By Gwenn Voelckers
When is the last time you laughed till your side hurt? Enjoyed a carnival ride? Played with a puppy? Or acted silly?
Sure, living alone can be serious business, what with all the chores and responsibilities that rest solely on our shoulders, but let’s not forget to laugh a little and have some fun along the way.
“Why focus on fun?” you might ask. Because having fun, letting your hair down and relaxing means letting go of your problems and worries for awhile.
When that happens, you have time to “breathe” emotionally. Not occupied with troubling thoughts, your mind is free to wander, which can make room for new insights and understanding. You see things in a different light. And what might seem insurmountable at the moment (a Saturday night alone) can become more manageable.
My life was no “barrelful of monkeys” after my divorce. In fact, having fun was a low priority on my to-do list. I was busy trying to put my life back together as a single person, and finding entertainment wasn’t among my goals.
But then I took a ride that changed everything.
A couple of friends, determined to rescue me from my somber existence, coaxed me to join them on a road trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Declaring that I would be no fun to be with, I nonetheless agreed to go. We poked around the island for a few days and then found our way to one of its most charming harbor towns, Oak Bluffs. It’s a magical little place that is home to colorful, whimsical cottages.
Oak Bluffs is also home to our nation’s oldest platform carousel.
I stood there admiring it, commenting on the warm patina of its “flying horses” and remarking on how much fun the kids were having. That’s when my friends elbowed me and said, “Oh, come on, let’s take a ride.” After complaining that I was just too old for that sort of thing, they ignored by protests and lifted me onto a bright yellow horse. It was so much fun! I loved it! I even grabbed for the brass ring, in hopes of winning a second free ride, but a fresh-faced 11-year-old beat me to it.
Riding that carousel made me giggle and laugh and feel like a kid again. It felt foreign and unfamiliar. But, more importantly, it felt fabulous! I was reminded of how much better my life could be if I just “got back on that horse” and made having fun a priority.
So things changed after my trip to Oak Bluffs. I became deliberate about weaving fun and laughter into my life. And I encourage you to do the same.
Below are a few tips to help you tickle what may be a dormant funny bone:
Hang out with fun (and funny!) people. My sister Anne is the funniest person I know. Opportunities to be with her trump almost everything else on my calendar. We laugh, poke fun at each other, and otherwise just enjoy each other’s company.
When I’m with Anne, my cares drift away and life is good. Take a look at the people you hang out with. While we all need supportive friend with whom we can sort through life’s difficulties, we also need some fun-loving souls. Be sure to connect with them on a regular basis.
Diversify your entertainment. While I love classical music performances and can’t resist the showing of an Ingmar Bergman film classic, those events don’t tickle my funny bone. No, to have fun, I need to dance till the cows come home or watch people make lighthearted fools of themselves in a karaoke club.
When’s the last time you went bowling, played a midway game or went to a comedy club? There’s no time like the present!
See the humor around you. I’ve also discovered that we don’t have to manufacture our own amusement. It’s there for the taking, if we just look around. Yesterday, I saw something funny happening right in front of my eyes. A dog was pacing back and forth in the back seat of the car ahead of me, sticking its head out the windows on each pass. It looked ridiculous!
I could have observed this scene with indifference, but I decided to enjoy the moment and embrace its inherent humor. Do the same. Enjoy the absurdity that surrounds us.
And finally, be silly and don’t take yourself too seriously. Oh, come on, you can do it! Let go, let loose. Life is short, time is precious, and, besides that, who cares what other people think?
I’m proud to say I’ve tried contra-dancing, laughed out loud while watching America’s Funniest Home Videos, sung in the shower, and found great joy on a swing, perfecting my leg-pumping and jumping-off skills. You get the point. It feels good to be silly.
There’s nothing like a little fun and a good laugh to brighten your day and lift your spirits, whether you live alone or not. So go for it. Grab for that brass ring. And enjoy the ride!
Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Live Alone and Thrive, empowerment workshops for women held throughout the year in Mendon, New York. For information about her workshops or to invite her to speak, call 585-624-7887, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.