Unleashing the Power Of Fun (plus my 4-Part Sensational Summer Blueprint)

power of fun

Listen to the full podcast episode to rediscover what it means to have fun and how ESSENTIAL it is to unleash the power of fun in your life.

The other weekend, my husband and son left for a three-and-a-half-day trip to Boston for a hockey tournament. With that, I was looking forward to doing a few things just for myself – just for fun.

But, instead of diving into my list of fun things to do like immersing myself in a juicy novel, going to the movies alone, sitting in my backyard until the stars came out, or going for ice cream with the Jeep top down, I found myself submerged in more “productive” activity. You know, activities that have a “purpose.” I booked reservations for a future trip, finished several emails, and I even gave the grout in the bathroom a good scrub. 

There it was.  I was seeing in myself what I often hear from so many of my clients.

That is, as much as we crave breaking from our routine for an activity that is for our pure enjoyment, we have a hard time giving ourselves permission to embrace it. 

If you’re someone who finds yourself thinking,  “I’ll enjoy fun once everything that produces tangible results and pleases others is complete,” you’re not alone.

In our uber-goal-focused society, we are conditioned to feel guilty, indulgent, or like we’re underperforming if we are not productive in every moment.  We see fun as a luxury to experience in our optimal future even when it’s right in front of us.

The truth is that  research confirms something quite different:

Far from being frivolous, self-indulgent, irresponsible, or even selfish, having fun is actually ESSENTIAL to a life well played.  

Let’s dive into a little science behind it.

Studies show that when we allow ourselves to unleash the power of fun (to play, so to say), it increases our brain’s production of a protein called BDNF – brain-derived neurotrophic factor – which stimulates nerve growth in areas of our brains associated with decision making. 

Studies also show that adults who continue to play are less prone to dementia and heart disease. Adding play as a regular part of your life obviously fuels our happiness and satisfaction, but more significant than that is the effect playfulness has on increasing the quality and quantity of our relationships and longevity. 

The longest study on happiness, the Grant Study that began in 1938 with 164 sophomores at Harvard University found when these men turned 50, the biggest factor between men who had aged well and those who didn’t was the quality of their relationships.  And playfulness is a solid contributor to improving the quality of the connection in our relationships. 

*If you’re interested in learning more about that study, check out the TEDx talk “What Makes a Good Life” with Robert Waldinger which talks more about the lessons learned from the longest study on happiness.

What we’re seeing is that all work and no play doesn’t just make you boring, it wrecks your physical, mental, emotional, and relationship health too.

All around us are opportunities to have fun. For us to embrace them, however, first we must destroy the idea that we must always be working or that activity must serve some purpose to be worthy. We also must be as deliberate about our fun as we are about our work.

Years ago, I created a simple and fun ritual that allowed me to easily add more playfulness to my days during the summer months. Today, I want to share it with you and challenge you to up-level your fun factor for just the next 90 days. Consider it a Fun Factor Challenge. 

This go-to routine is called my Sensational Summer Blueprint.

I do it at the start of every summer, committing to just 90 days of allowing myself to break with my routines, guaranteeing that I embrace my fun side. Let’s get into it.

Part 1: Create your fun Summer Bucket List.

Simply begin by answering the question:  What would make this summer astonishingly fun?  Write your list.  Be sure to review it at least once a week.  

Part 2: Identify your 3 qualities.

These are the 3 qualities that when you lead from them will ensure you show up to receive and create the experiences on your Bucket List.  This year, mine are: “playful,” “fully engaged,” and “spontaneous.” 

Part 3: Write a letter to yourself 90 days into the future. 

Imagine it’s Labor Day and you’ve had a wildly fun summer. In this letter, include all the small moments you wish for yourself to have alone or with others, along with any big, absurd experiences you desire.  Place the letter in a self-addressed envelope, seal it, and set a reminder to open the letter on Labor Day weekend.  You won’t be the same person you were when you wrote it.  It’s fun to witness yourself.

Part 4: Begin the 1-minute Summer Journal. 

I call it “1-minute” because that’s all it takes. Each day during this challenge, keep a small journal where you jot down 1 thing that day that was fun. You can also do this on a single piece of paper that you keep in your wallet. Be sure to capture something daily. Then 90 days from now which is Labor Day if you are listening to it in real-time, reminisce about the fun. You will double your pleasure when you do…  

And there you have it. I hope you consider giving yourself permission to let the summer unfold and be fueled by what brings you joy and playfulness. True warriors know how to take a break, pause, restore, and have fun.

*If you want to take part in this 90-day Fun Factor Challenge, let me know by emailing me or messaging me on LinkedIn. I want to know that you’re taking part in the challenge and some of the fun things you’re most looking forward to this summer to unleash the power of fun again. 

Tune into this episode of Playing Full Out to learn why fun is an essential part of a well-rounded life and for some ideas to add more fun to your daily life. 

In this episode I share:

  • My 4-part Sensational Summer Blueprint to easily bring more fun into your life again this summer
  • A personal story that reminded me it’s time to get my play on
  • Some examples of things you can add to your summer bucket list
  • The benefits of adding more fun back into your life
  • Simple ways to start having fun again that don’t cost a dime


Resources and related episodes:


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About Rita Hyland

With over 20 years of experience as an executive and leadership coach, Rita helps leaders — emerging and established — excel in corporate and entrepreneurial environments.

Rita believes if leaders were more clear about how transformation really works and more intentional about creating what they want, their impact, success, and influence in the world would be unstoppable.

Through her coaching programs, private coaching, and masterminds, Rita shows leaders how to win consistently and create the impact and legacy they desire.

Central to Rita’s work is the understanding that you will never outperform your current programming, no matter how strong your willpower.

When you learn to use Rita’s proprietary Neuroleadership Growth Code, a technology which uses the best of neuroscience and transformational psychology to hit the brain’s buttons for change, YOU become both the solution and the strategy.

Her mission is to end talented, hard-working, and self-aware leaders spending another day stuck in self-doubt or confusion and not contributing their brilliant work and talent the world so desperately needs.

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