In his book Indistractable, Nir Eyal make the point that we can reimagine the concept of fun. Eyal explained that Ian Bogost, who studies fun in great depth (as we all should), says fun doesn’t have to have be enjoyable. He defines fun as: ‘the aftermath of deliberately manipulating a familiar situation in a new way’.
If you want more fun in your life, it might help to realise that it thrives in unexpected conditions.
We tend to think of obligations, such as having to get up at a certain time or be at an event we’d rather avoid as a drag.
The truth is that accepting these and then finding new ways to explore them or work within them can be an interesting challenge.
If you have to get up at 7, try doing something new for a week each day as you rise. It doesn’t have to be yoga or a smoothie — it could be 5 star jumps or rising to your favourite song.
Stuck at a party you’d really like to leave? Ask people a question you’ve never brought up in conversation before. People-watch and make a mental note of remarkable things you see (don’t overdo this, you don’t want to be the creepy one). If it’s in an area you don’t normally visit, search for a nearby place that looks interesting which you can explore on your drive home.
I spent a few weeks one summer marking multiple choice exam papers on a computer. I’d spend an hour on each question, so all I’d see was the same question popping up on the screen again and again for sixty minutes.
Though it sounds dreary, the repetitive nature of the task helped my brain get into an enjoyable zen-like flow state. I found plenty of new creative ideas emerging in my mind and kept a notepad nearby to record them. Again, even when performing a chore or seemingly boring task, there are aspects of it you can control — in this case I found that certain kinds of music and a large cup of black coffee helped.
Dealing With Challenge
Even if you lament that your life is far from being as exciting as that of seemingly everyone around you (thank you for this, social media), you are bound to experience problems of some sort. Instead of thinking of them as burdens you can’t seem to get rid of, try to turn them into fodder for conversation, connection and growth. Whether it’s a work-related struggle or a positive trait you’re trying to develop in yourself, consider how you can approach it a little differently. As Bogost says, try manipulating the situation in a new way — there’s always something you haven’t tried yet.
Speak to someone you wouldn’t normally consult about this and get their perspective on it. What happens if you ignore it for a week or two and come back to it with fresh eyes? What are you missing that could help turn things around?
As a tutor, working with young people provides me with everyday reminders that fun is something you can choose to create.
I have students who choose to time themselves as they complete a task and relish the feeling of beating their personal best.
Some find humour in simple truths, like the difficulty of choosing a single favourite season/food/place(the sun is great, but I like winter best – I don’t know why, I just do. Wait, spring is ideal, it’s right in between! Aaaah don’t make me pick a favourite! Except for pizza).
Others ask great questions, something we could all do more often (Is zero a multiple of everything? How many decimal places of pi can I memorise? Why do some people not know what butterbeer is?!).
Choosing to spend an evening playing a game, learning a magic trick or dancing around the room to your favourite song as you finally vacuum the carpet— fun isn’t actually that hard to find.
If you find that you need an expert’s opinion on the subject, consult a child. They won’t disappoint.