By Jackson Hale
Hey, I am writing a fun advice column for GMA.
Ask me a question!
[SENT – 2:12]
how do I have fun
[RECEIVED – 3:14]
Thanks for writing, Bored! I can`t wait to dive right into your question. But first, hello everyone!
Welcome to Forward All Inquiries. Here, I will take any questions you might have, and answer them to the best of my ability. Whether you are mulling over cultural miscommunication, having interpersonal disputes with your loved ones, or not really sure what sherbet is (sorbet for us Americans), ask and I will (try to) answer.
So, Bored, thank you for waiting! Your question is, “How do I have fun?” Right off of the bat, we need to look at what it means to have “fun.” So here is a definition pulled right from Merriam-Webster.
- fun (Noun |\ˈfən\) an enjoyable or amusing time (A)
Ok, let’s rephrase the question so I have something to work with.
Question: How do I have experiences that provide enjoyment and amusement?
Ok, my dear Bored, first check out this Wiki-How page. Be careful though, it has some pretty poor advice. Example: it recommends you dance in the middle of the street. That advice was maybe written for sociopaths to approximate happy human behaviors. Which might be what you need, I don’t know.
It also seems that this Wiki-How was written for someone who has a mindset problem. To be sure, a positive mindset is the down payment for having a good time. If someone goes into anything with a negative attitude, they are priming themselves for a bad time. This is why I stopped looking at Rotten Tomatoes before seeing movies. It’s also why Batman v Superman was so super good.
Therefore, I recommend that you 1) Have a Positive Attitude.
Whenever you think about who you are, you are telling yourself a story built from moments that you consider meaningful. Where you went to college or the fact that your dad wasn’t around when you were growing up have influence over your life only insofar as you contextualize them. Your choice of what to include in your personal narrative involves self-negotiation (B). Your brain is hardwired to provide explanations due to the left-brain process known as the interpreter (C).
Anyways, I bring this up because–dude–you are already lying to yourself. You should embrace the fact that you naturally ignore facts in order to make your story a positive one. Let’s do it together: new experiences enhance your life, you deserve to succeed and find things which bring you joy, and your past failures don’t dictate the outcome of your future endeavors.
Easy, right? You have to have a positive outlook!
So now that you are feeling positive, the next thing you need to do is 2) Have an open mind.
To learn what you think is fun, you need to develop a sense of your interests as an individual. A positive attitude and an open mind go a long way towards helping you accept that you probably instinctively like a ton of embarrassing, terrible, meaningless things. The best way to develop a sense of what you enjoy is to let go of biases to the furthest degree that it is possible so you can really get into Justin Beiber.
Check it out. All of y’all are probably a bit familiar with utilitarianism. Pioneered by John Stewart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, this philosophy asserts that the action which maximizes utility–the aggregate and quality of pleasure–is the best moral action (D).
It’s a bit of a ways for us to go, but stay with me here! John Stuart Mill distinguished between higher and lower pleasures. As he saw it, higher pleasures are intellectually based: educational pursuits, plays and reading, that stuff. Monkeys cannot enjoy a good book.
On the other hand, lower pleasures are monkey friendly. A monkey can eat a lot of cheese and drink a lot of wine. But–and here is the kicker–when a monkey eats the best cheese, he doesn’t derive any more noticeable pleasure than if he ate mediocre cheese. He probably wouldn’t be able to sustain the types of intellectually stimulating conversation people have about said cheeses or derive pleasure from their storied histories, both geographic and otherwise.
John Stuart Mill also believed that you can rank and decide on the value of different experiences only if you are willing to engage with both types of experiences as pleasures. Such individuals are called Competent Judges, and they consider pleasures regardless of how they ought to feel.
We aren’t talking about ethics here. I am not telling you how to responsibly have fun. But you need to be a competent judge to know what’s good. Thus, you need an open mind. You can’t be swayed by how you feel you ought to feel.
For example, people hate Justin Bieber. But, you know what? I kinda like his music. And if I jump straight to the conclusion that I shouldn’t like his music because I ought not to, and that therefore my opinion is bad, I am showing a real lack of self-respect. Same for the reboot of Robocop (E). If you are not willing to open yourself up to like things which may be lame, you are missing out.
What is interesting for you may not be interesting for me, and vice versa. Because you are the only authority on your likes and dislikes, there is a certain dignity in being afforded your own opinions. And you should afford other people the dignity of their opinions in kind. Well, as long as you go for that whole “respect others” thing.
Ok, got it? Have an open mind and think positive. You’ll find whats good for you.
Next, please take a few moments to cultivate a sense of self through self-reflection.
Now that that’s done, the third step in having fun is 3) Mostly don’t have fun.
Look, most of the time, the things in your life that will bring you greatest joy require some sort of time investment. Playing music, creating art, speaking a foreign language, finding companionship, so on and so forth. These are higher pleasures.
Most of us are teachers! We (should) know that if our students could speak English, they would have a great time communicating with us, traveling the world confidently, and also doing crossword puzzles. There is a ton of pleasure to be found through English, yeah?
However, studying English is a chore. It’s making mistakes, thinking about making mistakes, and also spelling (sp?). You have to work hard! SAD! Not fun for most people.
And that is just par for the course. Wanna play guitar? Be prepared for your fingers to hurt for a while. Wanna write that novel? Be prepared to write real bad. Want companionship? You’re gonna meet a buncha bozos. Wanna draw pictures? So on and so on, blah blah blah blah.
Not having fun in these instances opens the door for you to enjoy yourself down the road. And you probably should be trying to make future you’s job easier. He or she is super old, and probably close to death. So do future you a favor and suffer now so they won’t have to. I recommend a few wonderful articles on this here GMA site to learn that stuff.
Ok Bored, there you go. In order to have fun, you need to Think Positive, Have an Open Mind, and Mostly Don’t Have Fun.
I hope this was useful for you. I personally mostly binge-watch Netflix and think about how I should study more. Then I spend an hour planning the best way to study, and go back to binge-watching Breaking Bad until the next day when I think about how I want to study more. Repeat repeat repeat. When I was younger I was really into making plaster molds of dinosaur bones, so maybe I am not an authority on fun.
B) Here is the first chapter of a book I like that deals with how televisual media responded to consumers’ new sense of self post asset-bubble Japan.
- Self-negotiation is how individuals choose to find meaning in their histories in order to define themselves within society. For example, in the 90s during Japan’s lost decade, identity stopped revolving around class – specifically of a homogeneous middle class – and started revolving around a self-prescribed lifestyle (that happened to not include class). The fiction of the homogenous middle class served to rally labor around the goal of modernization. With the collapse of the Japanese asset bubble, the contract with the Japanese middle class lost its appeal. A ton of the biggest companies froze hiring and promotions. Thus emerged a concrete societal barrier revolving around class, and as a result people sought alternative ways to define themselves. Basically.
- If you google self-negotiation, it tries to tell you about identity negotiation. Don’t be fooled! Identity negotiation is a process between two persons – the observer and the target – where one ascribes the other a role. TOTALLY DIFFERENT from self-negotiation.
C) Here is a thing about the left brain interpreter. Also here i wanna say that early hunters* thought gods traveled on the wind to warn animals of their approach. As a result, they taught each other to approach animals downwind. The truth was that hunters’ scents would be carried on the wind to the animals, but early man had no way of knowing that. So early man’s explanation was useful, but inaccurate. These are the explanations your brain naturally makes: useful, but inaccurate.
*We are talking early “historical record” man, not early “stone tools” man.
D) John Stuart Mill: utilitarianism. The definition of utility is really something a ton of people fight over. Some folks reckon that there is no positive utility, only negative utility, and actions must be taken that minimize the negative. Others argue that overall gains are superior to total gains. Look guys, i reckon i am not an authority on utilitarianism, so BACK OFF! Here is Mills’s book in full PDF.
E) Robocop (2013). 49% on Rotten Tomatoes. 99% in my heart.