points out, “People don’t want to have a boring life, or even a boring conversation. They’re just risk averse. If you create an environment where there’s no reason to be afraid, all of a sudden, things loosen up.” In other words, everyone wants to have fun; they just don’t know how.
The more you cultivate your own fun mindset, the more fun you’ll attract — and the better equipped you’ll be to invite others to join you.
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