February 26, 2024

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The Experts' Formula for Experiencing True Joy: NPR

The Experts' Formula for Experiencing True Joy: NPR

People participate in the annual World Pillow Fight Day in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 2018.

Robin Utrecht/AFP via Getty Images


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Robin Utrecht/AFP via Getty Images

People participate in the annual World Pillow Fight Day in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 2018.

Robin Utrecht/AFP via Getty Images

Search “how to have fun” on Google and you will find literally billions of search results. People pay hundreds of dollars to hire party coaches and play coaches. There are seminars and workshops on how to enjoy life.

How hard is it to have fun?

Busy schedules and pressure to succeed do not encourage people to step back and relax. For some of us, feeling guilty for not being productive is, well, not fun.

“Everyone is so busy and yet to get their work done,” said Katherine Price, author of the book The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Againhe told National Public Radio.

With her background as a science journalist, Price sought to analyze what constitutes “real fun,” as she calls it. Her answer is the intertwined states of playfulness, connection, and flow.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Highlights of the interview

Andrew Limbong: Can you define some terms here: What is “fun”?

Catherine price: So what I found is that the dictionary definition doesn't match the lived experience of when people are having fun. So I decided to try to come up with a better definition of what fun means. The definition I've come up with is that fun — or “true fun,” as I call it — is a combination of three states: playfulness, connection, and flow. And when these three states are together, like the center of a Venn diagram, that's what fun feels like.

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Fun doesn't mean you have to play games. A lot of adults get really nervous using the word “fun,” so I would say it doesn't have to be silly or childish. It's really about having a fun attitude towards life and yourself.

Connection refers to this feeling of having a special shared experience with others. The flow is then active and engaged. Most importantly, flow requires you to be present. So, if you're distracted at all, you can't flow and you can't have fun.

Limbong: People hire a party coach or fun coach. And on the one hand, I can see people like me calling attention to this, you know? But on the other hand, I don't know if it's more like a physical trainer, or someone just helping you. I want to know your opinion on why these jobs exist and how we have turned the labor of pleasure into a commodity.

price: I think the reason there's a market for things like this is because there's a real problem, which is that we don't feel connected or playful or flowing very often. Things look very serious. We are so lonely and isolated. We are so distracted. Everyone is so busy but not done yet. So I think the market is talking about this real longing that we have for something more.

On the other hand, I don't think it's necessary to do this. I believe there are steps each of us can take and meditations we can engage in that can fill our lives with more everyday moments of joy without having to spend money. I mean, I have literally thousands of stories from people around the world about having fun, and it's interesting to note how few of those stories involve people spending money or even going anywhere. I think there are two misconceptions we have about pleasure: that it costs money, and that you have to be outside of your daily life for it to happen.

Limbong: But I wonder then, how much influence does social media have on this, right? Because I know that when I play with my nieces and nephew, my sister always takes out her camera. Then we have to pose in the papers or something, and they have to post on the 'gram. It's like, okay, we are He was Just enjoy. (Shout out to my sister: I hope you're listening. I love you!) But what is social media doing to our perception and concept of fun?

price: I think it really confused us because one of the requirements for fun is to be fully present and for your inner critic to be silent. And if you are performing, you are not fully present and may have your inner critic in some capacity. This kills the fun. Pleasure is so fragile. It is like a delicate flower

Limbong: So I'll come to you with the hat in your hand. If I want to have more fun today, where do I start?

price: I would suggest that you think back to moments in your own life that were interesting for you and notice the themes that emerge, because these are the things you should prioritize. I would also say, though, to really play with the idea of ​​how you can build more fun, connection, and flow into your daily life. You know, how can you be more present? How can you reduce distractions? One suggestion I always make regarding the fun in particular that I like is to try to be playfully rebellious – do things that will break the rules of adult life a little bit – not in a way that gets you arrested, but just something that cheers you up. . For example, do things that make you happy, and bring joy to others.

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The last suggestion is to prioritize this. This is the most important thing: take fun seriously. Play with it, and notice the difference in your mood. We should have more fun. The world would be a better place if we had more fun.