Mike Rucker on the Science of Fun | Episode 118

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Dr. Michael Rucker is a peer-reviewed author with over a decade of professional writing experience. For many years he served as the Health Tech expert for About, Inc’s Verywell Health and is currently the Chief Digital Officer for Active Wellness, a global health management company ranked in the top 40 by Club Industry. This year Dr. Rucker was also tapped by HIMSS as a top 10 health influencer. He has been published in the academic journals International Journal of Workplace Health Management and Nutrition Research and featured in the Wall Street JournalForbes, CIO.com, and elsewhere.

Dr. Rucker is a prolific writer and sought-out speaker on the science of fun, as well as an avid blogger who has interviewed over 100 thought leaders for his website, michaelrucker.com. He can also be found on Instagram under the handle @thewonderoffun.

Each day for Michael may look vastly different as he blocks out an amount of time for what needs doing but doesn’t put a set-time they need doing at therefore allowing him to approach his work in a modular fashion. He subscribes to the idea of habitual behaviors and therefore this also benefits his approach with modular working. This is because he is different from most in the sense that he is able to shift from one activity to another without any transfer cost in terms of focus.

Michael was at a point in his life, following hip surgery which stopped him from being able to competitively run, where although he had a lot of tools at his disposal, he wasn’t happy and so as a researcher he began to research into it. It was also around the time his younger brother had passed away. He had a lot of “happiness” tools but realized they were not making a difference. He found a lot of what was out there was around childhood development and games and started piecing together what was there, he realized if you do apply fun as an action-orientated approach to pulling yourself out of despair it tends to have much higher efficacy than a lot of things that we prescribe. Michael believes something that isn’t talked about enough is simply enjoying what you’re doing and ultimately you don’t have to feel happy but you can enjoy joy and delight in the things you are doing. He realized that with the training he had he was optimizing for happiness but focusing on fun allows for sadness, which happens under many circumstances like the ones he was going through, makes more sense.

He believes one of the best ways of bringing fun into things is by analyzing your week and looking at areas that are not taken up by anything and filling them with activities that bring joy and delight. Another way is by looking at the activities that do already bring you joy and redesigning it. There are many things involved here and we went on for a while talking about how we can take responsibility over fun in our lives, and also what is the influence of our boss at work.

A best practice in terms of approaching fun for Michael is to understand what is fun for you, the individual as a lot of people may have forgotten what is fun to them if it’s been a long time or what is fun to them might have changed over time. Another idea Michael presented is that simple mindset shifts have been proven time after time to make a huge impact.

Michael would like to hear Annie Duke who wrote the book Thinking in Bets on the podcast as he thinks she has a unique way of thinking about life been an ex-poker professional. Another book he would also recommend is The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman as the toolkit that he provides in this book is very practical and has found it very useful for going on stage.

His favorite game is a game called Majestic which is a game that integrated with your life as they would send you emails, faxes and even calls to your phone and it’s something that he really enjoyed. Michael would say his superpower is coalescing ideas, the idea of borrowing from multiple disciplines of science is what is levitating him as a thought leader in that space.

We can find him on his website, michaelrucker.com, also on Instagram as @thewonderoffun and on Twitter as @PerformBetter.


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