Insight 5

Do what’s fun for you.

“Just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t make it fun for me.”

Studies have shown that, if you want to feel happy, it’s not enough to simply avoid feeling bad, you also have to find sources of feeling good.

While in the pursuit of these sources, however, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone has a different idea of what’s fun. Some of us love wild parties and spontaneous weekend trips. Others prefer good books and intimate conversations. It’s good to push yourself to try new experiences – both for the rush derived from novelty and the chance to discover something you might like – but it’s just as valuable to let yourself pass on a “fun” activity if you don’t truly find it enjoyable. As Gretchen revealed, “I tended to overrate the fun activities that I didn’t do and underrate my own inclinations. I felt like the things that other people enjoyed were more valuable, or more cultured… more, well, legitimate…. I needed to acknowledge to myself what I enjoyed, not what I wished I enjoyed.”

Many adults don’t know what they find fun. One way to gain insight into what you find fun is to answer this simple question: “What did I like to do when I was ten years old?” By thinking back to what you liked to do as a ten-year-old, you may rediscover a number of fun activities that still appeal to you. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Carl Jung, who began playing with building blocks again at the age of thirty-eight, to reignite the enthusiasm of his eleven-year-old self.

Finally, Gretchen mapped out three types of fun: challenging fun, accommodating fun, and relaxing fun.

Challenging fun
This type of fun requires time and energy to prepare for, but is usually immensely satisfying. Example: taking a road trip.

Accommodating fun
This type of fun can also be stressful, but it tends to strengthen important relationships, too. Examples: attending a family holiday party or taking your kids to the park.

Relaxing fun
The easiest type of fun to be had, though not particularly rewarding in the long run. Examples: watching TV or taking a nap.

“I love the idea of playing chess, going to a lecture on international markets, doing crossword puzzles, getting a pedicure, eating dinner at a hot new restaurant, or having a subscription to the opera or season tickets to the Knicks. I can see exactly why other people enjoy those activities. I wish I enjoyed them. But I don’t.”

VIDEO 5: Watch Gretchen talk about how she rethought her version of fun.

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