Are We Having Fun Yet?

Fun can be broken down into different categories. Read on to discern what kind of fun are you having and how can you get more mileage out of it.

Martin Seligman
Martin Seligman
In my last article “Fun and its Role in Happiness“, I challenged you to make a list of things that you consider fun.. If you have not read it, I ask that you do so before reading this post.
Let’s take a closer look at that list and divide them into three categories: pleasure, gratification and killing time.
Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, points out in his book Authentic Happiness, that we use short hand when we talk about things we like. For instance, we might say “I like watching TV”, “I like long, hot showers” and “I like doing genealogy”. However, if you think about it, these different activities probably elicit different emotions but we use the blanket word of “like” to describe them all. Seligman distinguishes between pleasure and gratification. A pleasure is something that you derive some sort of good feeling but requires little attention and virtually no skill. In the above example, taking a long, hot shower is a pleasure. A gratification, however, requires attention and a certain degree of skill. It might even be challenging and sometimes frustrating. Doing genealogy is something that brings good feelings (assuming you’re into that kind of thing) but it also requires skill and concentration. When historical tidbits are unearthed, there is a feeling of gratification. Pleasures are short-lived. Gratifications are short-lived as well but do last longer than pleasures. The anticipation of doing something gratifying in the future can also add to the longevity. Gratifying experiences might also be something you look back on with pride. Reminiscing is a form of Savoring Life’s Joys, which is one of the twelve Happiness Habits recommended by Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness. Savoring is also a great way to get more mileage out of that brief pleasure. The long, hot shower may last 20 minutes, but by using the skill of Mindfulness, you can luxuriate in that shower and your perception of time will last longer and your enjoyment will be heightened.
In my next post, I will address the final category of “fun”: killing time.
~Frank Clayton, LPC

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