Just Because Something is Fun For Someone Else Doesn’t Mean It’s Fun For You.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:

Why it took me so long to grasp this, I’m not sure–but I’ve been much happier since I realized it. To have fun, I have to do something that’s fun for me.

  • This is such a great point! It’s hard to remember sometimes, especially applying it to other people. For example, my husband and I are both outdoorsy and like to hike. But while he primarily enjoys desert and canyon country for hikes, I can’t get enough of that alpine scenery and since I also appreciate the deserts I have a hard time understanding that he’s just not into my favorite atmosphere. If we hike to a beautiful alpine circ with a blue lake, snow capped peaks, and a riot of wildflowers I am completely refreshed and having a Sound of Music moment. He’s like “meh”. I really have trouble comprehending that, but I’m trying to remember that it’s just not relaxing for him! Good thing we live in Utah which has pretty much every type scenery imaginable. 

    • Eloise

      Lucky you! I live in Canada but have hiked in several areas of the UK, Canada, France and Germany and California but Utah hiking is one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Sorry I’m with your husband desert all the way…though I do get your love of the alpine scene. Funny my husband agrees it was the best hiking ever but wants to go hiking in British Columbia (alpine, flowers et al) while I’m “meh” let’s go to North or South Dakota!

  • Circus of Humanity

    It’s tricky, this fun thing. I’m finally starting to figure it out. Sometimes we have to do things spouses find “fun” which we would rather not. There’s a tricky balance/compromise.

  • Katie

    Fun for me:  rearranging furniture, cleaning house from top to bottom, watching “Dancing with the Stars”, hiking for an entire day, sitting on the beach, going to outdoor music festivals and dancing, camping, going out to eat but cooking more often at home, going to a farmer’s market, staying home for an entire weekend, travelling to foreign countries, playing ultimate frisbee, playing cards, reading non-fiction, big creative projects like making my son a homemade banner for his birthday and painting wrapping paper for presents.

    Fun for other people, but not for me:  shopping,  leaving the dirty dishes for the next morning, talking polictics, watching the news, riding motorcycles, having something planned to do for every minute, talking on the phone, eating unhealthy food, suduko, cross word puzzles, making decisions, changing the holiday menu every year, watching tv for the majority of the evening, going out to eat more than cooking at home, playing video games, being alone, spending a lot of money on haircuts/colors.

  • Mark

    Not sure about the value of this one.  Sometimes things are an acquired taste and sometimes you can make something fun that did not seem fun at first and sometimes we just don’t get it. For example, I enjoy playing golf but have friends who say its a stupid waste of time chasing a little ball around a field.  I also have friends who love to watch Nascar races but I don’t get watching cars go around in a circle for hours.   I think I would enjoy watching Nascar races if I saw it differently.  While its not something to worry about, I also don’t want to limit myself to what I enjoy now. 

    • Kate

      I don’t think Gretchen means to imply not having an open mind, or not doing something with a loved one FOR them.  She just means being aware of what you genuinely find pleasurable vs. what you “think” you should like.

      For instance, in the post from Katie, which is currently right below us, she mentions she loves to read non-fiction.  I personally am an avid reader and have been my whole life, but other than news articles or brief magazine stories, I’m not interested in reading non-fiction in book length for the most part.  But for most of my life, I kept telling myself I “should” enjoy reading non-fiction, I “should” enjoy learning about these types of topics, I “should” be better-informed by reading these things.

      I wasted a lot of time reading books I never finished; or started.

      Truth is, there are ways to stay informed and in my personal/fun time, I devour novels.

      So it’s okay that Katie likes non-fiction.  I don’t.  The point is, I’m not going to punish myself and waste my “fun” time telling myself I SHOULD enjoy something when I don’t!

      • Sarah

        Exactly–I think it is more of the “Just because you don’t like something/find something fun that others like/find fun doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you!” 

        Maybe people who are more self-aware don’t experience this problem and it doesn’t resonate. 

      • Mark

        Yes and in so far as freedom from “SHOULD”, I completely agree with the saying.  At the same time, I suggest that does not mean “can’t”.  I suggest that you could learn to enjoy  non-fiction.  Not that you “SHOULD” but that you could and there is no reason to limit yourself to what you enjoy now.  Some things that used to be SHOULDs for me and which I hated, later became  sources of much happiness.  For me this saying does not go far enough.

  • Drpauladurlofsky

    I really like this quote! It highlights the fact that knowing who you are, that is knowing your own likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, and passions, allows you to not only make independent choices but good ones too. Many are easily influenced by the people around them and this can be a slippery slope. It can inhibit our own sense of direction, autonomy, and even authenticity.

    Dr. Paula Durlofsky

  • This is the best quote ever!
    I really hope some people can understand and not force others to “have fun” with them. Fun for me is reading and just staying at home, while for other its partying and drinking. 
    Introverts often get accused of being stuck-up of the bunch because we just don’t go along with everyone else. well, not everyone wants to party and get wild. Some people prefer to read and converse.

  • Tamara

    This really resonates with me – I often feel like I should be different in order to please my friends and family, when really things are hard on me sometimes.
    I’m not much into going to loud parties, having coffee or doing winter sports (which a lot of my friends do). Instead, I am perfectly fine being warm and safe, watching old episodes of “Charmed”, listening to music and thinking about my wishes and plans for the future. At the moment, I have a hard time with writing my bachelor’s thesis, which seems so easy for everyone else but is on my mind all the time and freaks me out, so I cannot relax and cry a lot. My family and friends understood at first, but now I feel like they are beginning to get tired of my anxiety and start saying “Oh, come on, it’s not the end of the world, get yourself together” – which makes it even harder for me.
    Also, I wish I was home instead of having to live in this big city which all my friends love but I don’t; and I am not confident enough to spend a semester abroad like many of them did. It seems like I am getting everything wrong, like wanting to stay in my small hometown with my family and not going to parties every night and having a hard time with what is supposed to be the best time of my life makes me boring and a bad student and a less likeable friend. Thus, knowing that it is okay to just “Be Gretchen” (in my case, be myself) and have my own kind of fun calms me. Thank you.
    P.S. I signed up to be one of your “Super-Fans” and haven’t heard from you in a while… is there anything we can help you with? 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Winter sports! Ick. I’m with you.

      If you’re having trouble with writing, you might take a look at Steele’s PROCRASTINATION EQUATION. Lots of good strategies for getting yourself to write. Also Cain’s THE POWER OF QUIET which is a good reminder that not everyone likes big parties.
      Thanks so much for being a super-fan! My new book comes out in September, and you will absolutely be hearing from me. But not too often, I hope.

  • Absolutely! I used to feel guilty when I didn’t want to do the same thing as everyone else. But life is too short. Sometimes you just have to do your own thing!

  • Oh my, you took the words right out of my mouth. Or my husbands ear 🙂

  • teres

    isnt this why compromise was invented?

  • Jannpoet

    You hit the nail on the head with quitting time. I work from home and often there is no quitting time because when I finish working in the office there is always chores do do eg dinner to prepare, washing to get in etc.  It takes a lot of discipline to organise and create quitting time.

  • I like this quote because it is so true …

  • Lou

    So true. Just yesterday, my sister was nagging me about doing something SHE finds fun, but I don’t – and I was beginning to feel guilty about it. I think that’s the key point. To allow ourselves to be okay with the things we find fun (even if others don’t find it fun) and vice versa… and most importantly, not to feel guilty about it (especially for me!).