I’ve been discussing with my clients recently what they’d like to do more of and less of in this year. A common theme? More fun. Sometimes our work persona can dull our sense of play and fun. Mike Rucker, PhD joins us to discuss his new book The Fun Habit: How the Pursuit of Joy and Wonder Can Change Your Life and how you can renew your sense of fun and retire happy.
Mike Rucker joins us from North Carolina.
In no particular order, Mike Rucker is a: Author. Father. Husband. Organizational psychologist and behavioral scientist. Recovering entrepreneur. Fitness enthusiast with mechanical parts. VW Bus aficionado. Seeker. Traveler. Future astronaut.The story he tells in his book The Fun Habit starts in 2016 when the tools he knew as a student of positive psychology suddenly failed him during one of his life’s most difficult stretches. Finding himself unhappy, a bit lonely, and burnt out, he began to critically evaluate modern approaches to happiness. He quickly realized how much misinformation is out there about happiness. Years of research coalesced as The Fun Habit—an action-based approach that helps you critically examine your pursuit of happiness and make adjustments using evidence-based practices to invite more fun and joy in your life.Every story has many beginnings. A major commitment to fun as an intentional way of life came in 2007 when Mike announced the Live Life Love project, where he publicly committed himself to 25 years of documented self-development and self-discovery. After a long stint as an entrepreneur, he was heading back to Corporate America, and wanted to make sure that he continued to experience and contribute to this collaborative effort we all call “Life.”The rules of the project are straightforward. From 2007 to 2032, Mike has committed to interviewing two thought leaders each quarter, or 200 in total. He has also committed to experiencing something new each quarter by way of an interesting life event, activity, or trip, ensuring that by the end of 2032, he will have 100 unique experiences to relish when the project concludes. Finally, Mike has committed to contributing a year’s salary and a year’s work hours to charity.The project officially kicked off in 2007, but its spark was lit in 2005 when he took an early interest in peak performance and positive psychology. Through good fortune, he was introduced to an early mentor, Dr. Mike Gervais, and was also invited to be one of the first charter members of the International Positive Psychology Association. During this period, he was a sponge, soaking up knowledge from these emerging fields of psychology and using what he learned to personally thrive.So that’s how it started. How’s it going? In 2020, he reached the project’s halfway point.
During all this, Mike also became a peer-reviewed and widely published author, including his new book The Fun Habit. For many years he served as the Health Tech expert for About, Inc’s Verywell Health. He is currently on sabbatical from being an executive for Active Wellness. Mike has been published in the academic journals International Journal of Workplace Health Management and Nutrition Research, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Fast Company,Psychology Today, Forbes, Vox, Thrive Global, Mindful, mindbodygreen, and elsewhere. In all, he has earned five advanced degrees, including a Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and an MBA from the University of Southern California. He’s a member of the American Psychological Association, International Positive Psychology Association, and an accredited member of the American College of Sports Medicine.Somewhere along the way, Mike also met his better half, Anna, and produced two tenacious kids while still finding some space for civic engagement and social contribution, resulting in various accolades, including a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate and a Congressional Commendation from the U.S. House of Representatives. Not bad for someone whose name first appeared on the Internet as the guy who swept the floors on Baywatch.
For More on Mike Rucker
Podcast Episodes You May LikeThe Power of Fun – Catherine PriceHappier Hour – Cassie Holmes, PhDTiny Habits Can Lead to Big Changes – BJ FoggThe Joy of Movement – Kelly McGonigal
Wise QuotesOn Creating an Upward Spiral
“… you realize that you have a lot more control than you initially thought about in how you engage in activities and once that starts to create this upward spiral. Because once you get playful about that again, if you’re going through some big change, like I mentioned, or going through divorce or I know for your listeners are thinking about retirement, which is a big change in itself, it can feel overwhelming. But you can go into these things realizing that you do have more control than you initially thought, especially if you’ve let your life get habituated, which so many of us have.”
On Rethinking How We Spend Time
“And so if we’re not deliberate about how we spend our time, we’re really giving all of our time away. And if we’re not deliberate about leisure, a lot of times we end the day with not enough vitality to do anything. And so it really requires a re-architecture of how we’re spending our time. Joe, I know that’s what you do with a lot of folks in your own practice. Look at those rhythms of life that kind of have gone astray and understand that it’s not a selfish act to take some time off the table for yourself. If you have that purview of you’re really doing stuff from a sense of duty, realize that enjoying a little bit of your week for yourself allows you to show up to be the best version of yourself when you are there for your loved ones.”
On Learning from Children
“..a little bit of original research that I did for the upcoming book, The Fun Habit was I went to children’s museums. I was really there for a different reason, but I got fascinated about how adults kind of lose the ability to play. And then I realized that the research I was doing was actually replicated. And there are good reasons for that. As adults, we really become linear in our thinking. We want to understand what is asked of us and then we do the thing, right? And that’s really unfortunate because that stifles creativity. And so what we can learn from kids is just watch how they play. They don’t need rules. There’s this concept in science that the map is not the territory. And where we get hung up as adults is we really need a map to explore the territory where the kids don’t care when they go to a playground, they just take it all in. Especially young kids like the awe and wonder they see in a new environment. And we’ve just lost that lust for life. And so if you can get in a playful mindset, and really act like a kid again, that reminds you of all of the curiosity and creativity you once had. And oftentimes that’s all it takes to really enjoy yourself again… It becomes magical for most people.”
About Your Podcast HostJoe Casey is an executive coach who also helps people design their next life after their primary career. He created his own next chapter after a twenty-six-year career at Merrill Lynch, where he was Senior Vice President and Head of HR for Global Markets & Investment Banking.
Today, in addition to his work with clients, Joe hosts The Retirement Wisdom Podcast, which thanks to his guests and loyal listeners, ranks in the top 1.5 % globally in popularity by Listen Notes. Business Insider has recognized him as one of 23 innovative coaches who are making a difference.