I’ve been taking improv comedy classes for a few months, and I love it.
Improv brings with it a bunch of benefits.
- You learn to think on your feet.
- You learn to make your partners look good.
- You add to the ideas of others rather than forcing your own.
- You learn to collaborate and trust other people.
- You get comfortable with public speaking and performing.
- You learn to listen rather than wait for your turn to speak.
Those are wonderful skills to work on and great reasons to take an improv class. But they’re not why I’m doing improv. I just want to goof off and have fun.
But there’s something about adulthood where I feel the need to justify it through “personal development.”
If you’re like me, you probably struggle with just having fun for the hell of it. I feel guilty if I spend too much of a Saturday playing video games because of all the “productive” things I could have done instead.
Tell someone you play basketball, and they’ll say, “That’s good cardio!” but rarely, “That sounds like fun!” They’re subconsciously repeating the cultural narrative where our activities have some greater purpose.
But all animals, adult humans included, are hardwired to play. Research shows that play:
- Reduces stress
- Release feel-good brain chemicals
- Improves brain function
- Make you more creative
- Builds social connections
- Improves your emotional well-being
So feed that list to the part of your brain that requires justification for everything you do. Rest and play make you much more productive and happier overall.
So if you find yourself trying to justify your fun through the lens of professional development or productivity, give yourself permission to just have fun.