Definition of "fun":
- noun: activities that are enjoyable or amusing
- noun: a disposition to find (or make) causes for amusement
Would you agree with this definition? I didn't make it up, I got it off my iPod's dictionary. Yet if I were to define the term, it would be relatively close to this - as would yours I'm assuming.
Fun is important. Or at least I personally think it is. When I asked a young man what he thought the meaning of life was, he answered with "to have fun." So although his answer is different than my own, it just goes to show the emphasis and importance so much people put on things they describe as fun. It is so important that some people believe it gives their very lives meaning. Why do you think it's important to have fun?
What if you don't think having fun is important? Well, to the very few that think this: if you have any fun you would be doing something incredibly pointless and wasting time. You should instead continue your dull existence in keeping productive, for if having fun isn't important you really have no excuse to do it. But for the majority of the population, let's continue our conversation on the fun topic...
It's hard to discuss the importance of fun without getting into the pros and cons. For instance, the "pros" of having fun could be:
1. It reduces stress levels, which in turn significantly improves one chances of achieving and maintaining healthier physical and mental states.
2. It allows for something positive to think about, perhaps while waiting in anticipation, or perhaps in the form of fond past memories.
3. It appears to give our life meaning.
4. It makes people happy, and generally easy to be around.
Yet I know I don't have to remind you that what is fun for one person isn't exactly fun for another. Example: some people, ladies in particular, think that it is fun to decorate. I do not.
In fact, we can go even further and say that what is fun for a person now may not be fun for the same person in the future. Today I was telling some friends how I haven't gone GT'ing for the longest time (for those of you who are less blessed with snow and good times, GTs are basically a small seat designed for children to steer their way down a snowy hill). How many adults out there reading this still think GT'ing is fun? I'm sure there's still a number of you, myself included, particularly if we had access to a GT built to fit someone of our current stature. How many men out there think that it's still fun to play with race cars? How many ladies still like playing with Barbies? I'm sure you understood my point before I started: one's definition of "fun" changes with age.
Age isn't even the only factor. "Fun" is very situational. For instance, poker may be "fun" to play with people your own level, but how fun would it be playing with a bunch of toddlers? How many of you think that it would be fun to go bowling or swimming one day, but not the next?
Why am I going on about this? Well I simply wanted to point out that I find it really interesting how people are so quick to point out that it's important to have fun, yet not only do they not know or care why it is important, they are also inclined to use the term to describe something as fun even though "fun" isn't a definite property of the thing they are describing, or else everyone would be agreed (if you want, you can try to think of an example of something that everyone would find fun, as it may be a fun little rest for your mind after reading an article about fun that repeats the word "fun" so much).
"But Stephen, you just said earlier why having fun is important," you say (actually, you probably don't say, but it's more fun for me to say that you do). "And what difference does it make if people choose to use the term differently?
To answer this question, let's go over some of the "pros of having fun" that I previously listed, and see if we are truly able to use them to support calling "fun" important.
1. It reduces stress. Does it always? What about the thrill junkie? You know, the guy who speeds on a regular basis and is addicted to doing stunts. Are they having fun? Sure. How is their stress level? It's not for me to say for sure but I would think flirting with the possibility of injury or death is quite stressful, despite the rush of adrenaline that seems to make the experience worth it. Or how about the man who gambles away his family's entire savings? I'm pretty sure this "fun" did nothing to reduce their stress levels. You may claim that this man isn't having fun, but how do you know this? Different people find different things fun, which makes it all the more difficult to say that having fun is important. But chances are you are with me and still claim that it is so, thus we shall continue...
2. It allows for something positive to think about. This is a good thing. Yet, why are we thinking about having fun so much? Is it because some part of us is discontent with our current situation? If this is the case, should we not be attempting to turn our thoughts to thinking positively about the place we are at? Does thinking about past or future fun in turn cultivate in us a poor attitude towards the present? Even if it doesn't: what significance is there to merely thinking about something? It gives us "hope." But if there is no importance to having fun other than the fact that it gives us something to think about or hope for, then in a sense, all fun is giving us is something to think about for the sake of thinking; all fun is doing is making us hope for hope.
Before I go further, I want to invite you to give me reasons why you think having fun is important. I am writing this merely off the top of my head and I know there's a possibility I have missed a thing or two.
3. It gives our life meaning. At least according to the young man I referred to earlier. What does it mean to have "meaning"? The way I see it, if something doesn't have meaning, it doesn't have worth or value. But where is the value in "fun"? This doesn't need to be a rhetorical question. Without fun having worth in and of itself, saying that fun is important because it gives meaning is like saying that fun is important because it's important; fun is important "just because."
4. It makes people happy. Finally, a reason that holds some meaning. Fun gives happiness. This can be the value we were searching for in the last point. This can be used to attribute importance to fun.
Why didn't I start with point number four and save myself a number of words? Simply because I wanted to explore some options, and attempt to disqualify what many people would use to defend their opinion. Now, I get to say "the only reason having fun is important is because it makes people happy," without looking like a thoughtless man who speaks before weighing his words. Does this statement hold weight according to you? If not, let me know why.
But for those of you who are in agreement with me so far and are wondering why I even bothered bring it up...
If the importance of fun comes from the happiness it gives, would it be fair to say that doing something that isn't necessarily "fun" but results in a greater quantity and quality of happiness is even more important than having fun?
It's not fun disciplining a child, but there is a great happiness that comes from raising a well behaved kid. It's not fun going to the dentist, but having a beautiful smile makes you happy, which is good because you'll smile more. It's not fun putting in long hours at work, but you're happy that you're in turn able to provide for yourself and your loved ones and have some financial security. The list of examples is endless.
Something that motivated me to write this article is when someone told me not too long ago that they were doing something simply "because it's fun." How often do you hear or say that phrase with the understanding that other than "fun," there isn't much if any support for doing a particular action?
If the importance of fun lies in the happiness it brings, and things that bring even more happiness are even more important than having fun, would you then not agree that the thing that the thing that gives the most happiness would be the most important thing?
Of course, there are other aspects of life other than happiness which are important, such as truth and virtue. The answer that I will give as to what gives the most happiness also holds these in highest regard as well.
You knew this was coming.
What gives the most happiness? I would say to find any kind of pinnacle happiness we need to peer beyond the realm of the subjective; the solution resides past the world of mere opinion. We need to go to the most reliable source, the most absolute source, the author of happiness. We need to go to God. He gave us the ability to be happy. The answer to what would make us the most happiness belongs with him.
I didn't say God is all about our happiness, but that is a topic that I'm not currently willing to go on in this particular article.
In heaven there will be no sadness, no pain, no death. Can you think of something that would make you more happy than this? What could be more important than an eternity in that realm of absolute happiness? Not the "fun" this world can supply, that's for sure.
Do you know why I'm happy? When you ask me "how's it going?" what I want to reply with is "amazing, because since Jesus died for my sins, I'll be able to live in heaven with Him. No matter how little fun this short life is, I'm happy for the eternity that comes next." Heaven will be more fun than anything else.