How to Have More Fun at Fun

When was the last time you felt truly alive? That moment when your chest filled up with breaths of your soul woken afresh after a deep slumber. Your eyes lit up and cheeks swelled with overwhelming emotion. You felt an inexplicable sensation that you knew was something special. Extreme happiness comes close to what it was but that’s just one dimension of it. Excitement. Thrill. Energy. You felt like God.

I have a term for such moments - DIMs or Deep Immersion Moments.

I theorize that you find yourself in such moments when you are deeply immersed in any activity. In that instant, your mind, body and soul dance together to the same tune, focused on doing the task at hand. There is nothing else but that moment. 

Sometimes we find DIMs in our hobbies. Painting. Running. Playing a sport. Riding a bike. Meditating. Exercising. Listening to music. Reading a book. Listening to music while reading a book. Internet Surfing. Checking Facebook. Smoking weed. Or perhaps something else.

How did you decide which one to partake in? Was it a spur of the moment decision? Perhaps someone great in that field inspired you. Or you thought it would be ‘fun’ because you saw someone else having fun at it. Was it a conscious decision? Or you just went with the flow? 

This brings us to the next question. 



Why should I care what I do for fun?

Look, you have limited time on this earth. And it has a nasty habit of flying by when you are not paying attention. You have just 3500 odd weekends, half of which you’ve already spent. And as the wise saying of our generation goes - YOLO!

I am assuming that you are not a masochist and want to spend most of your life being happy and content. And if you could feel absolute exhilaration in some of these moments, it wouldn’t be so bad, right?

You want more of those sexy DIMs. 

Thus, it logically concludes that to live a better life, we need to position ourselves in situations where the density of DIMs is the highest. This means that you want to choose the fun activity which gives you the most DIMs.


How do I find these super-sexy rainbow-farting sons-of-a-unicorn DIMs?

 

Let's start with this curve.

DIM-Frequency Curve

DIM-Frequency Curve

  • On the X-axis is the frequency of your fun activities. (More frequent as you go to the right)
  • On the Y-axis is the number of DIMs (Increasing as you go up)
  • The section marked Happy Place is the maxima of your DIMs. Or, in other words – this is the area that will light up your fire.
  • How often you should do something to find the Happy Place is the Optimal Fun Frequency or OFF.

What you want is to consistently find the Happy Place.

Happy Place = max DIM = Fully lit fire


Understanding the curve

Why do DIMs decrease if activity is done very frequently?

Fun is a way for us to relax, unwind and recharge to be able to perform at our peak at our work. Thus, fun is a secondary activity which supports our primary function of doing meaningful work (from which most of us derive contentment and purpose). Without the primary function, there is no fun. When fun takes centre-stage in your life, it stops being fun. Excess of pleasure becomes work itself.

  Example: For me, watching too many movies means I feel guilty after a binge. So instead of enjoying the movies, I just go through the motions of just watching something. Overall a less happy place.

 

Example: For me, watching too many movies means I feel guilty after a binge. So instead of enjoying the movies, I just go through the motions of just watching something. Overall a less happy place.

Like drinking out every day. It gets repetitive after a time and one day you find yourself puking on the curb outside the pub, passed out and wondering how it ever came to this.

We all need a break from taking a break sometimes.

Excess pleasure comes with guilt (of not doing work), exhaustion and less complete involvement in an activity – which means lesser DIMs.

 

 

Why does it taper off if done very rarely?

To relish something, it requires for you to be good at it. Your intellect (as is its habit) desires constant improvement in your execution of it.

By doing things very sparingly, you devoid yourself a chance to progress because of a lack of momentum. Our minds and bodies have a recall of our past experiences whether good or bad. This recall comes with a due date. Once you are past this date, you can no longer recollect this knowledge and will have to start from scratch. Call it rustiness if you like.

Thus, to constantly find the Happy Place, we need to find the OFF. Here's an example of my snooker habits to illustrate this better.

  Example: For my snooker game, less than once per month and I am bound to forget the mistakes I made, the positions I found myself in. I would not necessarily forget the game, but the nuances of the gameplay discovered only in more frequent competitive playing. 1/week < 1/ OFFSnooker <  1/month

 

Example: For my snooker game, less than once per month and I am bound to forget the mistakes I made, the positions I found myself in. I would not necessarily forget the game, but the nuances of the gameplay discovered only in more frequent competitive playing. 1/week < 1/ OFFSnooker <  1/month


Choosing your fun activity

Let’s recall what we know so far.

  1. We want more DIMs 
  2. DIM maxima is the Happy Place where we want to stay most of the time.
  3. The frequency at which Happy Place appears is OFF

Given the above, how do you choose what you do for fun? To answer this question, you have to answer another one - How much free time do you have? 

This is needed for a very simple reason. OFF of some activities is low, for some it is high. If you have little free time, choosing an activity with high OFF is a bad idea. Let's take some examples.

The OFF of learning a guitar is high. You have to invest a lot of time and energy to reach a level where you can enjoy the instrument. Free time of say 2 hours a week would not suffice. You need a lot more hours to find DIMs in guitar playing.

On the other hand, with the same amount of time, choosing to watch a movie would be a good idea. It has a low OFF and could be achieved in whatever little time you have.

But, more often than not, you would have more than 2 hours a week of free time. So you could choose multiple activities with different OFFs. For example, you can learn guitar (high OFF) and watch a movie. Or, you could learn coding (high OFF) and play Pictionary with friends (low OFF).

This time is not just for execution, but, for study and research too. This is because intellectual growth cannot just be by purely practical methods. So, if you enjoy whiskey, you would be well served by reading about how it is made, what is the difference between the many blends and so on. Or for movie buffs, learning about the cast, the movie trivia, comparing the movie with the director's other works and so on. If its rolling a joint, perhaps watch a YouTube video of learning new ways to roll. This study enriches your experience of the activity the next time you do it.

 

THREE OTHER FACTORS

1. Randomness

If this calculated approach to fun seems a little stuck-up, add in a healthy dose of Randomness. It is generally good for a fun activity since it adds an element of uncertainty and spontaneity, both of which are good for our Happy Place. 

Having said this, ensure that randomness is a deliberate addition. For example, a randomly made trip with friends would be fun only if you are enthusiastic about it. And not when you have been dragged along to participate in it because of pushy friends or social obligations. So tread this line with caution. And always keep tweaking your ratio of randomness/planned based on the free time that you have.

Randomness is a factor but only if it is a deliberate choice in your idea of fun.

 

2. Passion

This post has ignored passion so far. The thing about it is that if you are extremely passionate about something, even if it is tough, you can find a lot of DIMs in the suffering and the struggle. Thus passion overpowers everything - to an extent. For example, at an age of 50, passion alone won't help you make an exceptional football player. However it might give you those DIMs.

 

3. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Often, saying no to things feels like you are missing out on fun. The FOMO kicks in. Although, we know that some of those things are social obligations that we have full control to say No to. 

Avoid these social obligations like you avoid your clingy ex. The reason is simple - because of your reluctance in participating in such activities, you would never be able to find the DIMs. At the back of your mind, there will always be the thought that you could have spent this doing something else. You will not be in the moment. It will result in sub-optimal experiences. You will have to make this choice often because frankly, there just isn't enough time to do everything you want to do and still be able to find the happy place. That's just the nature of time - limited and passing.

For example, I have a friend who is exceptionally good at a certain sport. But, he doesn't play with us (his friends), because he knows it would be a less than awesome experience for him (we are donkeys at the game, present little challenge for him). Or personally, I have a huge list of things I want to do, but I know that if I pursue them all, I'll end up being mediocre in most of them.


Conclusion

You can ignore this made-up science and still have fun. But, that will not be optimized to allow you to stay in your Happy Place for long periods of time. For that, you need to go deeper into any activity to unfold layers of intensity. As you go deeper, your Happy Place may even be happier and you might discover pleasures which were unknown earlier and attain a nirvana like state.

Participate in everything, learn new stuff, do new things everyday by all means. After all novelty is the elixir of the mind. But, don’t make every one of those your regular fun activities without investing time to grow in them. The crux is to learn deeply about your hobbies. All this to avoid sub-optimal experiences and live a more meaningful life.


Hope this post helps you. If it does, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Or email me at mj {at} mayankja.in.

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