If You’re Not Having Fun, You’re Done

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If it’s not fun, why are we doing it?

The art of acting is based in play. And the science of play is quantifiable. When you start to play more, that which you want (in your life and your work) starts to show up. You get freed up to the moment. There is no attachment to end results. There is little self-criticism or self-sabotage. You are fully expressed. Science calls it “the flow.” You follow your instincts. Stop overthinking things and live more moment-to-moment.

I was babysitting my 6-year niece this weekend and I took her to Chipotle and watched (partly in terror) how much fun kids have. It was also demoralizing to see just how far we “adults” have migrated from our own centers of childlike enthusiasm, curiosity, and wonder. What happened?

I need a drink!

There’s not a lot of editing going on in a child’s creative experience. In fact, it’s the parents who are constantly jumping in and curbing their behavior. There was a report on NPR recently about how helicopter parenting is unhealthy because kids need unstructured, un-parented play for their emotional and cognitive development.

Now of course I’m not advocating that you let your kids run rampant at Chipotle, but I’m using this as an example of, Why do we get so serious about…well, everything?

Dr. Seuss said, “Adults are obsolete children.” We simply lose our connection to our own childlike play. Just because we’ve become adults doesn’t mean that this creative childlike essence isn’t still alive within us. It’s just buried under years of doubt and cynicism and becoming practical.

A life in the arts isn’t “practical.” (One could argue that life itself isn’t either.)

Acting isn’t serious (nor is it really that hard). Kids do it every day and they don’t seem to strain themselves in the attempt to play.

Creating isn’t doom and gloom unless you’ve been taught to believe it is.

All feeling of expression comes from the baseline feeling of the joy of actually being alive. Even working on material that’s scary or intense, the spirit of how it needs to be offered to optimally create is in joy.

Nothing is keeping us from being happy but our stubborn refusal to choose happiness and stop focusing on what isn’t working in our lives. It’s a choice. Always. We can choose to look at life through the lens of lack, scarcity, and what hasn’t happened yet, or we can choose to see things from the truth of how they actually are.

And that is, the mere fact that we’re alive here right now is a blessing.

We get stuck because we are influenced—and brainwashed—by the should’s. We compare ourselves to these mythical pictures perpetuated by the media of what we’re told our lives will look life when we get all the things that our society tells us we need in order to be happy. So we compare ourselves to illusions and standards of success that actually are not only unreal, but not happiness-sustainable. Sure, they can make us feel good or gratified, but long-term happiness comes not from things but from a state of being that involves choice.

You can’t negotiate around the should’s. They will always win—and also keep you unhappy.

“I should be further along in my career.”
“I should have booked a pilot.”
“I should have an agent.”
“I should be married by now.”

If you should have, you would have. Let go of those constructs that rob us of playing with what we have now and instead simply just try to have more fun with where you are now.

The reward? More fun itself.

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Anthony Meindl
Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer-director-producer, creativity expert, inspirational speaker, and artistic director of Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop (AMAW) with studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, Sydney, and Vancouver.
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