Use SPARK to Discover Your Spark
When was the last time you felt truly alive—when you felt deep joy, experienced an unmistakable bond and were fully engaged? You might be struggling to think of a recent time, or even if it was, it could feel like it was more of an isolated event than a regular occurrence. That’s okay. You are not the only one.
Author Catherine Price recently detailed this idea in her book “The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again.” She describes moments of true fun as “the confluence of playfulness, connection and flow.” These three elements combine to create enlivening experiences that are good for our physical, emotional, and social well-being. However, moments of playful, connected flow are unpredictable when they aren’t given attention or effort. While Price acknowledges that it isn’t always easy to cultivate true fun, the pursuit is undoubtedly worth it. Here’s how you can get started.
Where to Start
Fun is a very subjective experience. What is fun for you may not be fun for your partner, family members, friends or co-workers. But, you may also be wondering what fun is to you. One of the resources Price offers with her book is a fun compatibility quiz. You can use this quiz to better understand your fun style and that of those close to you. The quiz can also help you identify what she calls “fun magnets”—the characteristics, activities, situations and people that are likely to attract fun.
Once you understand your fun style, you can begin identifying the moments of playfulness, connection and flow already occurring. This could be as simple as briefly noting these as they happen or, in some cases, shortly following. As Price suggests, you could also turn this process into an exercise by keeping a journal. No matter how small or fleeting, try capturing all your moments of playfulness, connection and/or flow for at least two weeks. Write them down in your journal and label each moment with a P, C, F or any combination of the three. At the end of the two or more weeks, review these moments and look for patterns in the types of things you were doing, the people you were with, where you were or what devices or objects might have been present.
Now that you have a grasp on the characteristics, activities, situations and people that are more likely to facilitate playful, connected flow, you can use Price’s acronym SPARK to put this information into action.
S: Make space. The idea here isn’t necessarily to add another thing to your to-do list. Try looking at your current daily routine and identify where you could reevaluate some priorities or remove distractions. Consider blocking time on your calendar to explore playfulness, connection or flow. Or, take a hard look at how much time you spend on your devices. As Price notes in the book, “our lives are what we pay attention to.”
P: Pursue passions. Do more of the things that delight you and get you into a flow state. These are your passions, interests and hobbies, both new and old. Don’t worry if they are individual pursuits—even those can lead to connection and future moments of true fun.
A: Attract fun. This step is both a practice and a mindset. You can set yourself up to experience more true fun by using the fun magnets you previously identified. Spend more time exploring the characteristics, activities, situations and people that are more likely to facilitate playful, connected flow. But also be open to new experiences that you haven’t explored yet. As Price suggests, try “deliberately seeking out as many opportunities as you can to create—or appreciate—humor, absurdity, playfulness, connection, and flow.”
R: Rebel. Break up the monotony by rebelling against things like old habits, routines, traditions and expectations. You can do this by staying curious and asking yourself why more often. However, this is not an act of shirking your responsibilities or troublemaking.
K: Keep at it. Our lives are full of competing demands. True fun is not a once-and-done activity. The pursuit of playfulness, connection and flow is a skill. It requires continuous attention, effort and practice—but we know it’s worth it. Even small microdoses of playfulness, connection and flow are beneficial when you don’t have the time or energy for more.
Want to explore these concepts further? I recommend reading “The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again” by Catherine Price, listening to the three-episode series on the “Becoming Wildly Resilient” podcast, and checking out these opportunities to “(re)Discover Your Spark” from May 9-27, 2022.