The Meaning of Having Fun and How it Impacts Well-being
When was the last time you remember having fun and feeling really good? If you can't remember or it's been over two weeks, you might not be living life to the fullest.
Finding ways to have fun more often, if not regularly, leaves a profound positive effect on your health and overall wellness.
More than three years of pandemic denied us the normalcy we once enjoyed. Although there's a risk that another wave could occur with a new Covid variant, most of us are ready to reclaim the one thing we missed so badly: having fun.
As you know, we are in an age of countless ways to have fun. There are bounce houses, milkshakes with donut & rock candy toppings, hoverboards, Xbox games, carnivals and festivals, museums and galleries, free concerts, gigantic malls, 3D movies, and the list goes on.
Yet everyone seems uptight, under constant stress, overbooked, and out of breath. Even children are busy with their schedules filled with after-school lessons, practices, etc. One must wonder: are you having fun yet?
So, what exactly is fun? What's happening in the brain when we're having fun? Does "fun" have an evolutionary basis? But also, what happens if we don't have enough of it? These questions beg for more research and examination.
The suppression of fun during the pandemic years is demonstrated in Google's online search statistics. “Fun things to do" was searched less in 2020 compared to earlier years, while "how to be happy" stayed hugely constant in searches during the said period. However, searches for "fun things to do" have significantly increased in recent months —although not as high as previously.
What really is the essence or meaning of fun that makes it so hard to have in our present time? Are we defining it correctly? Surprisingly, only a little has been examined about fun, even though the concept is quite prevalent in modern society. Only a few scholars explored this seriously, and there's still no solid conceptual definition of what constitutes fun and when people experience it.
Could there be a universally understandable reason why some people have fun playing video games or dancing while others have fun reading a novel?
A study on fun, by Travis Tae Oh, PhD, revealed that while a range of activities are regarded as fun, like watching a movie, traveling to a new city, meeting old friends, riding a roller coaster, attending a show, etc., the intensity of the fun lies in two psychological pillars: the experience of pleasure and the sense of freedom. Having fun, hence, is an experience of “a liberating pleasure.”
If you wish to improve your well-being and overall happiness, JarvisHypnotherapy can help in your journey.
FIRST COMPONENT OF FUN: PLEASURE
The state of pleasure is exhibited in enthusiastic participation and active engagement in the activity that's meant for pure enjoyment. Many people claim, for instance, that the essence of having fun is to take part in the activity for its own sake and not place importance on an external goal. Winning in a game of cards or chess, for instance.
Are you familiar with the common statement we tell family or friends, "it’s not about winning but about having fun?" Because, indeed, the fun is gone once it gets too serious or competitive or when the activity is imposed by an "authority," particularly when adults tell children it is time to play and it should be done a certain way.
SECOND COMPONENT OF FUN: LIBERATION
This leads us to the other crucial element of fun: the sense of freedom. This is exhibited in being temporarily freed from numerous external and internalized constraints, such as obligations in work, parenting, school, and—in the case of Covid pandemic—the mandatory wearing of masks and even social distancing.
Throughout Oh's study, the recurring themes in fun experiences are "being carefree," "getting away from it all," and "letting loose." And so, it immediately became clear that enforcing behavioral and psychological restrictions can destroy someone's fun, just as the pandemic did to our life during the past couple of years.
However, it is essential to point out that the two pillars of fun—pleasure and liberation—can be experienced separately. For instance, being able to pay off that loan gives us a strong sense of freedom, but it's not necessarily fun. Or, eating expensive gourmet food may be enjoyable but not necessarily fun as well. What if you weren’t experiencing hardship or a tough situation before you did that fantastic activity? It is, therefore, the fusion of pleasure and freedom that makes an experience really fun, like partying after a long exam or finally being able to travel to a new town with family after completing a difficult project.
Read related material: What Makes You Happy? Why Fun Matters to Your Happiness
PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACTS OF HAVING FUN
When we are having fun, we simultaneously experience a range of psychological states, which include the following:
- Playfulness: the quality of being lighthearted that makes you do things just because you love doing them.
- Spontaneity: being more carefree and less being schedule-bound or dictated by expectations.
- Connection: a strong sense of belonging and a shared experience with another.
- Liberation: comes from the feeling of freedom (although temporarily) from the many constraints of daily life, like duties, rules, and discipline.
- Flow: a state of being fully absorbed to the point of losing track of time. This isn't the "trance" state but a more active state where all your senses are fully focused on what you're doing.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HAVING FUN
reduced stress, and hence, reduced cortisol levels
increased serotonin which alleviates the mood and improves the relaxed state
improved ability to cope with tension & stress
enhanced energy levels, memory, and concentration
more meaningful connections
better sleep quality
increased feeling of youthfulness
improved social skills
better healing of emotional wounds
improved energy and vitality
improved romantic relationships
If you’re seeking to nurture well-being and happiness in life, contact JarvisHypnotherapy today. We’re here to provide professional help!
It's challenging to allow oneself to have fun in an age and culture driven by achievements and productivity. Sadly, fun is regarded as wasting time. But ironically, having fun can make a person more motivated and productive.
In modern society, we're all under relentless pressure to achieve more by building a successful career, being good kids or parents, succeeding in school, and positively impacting others. Sadly, when we strive for a meaningful life through achievements—and fall short of them—we, in fact, perpetuate a cycle of stress, sadness, and feeling inadequate.
Having fun is really important to survive and thrive. The way it works is like reverting to being a child again —carefree, bubbly, and bursting with laughter. Considering that family situation is healthy, children are simply great with their curiosity, imagination, spontaneity, and creativity. Children do better at having fun!
So, just because we're facing a new year and we've hit a certain number (or errr, age I mean), does not change our ability to have fun. Each of us can sprinkle some fun in our lives. Come to think of it, seeking fun and deeply enjoying something can result in a healthier, better you.
Life is too short. Fun makes us feel truly immersed and fully alive!
Read related material: Nonattachment: Letting Go of Control May Be Key to Your Success