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Doing things for fun

Does everything need a goal or purpose?

The idea of “doing things for fun” is something that I believe the majority of people understand, yet I tend to struggle with. I mean, to an extent, anyone who is high in conscientiousness and has a strong work ethic has found it difficult to switch off and let their hair down, myself included. So, I pose this question, “does everything need a goal or to be aimed towards the progress or improvement of a skill/knowledge/characteristic?”

“What is there to gain from ‘doing things for fun’?”

Much like happiness, you can’t will fun to happen. It’s not like you can proclaim “I’m going to have fun now!” and then it comes into being. Much like happiness, I feel fun is best thought of as a by-product of a meaningful pursuit of experience and you enjoy it when it comes around. Sure you can plan to have fun at a party on Saturday night, but until you’re at the party on Saturday indeed having fun, you’re not experiencing fun are you? And I’m sure a number of you are sitting there reading this going, “You must be fun at parties? No, wait, you’d have to be invited first!”

If it is not obvious already, I have a tendency to overthink and overanalyse what we do and why, which can quash the idea of doing something for fun. The combination of my lofty ideals and intense pursuits has affected my ability to relax as well as generating feelings that I didn’t deserve a break or the “luxury” just to do something for fun only. At my worst points, this was truly unbearable and I was not much fun to be around. Thankfully, I’ve improved in this regard over the years though it’s still very much a work in progress.

“Ultimately, I would think to myself – not ‘what a wonderful world’ – maybe you’re trying to do too much.”

Think of it this way, we’re “unlimitly limited” in a sense. We have a limited capacity to do an unlimited number of things. We live in a world that promotes and rewards – though promotes far more than it rewards – incessant productivity. Small wonder we are plagued with guilt for wanting to relax and have fun, or worse, do something with no purpose other than to have fun.

I feel sometimes like I’m being pulled between worlds – between being a somebody and a nobody. Whilst the latter gives the appearance for a far less stressful life and the perception of more chances to just have fun, it’s never sat well with me to accept being a nobody. In some ways, I conceded long ago that I’d have to forgo doing things for fun, not completely, but significantly.

Indecision and uncertainty, this lack of an internal union, plays its part in inhibiting fun. This usually leads to increased suffering, the magnification in anxiety, the absence of motivation and a lack of pleasure. The inability to decide among 10 things, even when they are desirable, is equivalent to torment by all of them.

A potential downside or problem of purpose-driven lives, especially when taken to the extremes, include living with the disappointment for not achieving your goal/s. The hamster wheel analogy is suitable apt for a time characterised by side hustles on steroids, the gig economy and a self-help industry more concerned with making money than actually helping people. The thing to remember when achieving your aim is, that’s not really what makes you happy – it’s the striving and self-efficacy.

“They say comparison is the thief of joy, but competitiveness does just as good a job.”

Sometimes our inability to do things for fun is due to our fear of admitting being unhappy or scared or feeling lost or even from having failed. We can easily feel "less than" we should and create this false self to be liked. This results in lying to yourself, making one feel isolated and alone despite on the outside appearing to be happy. You need to have conversations with yourself, be less concerned about what others think of you and more concerned with what you think of you. Go through the hard times and struggles of this and rise like the phoenix from the ashes on the other side.

Have I answered the original question? I don’t know haha – but we’ve explored a fair bit here. I like my audience to do the thinking with me. So, does everything need a goal or purpose? Can we learn anything from “doing things for fun”? I’m sure a lot of people would answer easily with a “no” followed by a “yes” to those two questions, but, if it’s not evident already, my answer is incomplete at present.

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James Foster
James Foster
Mar 15, 2022

Anything can be fun, if you want it too. You just have see past the "lesser" not so enjoyable parts and take the event/experience/road trip/whatever it may be as an overall win :).

AKA Send it!

Martyn Foster
Martyn Foster
Mar 16, 2022
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