What Even Is ‘Fun’ Anyway?

Photo: Graiki/Getty Images

Here is an actual thought I just had: Oh boy, I know what would be fun! A *different* flavor of tea! Yes, it’s a cry for help. But also, I’m probably not alone in finding that life during Covid has skewed toward the monotonous.

Seven or maybe 100 months in, “something like life has resumed and suspended panic has mellowed into sustained malaise,” as Rachel Sugar writes in Vox. She recalls going to an outdoor comedy show and wondering, Is this fun? “What was fun? I can no longer remember… Is Emily in Paris fun? Is a Zoom birthday party fun, is ordering a pizza fun, are jokes fun, is wine fun? Have I ever experienced fun?”

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Maybe the problem is that even before the pandemic, we’d gotten a little out of touch with what “fun” is. Remember those eyeball-stinging Instagrammable pop-up museums? Were those fun or sort of terrible? Remember autumns stacked with one cute, fall-leaf-hued photo op after another? Were those ever really fun? Perhaps we had already lost track, substituting what looks like fun for what feels like fun.

Pandemic life is not about Big Experiences or even social media-friendly snapshots. If we are going to get through this in one emotional piece, we are going to have to really stay connected to small and tangible ways to feel good. At the risk of sounding super un-fun, here are Four Principles of Fun to keep in mind:

  1. Fun is often connected to a sense of play. And yet many of us — adults and kids alike — have lives that offer vanishingly few opportunities for play. That’s why we should all try something new and playful and dumb this weekend. Covid may keep us from joining a basketball team, but surely you can talk a family member into a game of charades or two.

Why You Should Be Joyfully Terrible at Something

Be the MVP of sucking at something

forge.medium.com

2. Fun often involves laughter. As you’ll recall from those idiotic, pointless, and super-fun giggle sessions of childhood, laughing is the MOST FUN. Not LOLs or crying-laughing emojis, but real, actual belly laughs. Call your funniest friend, or cue up that dumb movie you love. Come on, it’s for your health!

You Used to Laugh, But Now You LOL

How to recover the deep belly laughs you lost when you became an adult

forge.medium.com

3. Fun releases dopamines; releasing dopamines feels fun. Something to try, as Dakota Morlan writes in Forge, is to make a “happy list” of things you love. She has nine other ideas of things that are sure to cheer you up here:

10 Things to Do in the Next 10 Minutes to Feel Noticeably Better

Call Grandma already

forge.medium.com

4. Anticipating future events can be fun. Looking forward to something is also proven to be a mood-lifter, although nowadays when life seems so uncertain and unplannable, it often feels like there are few things to look forward to. So go ahead and plan something enjoyable. For Elemental writer Dana Smith, it’s her wedding; but this can also be a new hike or a virtual cocktail hour with friends.

Your Brain Needs a Party

Anticipating fun events is a key element of well-being

elemental.medium.com

You know what else is fun? Sharing ideas with others. So hey, share in the comments how you’re still having fun in our largely shut-down lives. Could be fun!

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