We think of fun as those situations where everybody is laughing or smiling and having a great time. Sure, that might be one definition of fun. But I’m starting to think there’s another type of fun which is not necessarily that enjoyable when you’re experiencing it. I like to call it “Type 2 Fun.”
Type 1 fun is people’s traditional definition of fun: it’s very pleasurable while it’s going on. It’s immediately obvious in the moment that fun is being had by all. I wanted to write this article about Type 2 Fun. That’s the type of fun which is a hardship that you go through together with your friends. It’s actually not fun at all in the moment. Later, when you look back on it, though, you think about it fondly.
Let me give you an example. I had an experience about a year ago where I was hiking with two of my very good friends + my dog + one of my friend’s dogs. We went to a large national park. It was a huge forest which was very far out of town. We were able to get away from civilization far enough from other people that we were able to let the dogs off of their leashes. Of course, the dogs absolutely love being able to run wild, so soon as we released them, they got huge smiles on their faces. I remember they kept circling around us while we were hiking through this dense forested area. My dog Jack even spotted a deer at one point and ran after him. In fact, he almost caught the deer and I could see an immense look of satisfaction on his face. Clearly we were in Type 1 Fun territory.
As our hike continued and as we got further and further away from civilization, we could see rain clouds on the horizon. We didn’t really think of it as a big deal and we continued hiking but but eventually the rain came upon us. There wasn’t any lightning so I didn’t feel in danger at all but fairly soon we were engulfed in an absolutely torrential downpour. At this time of the season it was a bit cold, just enough so that it was extremely uncomfortable being wet. We had not expected for rain to happen that day so we did not have umbrellas, we did not have raincoats, we were just in normal clothes with hiking backpacks on.
Because we were in dense forest, there wasn’t any place to find shelter. We were far enough away from civilization that we were not able to turn back. The only way to proceed was to go forward while stuck in this very heavy rain. It was highly stressful at the time. I don’t recall the exact particulars but I do remember each of us yelling in desperation. One of us shouted: “Let’s go forward!” Another exclaimed: “No, let’s go backwards!” In point of fact, we all had different ideas about the appropriate way to deal with the situation.
I remember two moments from that day extremely clearly. The first was my dog Jack cowering under a boulder that was just large enough for him because he was so desperate to get out of the rain. I remember having to pull him out of there because all five of us could not fit in the space the size of a medium-large dog, so we had to keep moving. Plus at least moving kept us slightly warmer than staying still.
Ultimately we were able to find a much larger boulder that allowed us to secure a little semblance of shelter. For context, this was after we had gotten rained on for at least 30 minutes, possibly an hour, so we huddled together for warmth while we waited for the rain to subside. I remember feeling very emotionally close to my friends who were in this situation together with me. We were all aligned towards a common goal.
Eventually the rain did subside. We journeyed on foot back to civilization, extremely wet, and it was honestly very uncomfortable. I remember being a little bit grumpy because I was cold but we all recognized that there was no way other than forward. There was no easy solution to the situation we found ourselves in.
I started thinking about that experience earlier today as I sat in my warm, dry home. It made me feel really happy to think back on it. Not just my being dry and warm now, but more importantly remembering that internal sensation of emotional closeness we encountered in that very difficult situation.
It got me thinking about the nature of fun and the nature of happiness in general. Of course we all love to have pleasant experiences. We all love to be amused with simple pleasures and we don’t necessarily love to encounter adversity. But sometimes adversity is what brings us together. Sometimes adversity is what allows us to find the best in ourselves.
Here at Aspire, we’re very big at looking for the positive inside of the negative. I wanted to write this article so that people understand that there’s more than one type of fun. There’s Type 1 Fun, which is fun and that moment, and then there’s Type 2 Fun, which is adversity which you look back on after the fact with fondness. Sometimes those are the moments that make our life worth living, so next time you’re going through a situation that seems difficult remember that those are the moments that may prove to be the most valuable and those moments may lead to the most growth. Those are the moments that you may just look back on at the end of your life with the largest amount of pleasure.