Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper: It’s Time to Have Some Fun
“Have fun is my message. Be silly. You’re allowed to be silly. There’s nothing wrong with it.” — Jimmy Fallon
A few days ago, a friend said to me, “Maria, you have got to start going out more! You have got to start having more fun!”
Her words landed like a thud because I knew she was right. I love my work, but for the most part, it’s pretty serious stuff. I’ve also noticed that if you’re not careful, your life can end up drowning in all sorts of seriousness as you get older.
So, I decided to take my friend’s advice to heart and make fun my goal for this summer. I know fun can seem kind of trivial when the world feels like it’s falling apart, but it’s actually an important tool that we can use to recharge. It’s also an ingredient to a life with purpose and the optimism we need to keep moving forward.
At my dinner table this week, I asked my daughter Christina and her friend Claire (both who are lots of fun) about the role of fun in their lives. Christina said it’s important to have friends who can make you laugh at just about anything. Claire said she enjoys going out, dancing, and talking to all kinds of different people.
Now, I don’t go out dancing, but I do have a monthly poker night at my house that’s pretty fun. I also go to New York once a month for The Today Show, and when I’m there I try to hang out with my cousins and friends who make me laugh. And when I’m back home, I also hang out with my kids a bunch, which I always find to be great fun.
My point is that my life isn’t short on joy, but I still know that I could do a better job of getting out of my house and consciously adding more fun into my life.
So, already this week, I decided to push myself to do something I wouldn’t have done before. I went to my friend Susan’s house for a special gathering. Ordinarily, after a busy work day, I would have just said no. But this time, I said “yes.” I’m so glad that I did.
Susan became a lawyer after her kids were in high school (how cool is that?) and she now works at The Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. She is one of those friends who always seems to be having fun. She’s got a great boyfriend, great kids and deep, meaningful work.
At Susan’s house that night, there was a panel discussion featuring five young men who had been convicted of crimes as juveniles. (Two were wrongly convicted, and the other three were released after going through a special parole process for juveniles.) One of them was named Hugo.
Hugo recounted a conversation he once had with former California Gov. Jerry Brown, who commuted his life sentence for good behavior and enabled him to get out of prison early. Hugo said that Gov. Brown told him that politics is 90 percent bullshit. The other 10 percent is discovering what you were passionate about as a kid and having the courage to fight for it as a public servant.
I love that advice because it’s so true. I also loved listening to these guys tell their own stories because they were all open, vulnerable, smart, thoughtful and inspiring. It was fun hearing what they had to say because their voices felt authentic and real.
After the discussion, Hugo walked across the room and introduced himself to me. He approached me with a big smile and a welcoming handshake. (Turns out, he works with one of my heroes, Father Gregory Boyle, who I recently interviewed for my “Meaningful Conversations” podcast. I really hope you’ll listen because Father Boyle is doing life-changing work each and every day with former gang members and the formerly incarcerated.)
Hugo’s joy was infectious, and his appreciation for his new life was humbling. I loved meeting him because we really connected on a human level as we talked about gratitude, redemption and the gift of freedom. Connecting, it turns out, is one of my favorites ways to have fun, feel joyful and hopeful. It makes me feel less alone in our big, wide world.
Listening to these young men talk about prison may not be a typical “good time,” but I drove home that night feeling happy. I was happy that I had gotten out of the house, happy that I had met Hugo, and happy that I had heard a meaningful conversation about real-life stuff.
I felt a lightness when I got home that night. I felt gratitude. I even said to myself, “Maria, you do have got to get out more! That was fun!”
So this week, I want to encourage you to ask yourself: “What’s my idea of fun? Am I having any? What makes me laugh out loud? Who makes me laugh? Can I laugh at myself?”
Yes, there are a lot of issues to worry and care about these days. But having fun is good for your health, heart and soul. As for me, I’m glad that I stepped outside my comfort zone this week, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my summer has in store.
P.S. If you’re interested in finding out more about the clinic where Susan works, click here.
Dear God, thank you for the chance to wake up each morning and see the world anew. May I approach my days with light, joy and wonder, and pass that feeling on to others.
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INSPIRING VIEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
Why Did Actor Gary Sinise Commit Himself to Supporting Our Nation’s Defenders? Read Our Exclusive Q & A.is
In an exclusive Q & A interview with The Sunday Paper on this Memorial Day Weekend, actor, advocate, and author Gary Sinise (“Grateful American”) reveals his journey “from self to service.”
Why Has Journalist Lee Woodruff Made Veterans’ Advocacy Her Calling? Our New Columnist Offers Her Personal Reflection.
On this Memorial Day weekend, Sunday Paper columnist Lee Woodruff, founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, wants us to “remember the 1% of our population who served and may have returned from the wars changed, bearing physical and invisible scars they will carry for the rest of their lives.”
If You Want To Build Strong And Satisfying Relationships, Read What These Experts Have to Say
In their groundbreaking book, “Getting the Love You Want,” Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt offer techniques and strategies for building and strengthening deeply satisfying relationships. Harville and Helen recently shared an excerpt from the first chapter of their book with our friends at 1440 Multiversity.
On My Podcast, Father Greg Boyle Talks About His Life-Changing Work with Ex-Gang Members
Do You Want to Climb a New Mountain? Author David Brooks Tells You How.
In his latest book “The Second Mountain,” political commentator and New York Times columnist David Brooks explores what it takes to lead a meaningful life in a self-centered world.
Can a Dog Change Your Life? Katherine Schwarzenegger Has the Answer.
NEWS ABOVE THE NOISE
1. Our Architect of the Change of the Week
16-year-old Greta Thunberg is a Swedish climate activist who has managed to get the attention of the entire world. Featured on the cover of Time magazine, Thunberg inspired the #youthstrike4climate on March 15, in which 1.6 million people participated.
2. News You May Have Missed
Ireland has criminalized emotional abuse with a new domestic violence law. According to a report from CNN, the new domestic violence act provides protections for victims of “coercive control.”
6. Yippee! Moment of the Week
This fun video was sent to us by SP ambassador Maria Deneau. A choir group in Cincinnati orchestrated a flash mob at their local Kroger to promote an upcoming concert. Enjoy!
THE SUNDAY PAPER IS A PROUD PARTNER OF THE WOMEN’S ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT
Alzheimer’s Continue To Be Stigmatized. Dr. Daniel Potts Tells Us How to Put An End to That.
Dr. Daniel Potts, a neurologist affiliated with the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alabama, discusses the root cause of the pervasive and toxic stigma associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia.
THE SUNDAY DINNER CLUB
The Sunday Dinner Club: We here at The Sunday Paper believe in meaningful conversations around the table, and we want to encourage you to have these kinds of gatherings around your table as well (on any night of the week that works for you). Each week, we’ll share a recipe, a conversation starter, and a prayer to get you going.
Here Are the Ingredients of a Meaningful Dinner: 1) Set an intention. 2) Say Grace. 3) Serve healthy food. 4) Start talking. 5) Be open-minded and listen.
A Recipe For Your Dinner: This healthy and refreshing recipe for Watermelon Salad With Feta & Cucumber is from our content partners at A Couple Cooks.
This Week’s Conversation Starter: How do you define fun? What’s the most fun you’ve had lately?
A SUNDAY REFLECTION
SHOP, SHOP SHOP! AThe Maria Shriver Collection: Good for You, Your Mind, & the World
Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com to get Maria’s book “I’ve Been Thinking,” her coloring book for Alzheimer’s “Color Your Mind,” the Maria candle, Rivet Revolution bracelets benefiting The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, her new Maria BrainHQ program, and more!
PRAISE FOR THE SUNDAY PAPER
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