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Happiness is not the same as…Part III

…having fun.

Fun is a measurement of how much pleasure or excitement one derives from a certain activity.

Going on a two-week vacation to Disney-world, attending the Super Bowl, jamming out at a rock concert, socializing with close friends, having a family picnic, watching a good movie, reading an exciting book, daydreaming, and lying out at the beach are all examples of what having fun can look like.

Happiness, on the other hand, while certainly full of its fun moments, is a measurement of how engaged one is with a sense of meaning, value, and purpose.

A sense of meaning, value, and purpose, along with all the interior riches it provides, can be present even in the absence of doing fun activities.

Happy people do the dishes; Happy people take out the garbage; Happy people change dirty diapers; Happy people fold laundry; Happy people pick up dog poop; Happy people change the oil in their cars; Happy people help their friends move;  Happy people listen to their companions vent; Happy people leave parties early to attend to family emergencies; Happy people work tough jobs so other people can continue enjoying the services that make them happy, and the list goes on.

Most happy people would probably tell you that they’d have a lot more FUN visiting Magic Mountain, going on a shopping spree, riding a bike, or taking a day off than doing any of the above activities.

Does that mean happy people are unhappy when they’re not doing fun things? No.

It means that the happiness of happy people is sustained by a wide range of elements of which having fun is only a part.

Having fun is when you get to do the things that you love. Being happy is when you find the love in the things that you do.

Be happy when you get to have fun, but don’t forget to have fun just being happy.

Cheers,

T.K.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. TK, I have a hard time being happy when things are supposed to be fun. Just recently my family and I went down to California and I was pretty miserable. It wasn’t the heat, nor the inactivity, but the simple fact that I wasn’t having fun. Is this because I am unhappy, or some other factor I might be missing? In this article you say that fun is a measurement of how much pleasure or excitement one derives from certain activities. Am I not having fun because these activites I engage in are not appealing to me? And would this affect my happiness in any way?

    1. Hi Emmy,

      Great question: Here’s my two cents:

      You say, “I have a hard time being happy when things are supposed to be fun. Just recently my family and I went down to California and I was pretty miserable. It wasn’t the heat, nor the inactivity, but the simple fact that I wasn’t having fun. Is this because I am unhappy, or some other factor I might be missing?

      This is understandable. We’ve all had the experience of taking a vacation, going to a movie, attending a party, or doing some other activity that’s supposed to be fun, and then being disappointed by the experience. It sounds like you had a high expectation that the trip would/should be fun and the trip let you down. It didn’t turn out to be what you expected or wanted it to be. It happens (and experiences like this will continue to happen). That’s not a bad thing.

      Now, here are some questions you might want to ask: Do I have to feel miserable about the fact that I’m not having fun? Is it a bad thing when I’m not ecstatic about every single experience? Is it possible for me to be at peace when I’m not in the middle of doing a fun activity? Are their other ways for me to create a rich and meaningful life that don’t necessarily require me to be doing something exciting?

      Is this because I am unhappy, or some other factor I might be missing?

      Well, there were two things going on: 1) You weren’t having fun in California and 2) You seem to resent or regret the fact that you weren’t having fun. Am I understanding you correctly?

      As far as #1 is concerned, you simply weren’t having fun and that’s perfectly fine.

      As far as #2 is concerned, unhappiness only starts to creep in when you make negative judgments about the fact that you’re not having fun. Here are some examples of the kinds of negative judgments that can easily produce unhappiness:
      “I’m not having fun, therefore something must be wrong with me.”
      “I’m not having fun, therefore this trip is a complete waste of time.”
      “I’m not having fun, therefore the person who suggested this trip is an idiot.”
      “I’m not having fun, therefore I spent all of this money for nothing.”
      “I’m not having fun and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, because my ability to create a good time is out of my control.”

      When you entertain thoughts like these, misery is the only option.

      BUT…

      What happens if you entertain thoughts like the following:
      “I’m not having fun, but whatever. It is what it is. I have the right to enjoy what I enjoy and I have the right to be honest about what I don’t enjoy. There’s no need for me to beat myself up or condemn others just because this experience isn’t appealing to me. I can’t change the fact that I’m here in California right now, so I might as well make the best of it. Maybe I can improvise and find ways to make this a meaningful trip even though it doesn’t meet my original expectations. Maybe I can turn it into an educational experience somehow. Maybe I can use it as a chance to relax. Maybe I can at least scratch a few things off my bucket list. Maybe I can help someone else have a more positive experience. Maybe I can take advantage of the change in environment and connect with my family/friends in a new way. I don’t need this trip to be exciting and fun in order for me to be lighthearted and creative. It seems as if California isn’t going to show me a good time, so I guess I’ll have to challenge myself to creatively insert a little excitement of my own into this trip.”

      In this article you say that fun is a measurement of how much pleasure or excitement one derives from certain activities. Am I not having fun because these activites I engage in are not appealing to me?

      That is correct. Some activities will simply not be fun to you.

      And would this affect my happiness in any way?

      It doesn’t have to. You can still find ways to feel good even when you’re not having fun AS LONG AS you don’t resent the fact that you’re not having fun. There’s more to a life of joy than being excited. Positive emotional states like gratitude, curiosity, and inner peace can be cultivated in any environment. It just requires a little effort and creativity.

      That’s my two cents.

      Do these thoughts help?

      Please let me know.

      Cheers,

      TK

      1. Thank you. Yes these thoughts have helped me, the next trip I will certainly try and find ways of looking at it more positively. You were correct when you said I seemed to resent or regret that I wasn’t having fun. I was resenting this fact, I was regretting the trip as a whole due to the fact that I wasn’t having fun. Normally experiences that I don’t have fun in or that I have engaged in to have fun and ended up disappointed, I learn something from these experiences, but on the trip to California, I did not learn anything other than I didn’t want to be there. I wasn’t able to find any peace due to the disturbances of the household in which my family and I were staying at. Otherwise, I probably would have felt better about the trip in whole. As far as my expectations being let down that is very true. It was supposed to be very fun, hanging out with family and doing things together. Instead we sat in a very unpleasant atmoshpere. Due to the atmosphere my thoughts were negative, which was probably the cause for my unhappiness. But thank you for your two cents, it will certainly come in handy for future trips.
        Cheers.
        Emmy

        1. Thanks for letting me know, Emmy. I can only imagine the difficulty you must have faced, given the situation as you described it. Putting ourselves into a positive mental state is much more difficult when we’re surrounded by those who are caught up in drama. I hope this experience has caused you to evolve in ways that allow you to more easily maintain a positive vibration when in a low energy environment.

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