There's Fun and Then There's Fun

AGGretchen Rubin at the Happiness Project blog has a great post about fun that has interesting implications for planning your family’s leisure time.

Gretchen divides fun into three types: challenging, accommodating, and relaxing.  Challenging fun requires you to put in a fair amount of effort to learn something new or work towards a long-term goal, such as learning to play golf. Accommodating fun, involves doing an activity with other people that takes account of what the others will enjoy, such as taking your kids to the zoo. Finally, relaxing fun involves little effort or planning, such as watching TV.

Gretchen explains that challenging and accommodating fun provide the most benefits but also require the most effort:

“Challenging fun and accommodating fun, over the long term, bring more happiness, because they’re sources of those elements that make people happiest: strong personal bonds, mastery, an atmosphere of growth. Relaxing fun tends to be passive—by design.”

But (and there is a but) there’s a kicker: “while we get more out of challenging fun and accommodating fun, we also must put more into it.”

Being cognizant of these differences can help you be more mindful of the activities you and your kids choose to do, both individually, and as a family. To sneak in more challenging and accommodating fun, Gretchen recommends keeping an eye open for activities that involve:

 learning to do something new
 visiting new places (even if it’s just a new store)
 getting together with other people, whether with friends or strangers

Hopefully, you’ll be getting a nice balance of different kinds of fun.  If you find that all or most of the fun in your house is of the relaxing variety, you may want to try to mix it up a bit – even if it’s just in small ways.

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