Video: Find Some Fun. You’ll Be Happier.

2010 Happiness Challenge: For those of you following the 2010 Happiness Project Challenge, to make 2010 a happier year – and even if you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge — last month’s theme was Eternity, and last week’s resolution was to Put your values into action in your everyday life. Did you try to follow that resolution? Did it help to boost your happiness?

This month’s theme is Fun, and this week’s resolution is to Find some fun (which can be surprisingly challenging). This resolution reminds me of one of my favorite Secrets of Adulthood: Just because something is fun for someone else doesn’t mean it’s fun for me — and vice versa.

If you want to read more about this resolution, check out…
Why is it hard to know why you find fun?
Why it’s important — even selfless — to have fun.
Make sure the “fun” is fun for YOU.

How about you? What do you find fun? What did you find fun as a ten-year-old — does that relate to what you find fun now?

If you’re new, here’s information on the 2010 Happiness Challenge (or watch the intro video). It’s never too late to start! You’re not behind, jump in right now, sign up here. For more ideas, check out the Happiness Project site on Woman’s Day.

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  • Fun is the perfect topic for the last month of summer. I think you mentioned this when you went to Disney, but I have to say that my recent trip to an amusement park reminded me of really letting go, overcoming fear, and having a true blast.

    I wrote about it.

    I took the title from an Incubus song that says, The world’s a roller-coaster…and I am not strapped in. Maybe I should hold with care…but my hands are busy in the air.

    I love that line because it reminds me to live life like I mean it, to be present in a wonderful moment and enjoy! That is what fun means to me and as I face my daily responsibilities, I need to remember to have some fun.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  • Great post. Thanks! I like the video format.

  • Wray

    Fun is an interesting topic for me because I have been trying to have more fun since before I even read The Happiness Project. Fun is something that I do well with on my own and with my friends but am struggling with it constantly with my parter. We do not do well at having fun together, being light and affectionate. I honestly don’t know whether I want to continue being with someone who is not fun with be with 80% of the time). We’ve been together for almost 3 years and are approaching moving in together (I want to start a family soon) but I am so reluctant to go through with it if we can’t seem to have fun together. I am not sure we ever had much fun. I have also been trying all the strategies for being open and loving and working at it, but again, it doesn’t seem to be yielding more happiness or fun. I am becoming happier and more accepting with myself every day. The only source of unhappiness I regularly feel is in my relationship. Can we continue to be together if we can’t have fun?

  • Fawn

    I don’t know if I love or hate this entry – but it certainly strikes a cord!
    Right up I can’t think of a single thing I find fun.
    And I’m afraid most people claim that I’m way too serious, for instance I never take breaks at work, I never go to see a movie or eat out, and I spend every social event helping out and thus avoiding the leisure part.
    I even have a plan for when my husband and I are supposed to have sex and how long it should take.
    I can’t remember myself having fun as a 10 year old either.
    But ok, I’m accepting the challenge and will report my results next week.
    Good luck everyone ;)!

    • Fawn

      The quest for fun in week 31:
      We left our dearly loved but occationally grumpy teens with adequate supervision and had 24 hours filled with stargazing, cardgames, berry picking and hiking. We had fun. I also remembered that I really loved natural science when I was a child, and that’s the reason for my career choices. So the experiment was a success!
      Conclusion: Fun is serious business and should not be ignored ;D!

  • Smeier

    Enjoyed this video. Why is it so easy to forget to have fun? By the way, Gretchen, what is the music you use in your videos? It’s very bright and bouncy.

  • I have only recently found the Happiness Project – but the timing could not have been more perfect. When I turned 50 earlier this year I did not necessarily go through a mid-life crisis — but I did decide that the last half of my life was going to have to be more fun than the first half.

    I read Fawn’s comment above and I must say that I can relate to her expressions. When watching your video I tried to think back when I was 10 or 11 and what I enjoyed doing, and to be honest, I have no idea. I have often stated that I stopped being a child at the age of eight. I squelched my creative imagination because that was “too childish” I want to reconnect with my inner child.

    So I followed your links and on one of the posts it asked “what do you find yourself doing in your free time. That is what you like to do for fun” Well, embarrassingly enough, I surf the internet in my free time. While some may brand this a “time waster” I have always viewed it as furthering my education.

    On further introspection I think what I really liked doing when I was 10 was going to school (and playing school) Why I surf the net is to gain new ideas, new insights, and new interests. I think what I like to do to have is to LEARN. I never want to be stagnant. There is so much that I have yet to explore and I want to learn as much as I can in the time I have here on earth.

    Now….I need to figure out a way to do this in a fun manner, since being a teacher is also my profession.

  • Leslie

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I have two young children, a demanding full-time job, and a high-needs husband. I occasionally manage to do things I enjoy (yoga during lunch, take a long walk while listening to a good podcast, talk on the phone with friends), but I rarely have FUN. I’m not even sure what it would be like at this point in my life. I think fun involves some amount of letting go, and that’s hard to accomplish when there are so many tasks and schedules to juggle.

    Food for thought….

  • This “challenge” really got me thinking. I’m fortunate to have a career I love and live in an area I adore, but what would I do (and where would I go) if I were in pursuit of pure fun? It probably wouldn’t always be doing what I’m doing on a daily basis, as fulfilling as all that may be. Thanks for making me remember that fun is a necessity, not a luxury!

    author & lifestyle designer

  • LivewithFlair

    Right now, our family is redefining “fun.” We’ve been attempting an unplugged summer without TV, video games, Wii, computer. This means we are riding bikes, digging in the earth, reading, baking, exploring, etc. It’s been awesome but also hard since we experience withdrawal! But we have much more time for new fun like learning conversation skills, community organizing, and conflict resolution. Pray we make it another week! I wrote about some of the things we are doing.

  • Cindy

    I read all the time when I was 10, and I still read all the time. Reading is fun for me. In fact, any form of taking in stories (movies, plays, ballets, music, etc…) are fun for me. I also rediscovered my love for writing, and I have been doing that well. My brother reminded me that I used to write all the time when I was little, and I am so glad to be writing again. I don’t know what made me stop.

    • gretchenrubin

      It is so odd how easy it is to stop doing things that are fun. It
      doesn’t make sense, but it’s easy to forget to work these things into

  • Janeymouse

    I have realised that I’ve managed to keep up or ‘translate’ some of my childhood activities into adult life. I still love to walk, read, watch good quality TV shows,
    spend time with just one or two friends at a time…I used to have lots of penpals and write letters constantly but now I have a blog. My family and I played board games and now my boyfriend and I play Scrabble regularly.

    I used to love horse riding and, after reading your book, I finally got around to scheduling a 2 hour ride in the countryside near my parents’ home. It felt great!
    I also used to love musical theatre. Now, I know that I’m not going to join a group or go for an audition or anything, but I’m going to try to listen to cast recordings more often and maybe sing & dance along in the privacy of my own home!

    It’s also interesting that some of the things I would have hated or blocked as a child – baking, crocheting – are things that I enjoy a lot now. I guess the theory works both ways.

  • Christiane

    It is so interesting to see what fun means for different people! I thought about what was fun for me and found that I am actually neglecting fun activities I used to watch great films (arthouse and independent stuff, that is) meet friends or read a book without the bad conscience that I could still sit at my computer and get things done. Well, I think I still have to work hard to convince myself that fun activities are not a mere “waste of time” but necessary for keeping yourself from going insane and totally stressed.

  • Allison

    Thanks for triggering my memories of what inspired and excited me as a child! Seems like school and adult work have diverted me almost completely from the things I truly loved. I will be starting a journal, for one thing, of activities, interesting images and ideas, etc., which I also used to keep as a child.

  • Beth

    Summer fun as a kid easy- Nancy Drew, riding bikes and horses (bareback) swimming pools, hoola hoop, chinese jump rope, parcheesi, collecting Beatles cards and records, chasing lightening bugs, riding on ferris wheels and scary rides at amusement parks, waiting for the ice cream man.

    • Zakirah Zakaria

      Hi Beth,

      I too enjoyed reading Nancy Drew too! And as an adult (precisely, young adult) I enjoy playing Nancy Drew computer games.

  • Steph

    It was fun for me to read the comments to this article!! I am always interested in how personality shapes our choices vis-a-vis fun. As a basic approximation of my personality, I like to think of my My3rs-Brigg characterisation (INFP). I’m a strong “P,” which implies spontaneity. And sure enough, “fun” for me means having no plan, i.e. going with the flow. If I can think of what I enjoyed most in childhood, it was being told by my mother to go out and play for the day. I would go off alone and have wonderful adventures! Now that I am an adult, I get on a plane, land in my favourite city (Florence), and I walk. Each day I let my heart take me where I want to go, or I get on a train, or I rent a bicycle and just go. It’s that precise lack of shape, not necessarily the activities themselves, that makes me happy. In October I’ll be in Italy again and I have in mind to fly to Paris for a few days as well. But will I buy a ticket in advance? No, of course not! I’ll see what takes shape when I get to Europe. 😉

    I noticed that a woman below seemed to be concerned that she likes to plan everything, that she’s too serious. To me, this simply suggests that she’s a “J” type of personality, loosely speaking. She enjoys structure. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I don’t see why that can’t be interpreted as a pleasure/fun as well. It’s just a different way of operating in the world.

    I don’t know. Perhaps I’m reaching here… 🙂

  • Sueannbee

    I loved to read but I liked to move also. I read while walking around the house. I even walked over the top of the couch while reading because I just couldn’t put my book down. I also read while riding my bike up and down the driveway. I loved books like Harriet the Spy, Anne of Green Gables, David Copperfield, Black Beauty and Little Women.

  • Thank you for an inspirational post Gretchen.
    I agree that fun is important for happiness. It’s also very subjective just like happiness.

    For me – I decided to make sure that each day I did something (regardless of how small) that was fun. Even if it means just reading a good book. Or doing my favorite workout…

    It’s a little hard at first to remember – amazingly enough… but it gets better down the line.

    One thing I must say though – the hardest part is to elliminate guilt. For some reason our culture has instilled in us that having fun is not a good thing… so you have to sort of get selfish and say to yourself – “hey I’m going to have fun my way” – then go do it 🙂

  • Zakirah Zakaria

    Hi Gretchen,

    I’m new to your blog and have just started reading your Happiness Project book. I really enjoy reading it, ’cause it’s light, witty and yet very informational and practical. I too, feel that reading memoirs is more helpful and makes me understand a topic better than reading how-to books.

    I really admire your personality and writing. I’m very excited to continue reading your book.

  • Abby

    What 10-yr old me thought was fun in the summer:
    Riding Dad’s motorcycle around the backyard.
    Taking bike trips and shopping at dime store for candy with friends. Going to the beach. Racing sailboats. Entering the library reading program. Playing with Gloria (the guinea pig) in the backyard. Putting on plays with the neighbor kids.

    What 46-yr old me thinks is fun in the summer:
    Finding and reading 2 or 3 really good summer books.
    Going on vacation and coming back to a really clean house. Finding time to swim laps at least 2-3 times a week at the community pool. Letting the dog decide our walking route. Driving the powerboat while watching the teenagers race sailboats. Finding a really tasty bottle of wine.

  • This advice has helped me in so many ways recently. For the longest time I was really down on myself about not having a hobby and (like you said) I would try hobbies that other people think are fun and then ultimately be disappointed when I gave up because I wasn’t finding it fun.

    Five years ago I saw an aerial silk performance and was mesmerized by it. I thought to myself, ‘I wish I could do that’, but it never went any further since I just assumed that I couldn’t do that because a) I hadn’t learned it when I was young b) I couldn’t do a chin-up and c) Where do you learn something like that anyhow?!

    Just recently I found a teacher of aerial silks and decided to bust out of my little box and learn it. It has turned into the most exhilarating hobby I have ever had, and lifts my spirits even when I’m feeling really blue. It’s because of The Happiness Project that I finally went for it and sought something fun that I liked to do so I owe Gretchen a great big thank you!

  • Freddie McNabb, III

    When I was ten or eleven, we did not have cable television as of yet, so I had fun playing outside with my friends and by reading good books. Today, I enjoy time outside by taking an afternoon walk or walking my parents dog, my beloved poodle Annie. As for reading, I still love a good book.

  • CB

    As a ten year-old I liked to dig tunnels, ride my bicycle and have dirt clod fights with my friends.

    I ride a motorcycle now, but not sure how to translate the digging and dirt clod fight into something fun that I can get other adults interested in. Water balloon fights? Paintball fights? As for the digging I really don’t want to get into gardening. I tried that a few years ago and found it really boring.

  • Monagrenier

    When I was 10 I liked:
    — swimming
    — playing piano
    — playing running games outside with friends
    — playing house

    I have been searching for hobbies that bring me joy, I think I will start trying to take some of these things up again. Thanks Gretchen for the push.

  • I really liked to play Barbies when I was ten. I hated sports except tennis and that is still the case.
    But with the Barbies I acted out very involved scenarios and almost plays. I then grew up to be a screenwriter and find great pleasure in my work as a writer. I also have kept a journal since I was around twelve and up until I started blogging I continued my journal writing. Now that I blog I look at that as my journal.
    And I must confess I have always loved to shop. I does make me happy ~ though I know it should not be counted. For me it still counts.