(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr. Find out more at my newsletter.)
I’ve been writing (a lot) about fun and how we ruin fun, as well as how we ruin it for others. So let me take a moment to praise fun in glorious detail.
Yes, it may seem strange to list out the value of fun, as if this is some psychic spreadsheet. But this an act that not jut acts as a reminder to myself and others, but also lets us “short circuit” those times we or others try to be “practical.” Let’s show the practical value of supposed “impracticality”
FUN IS PURE EXPRESSION
Fun is about us. It’s pure expression of who we are. When we have fun, we’re being true to ourselves – indeed we’re being ourselves.
When we have fun, we’re acting in life without friction, and we’re being who we are. These moments are valuable, irreplaceable.
These moments may turn
out to be less pleasant than expected – we may find out a lot about
ourselves. What we enjoy may be a pathological escape, or it may show
some deep seated need. At least then we know.
Fun can be tricky.
FUN OPENS OUR MINDS
AND EXPANDS OUR HORIZON
I’ve seen multiple
ways of saying “when we have fun we’re really creative and open” so I
just said it without embellishment. When we have fun, we open our minds
because we’re enjoying life, and we’re open to new things (or things we
forgot). When we’re happy, we can see further because the walls are down
and our thoughts are going.
Fun also makes it so
we’re receptive. In a more relaxed state, an open state we can think new
thoughts and take in new ideas.
Ask yourself how many times you had a great idea or dream or vision in a moment of entertainment or idle relaxation.
FUN NARROWS OUR MINDS
As much as fun opens our minds, it can also narrow them as well. Hyperfocused on something, lost in the book or a game, our minds zoom in, becoming “open” in an intense way. Like a laser, our minds become a point on what we’re interested in, powerful and direct.
This can be a great
way to close out distractions, to silence troubled thoughts, or to go deep into
something we like. There we may find ourselves, find solace, or find new
ideas that the noise of life kept us from seeing.
Fun can be narrowing and broadening. Again, it’s tricky.
FUN PUMPS US UP
Fun can get us
energized, and sometimes we need that. We may need to get out of a funk,
or just get reminded of what we like, or rally ourselves. A game, a walk,
a good book can all do those things.
Fun goes right for those visceral thoughts and feelings, charges us up, and reminds us who we are. Ever have a cheesy movie or mindless but fun joke get you going? That’s the power of fun, even supposed “trash” that’s sincere energizes us.
FUN RELAXES US
Just as fun can open and narrow our minds, fun can energize us but also calm us down.
When we’re having fun we can be open and relaxed, being ourselves, defenses down. Even if our idea of fun is focusing intensely on a screen as our teammates in a video game do dumb things, that focus tunes out other stimuli. We may be intensely into something, but that intensely has little room for disruptive emotions and thoughts, so we may be relaxed in our own way.
Fun, that trickster, can
pump us up and calm us down at the same time.
FUN SHORT-CIRCUITS BAD
When we have fun, we often shut down assorted parts of our personality and various habits. With our anxieties and obsessions out of the way, with us in a state of joy, fun gives us a chance to be us without some of the baggage. This experience is incredibly valuable.
We often view our problems and pathologies as set – if we even notice them. To have moments when our issues and fears and so on stop is important as we can step outside of them, getting not just relief but a new perspective. We also may see bad habits we didn’t know about until they were silenced – and we see life without them.
Silence is golden, and
often helps us realize how much noise there was
FUN OPENS US TO NEW
Fun opens us up to new ideas. There, outside of our usual concerns and thoughts, we can imagine more. Able to make new associations in our joys, we can dream new concepts. We can see things from other sides, say, in the form of an intriguing game or movie.
Admittedly the things that we enjoy might create new bad habits. We can get obsessed about a game. A novel may entertain us but introduce us to the author’s personal problems disguised as deep thoughts. But life is risky . . .
FUN IS JUST BEING
Fun is also just, well, great. Fun is being alive. Fun is joyful. Fun is happy. Fun is part of being human.
So look, let’s have
fun and support others in the same. Let’s make it a support for real fun
as well, finding what we like even if its not the next big thing. Let’s
encourage and share our joys.
FUN MAKES THE WORLD
Look, if we all had more happiness, we’d probably not mess up the world as we do.
YES, I ANALYZED FUN
So, yes, I analyzed
fun and it’s value. But it was worth it so we can think about why fun
matters in, ironically, a practical way. After all, fun is a hall of
mirrors, so why can’t we see it from the other side.
Or maybe, the sides
aren’t so separate . .