In defense of fun
Recently, I have been finding friends of mine complaining to me that they are not enjoying things that they do. This boggles my mind.
Why would you ever do anything that is not fun? That is what I ask them. The answers are invariably some form of either “I don’t know” or “because I have to.” Neither of those is a sufficient reason to do something unenjoyable.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” How could you do something without knowing why? Motivation is the key to every action. The only way to truly and completely do anything—and do it well—is to know why it must be done. And all motivation comes from within. The reason that anyone does anything comes from within. Not knowing your motivation simply means that what you are doing is not well thought out.
As to requirements, they are irrelevant. We all have to do things. But we oftentimes get a choice of what those things are, and even when we don’t, the simple fact that an action is required of us does not in any way preclude it from being fun. It is simply an issue of framing or gaming.
For instance, throughout the course of my college career, I have had to write a few essays. I have not particularly wanted to write the vast majority of them. That, however, is a very negative way of viewing the essays. Instead of trying to write something I did not want to write, I changed the topic of the essay to something I wanted to write about. This makes the process fun. Also, passion shines through in writing and improves it. By framing the essays in a way that made them fun to write, I improved their quality.
Some things are hard to frame. Sometimes, you have to walk for a long stretch all alone. You have no one to talk to. Maybe it’s raining. Casting this in a positive light is going to be tough. Why not play a game? Maybe you watch other walkers—solitary or otherwise—and come up with backstories for them. Maybe you relive the last great moment you had. Maybe you just fantasize about being in a different place. Maybe you take a Superball out of your pocket and start bouncing it as you go. No matter what you do, though, simply by doing something you enjoy, you’ve taken a dull and boring walk and turned it into something much, much more.
Robert Heinlein once wrote, “Man is the animal that laughs.” Oscar Wilde wrote, “Life is far too important a thing to ever talk seriously about it.” Let loose. Have fun. Do what you like; like what you do. Not only is it the best way to live life, but it is also the only way to live life well.