The Three Types of Fun

In “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, she talks about the three types of fun:

  1. Challenging fun
  2. Accommodating fun
  3. Relaxing fun

Challenging fun

Challenging fun requires a good amount of effort and some planning. You feel this when learning a new skill or trying a competitive sport. It pushes your boundaries, is the most demanding, and can even be stressful.

It’s also the most rewarding. Challenging fun is when you feel lasting personal growth or accomplishment. It allows you to build mastery over difficult things.

Lately, I’ve been getting into hiking and backpacking, not just pushing my body but needing to learn a whole new set of skills. It’s been tough, but every trip makes me feel accomplished and proud. I go home literally fist-pumping.

Accommodating fun

Accommodating fun is typically fun you do for other people. These are social events, group activities, or just spending quality time with friends and family. It’s not as difficult as challenging fun, but it still requires a lot of effort.

Where challenging fun is about skill development or mastery, accommodating fun is about building social connections. It’s another form of long-term happiness.

I’m about to travel to visit my parents and my sister for a week. While I’ll exert a lot of effort throughout the trip, it will fill me with so much joy to be around my family for the first time in a while.

Relaxing fun

This kind of fun is just as valid as the others, but because it’s the easiest, it’s often our default. It can also be the most addicting. Many people spend more time in this mode than the other two.

TV shows, video games, reading, and movies; all of these are entirely good ways to have fun. However, this mode of fun is more short-term and often doesn’t lead to lasting happiness like the other types of fun do.

Everything in moderation

I’m trying to ensure I have a good mix of all three in my life, as that seems to be the key to more happiness.

Here are some questions I’ve been asking myself to see how balanced my fun is:

  • Am I currently striving toward a personal goal?
  • Am I learning anything new and challenging?
  • Am I spending time with the people that matter to me?
  • Am I going out of my way to keep and strengthen friendships?
  • Am I taking time to relax and decompress