Australian spiritual guru, SHAKTI DURGA says one should never feel guilty for taking time off, playing or doing things just for fun

One of the features of our modern world is the over-emphasis upon work, which rewards people for being productive but not for balancing that necessary part of life with rest and play.

The four Purusharthas or pillars of life in Vedic teaching and one of the key concepts of Hinduism are Dharma, Moksha, Artha and Kama. Simplified, one can take them to mean that one must do one’s duty and service, evolve spiritually, create wealth and abundance for oneself and others, and the last that is just as important is to find joy and have fun. All four together provide us with a recipe for a balanced life and are the four goals or aims of a human life.

Most people are pretty good at the first three. But Kama, the pillar of ‘enjoying life and having some fun and play’, often gets overlooked.

Fun is often seen as childish or inappropriate, and so we push it away. Fun is characterised through advertising as things like beach parties or exotic holidays, and if we cannot do that, or don’t see fun that way, we can consider ourselves boring. Then we feel guilty about being boring, then we isolate ourselves, and finally stop even looking for ways to have fun. This compounds psychological and physical issues. We overlook the simple things that bring us joy, fun and relaxation. These could be pursuits such as gardening, cooking, spending time with family or pets, even redecorating, or whatever works for you.

Shakti Durga

In The Fun Habit, Dr Mike Rucker, an organisational psychologist, lists health and wellbeing benefits and the restorative power of fun, as well as the issues that get in the way of people when they look for fun. He thinks we are living in an epidemic of drudgery that is destroying our mental and physical health and sapping our vitality! He claims that fun is as vital as sleep; we actually need it. Both fun and sleep are two of the eight needs that every healthy person must get. He believes that fun is essential to a happy and fulfilling life.

“We know, intuitively, that enjoying ourselves reduces stress but it goes far deeper than that. When we do something spontaneous, surprising or unexpected, we create special moments. When we’re indexing those memories, it creates neuro-plasticity,” Dr Rucker says. In other words, ‘fun’ is good for our brains.

But mainly because of our brainwashing that fun is silly, we workaholics actually have to train ourselves back into the groove of having fun. One of the ways to do this is by planning it back into our schedule. Rucker’s research disproves the prevailing mindset that in a meritocracy, we cannot afford to take our eyes of the goal post for even a few hours to relax and have fun.

Rucker has also created a tool to help us assess how we are spending our time based on his four PLAY quadrants which he calls Pleasing, Living, Agonising, Yielding.

Pleasing: This is low effort and high pleasure, such as knitting, listening to music, getting a pedicure or massage, reading, or eating out.

Living: This is high effort, high pleasure, like snow skiing, a surfing trip, whale or dolphin watching at sea, or whatever you find a bit challenging and rewarding.

Agonising: This could be hard tasks, low reward, usually jobs that you have to do like administrative stuff, paying bills or other work-related tasks.

Yielding: Low effort, low reward tasks such as being on social media and watching TV, or surfing while slumped on the couch.

Pleasing and Living tasks refill our fun cup but agonising tasks empty it.

We need to work, and we need to do administrative tasks. The knack is to refill the cup so that there is something in the tank to work with. This will also help ward off burn out and compassion fatigue.

Yielding offers absolutely nothing. It’s a waste of time. Rucker is of the opinion that people do this because they are exhausted.

Eliminate what you can from the Agonising and Yielding areas, and add to the Pleasing and Living areas. Recalibrating these quadrants is the key.

Be a pioneer and bring more play into your life. In France in 2015, they legislated the Right To Disconnect to enable workers to turn off work phones after working hours so that they could have more time for social interactions.

Shakti Durga is a leading international teacher of spiritual transformation. Her teachings inspire, elevate and offer practical, humorous and deeply insightful ways to navigate the human experience. She uses ancient wisdom tools to solve modern problems and help enlighten consciousness. She is the founder of The Well Being Initiative charity, with its head office in Australia.

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