It’s a game…23!

Learning to have fun

When we are fixated on solving our problems or getting what we want out of life, things can seem pretty heavy and serious.

But as our emotional set-point improves, that heavy seriousness doesn’t belong anymore.

I’m discovering as I find myself more and more frequently feeling contentment that the path forward is completely different.

It’s like spending months in painful rehab and recovery and you finally have the strength to stand and walk, and now what? Painful rehab is not the purpose of life. That was just what it felt like to regain movement and strength, but when you’ve regained them life should not continue to feel like painful rehab.

In the Abraham-Hicks teachings the way forward is enjoyment and fun. Enjoyment is an essential part of our reason for being here, and the enjoyment of life should feel like fun.

Resistance to fun?

In years of life defined by negative emotions “fun” was never a welcome answer to my problems.

People told me I should just have fun and enjoy life. But their lives didn’t look like fun to me, and my own experience of fun didn’t seem to offer any answers to my problems.

And I was right: fun was not the answer…relief was the answer.

But now I’m in this turning point where relief has to transform into something else.

It’s like working hard to get out of debt…and then what? You’ve eschewed all kinds of luxuries and enjoyments for the sake of paying off the debt; what do you do with the money now?

How can fun be the answer?

After years of fun not being the answer, now it is the answer. Because when you feel good rather than bad, you’re ready to enjoy things in life.

I guess my problem is that I’ve spent so long looking for the deep and meaningful answers to life that I’m not tuned in to the levity and lightness of real enjoyment. I even overtly rejected fun and enjoyment because meaning seemed more important.

I’m recalibrating, tuning in to fun and enjoyment as the most important aspects of my experience, looking for enjoyment with the knowledge that whatever I focus on becomes bigger in my experience.

Life is meant to be fun

My wife told me last night that winning a Nobel Prize extends your lifespan. Assuming the researchers did their homework, that means fame and adulation for one’s life’s work actually helps you live longer.

Good feelings are good. Life is not meant to be grim and miserable, it is meant to be fun and enjoyable. All it takes to let it be fun and enjoyable is to stop focusing on thoughts that feel bad and start focusing on thoughts that feel good.

Gradual improvements

If you persist with this practice, your feelings will gradually change and so will your circumstances. When we focus on thoughts that feel bad, we are drawn to more thoughts and circumstances that match. We unwittingly refuse, resist, and sabotage the good things in life because we’re not willing or practiced at going along with them.

When you focus on thoughts that feel good, thoughts of fun and enjoyment and appreciation, you allow those feelings to gain momentum in your life and open yourself to receive circumstances and conditions that match these good feelings.

Making fun of life

If you can find a feeling of fun in yourself, then you can expect fun to fill your life as well. It just depends on how consistently you can enjoy a feeling of fun without getting thrown off by negative thoughts.

The more frequently you enjoy good feelings, the better your life will feel. You’ll start to see that people who once looked like “victims” of their reality are steadfastly focused on bad-feeling thoughts and circumstances; and the baddest-feeling thought of all is that “I have no control over my circumstances”.

Focusing on fun feelings today is helping me appreciate that I have great potential in this. There’s a lot of fun available to me, and I’m inspired to see how this fun feeling will unfold in my experience, what signs and manifestations will turn up in response to my new point of focus.

Fun with melancholics

A melancholic idealist will typically have a strong sense of being ‘different’ from the majority of people. Both cholerics and melancholics are supposedly less common than phlegmatics and sanguines, yet while cholerics tend to see themselves as superior to the herd, melancholics are usually more self-effacing – interpreting their own differences as faults or flaws.

A melancholic might wonder why he is not more like others, or how to be more like others; yet the details of the differences are quite complicated.

When I was younger I wondered why I didn’t like going out to pubs and clubs with my friends. For some reason the thought of going to such venues for no clear purpose other than to socialise filled me with a general sense of anxiety and fatigue. I don’t know if my friends understood why I hated to go out – I certainly didn’t understand. But from a melancholic perspective it begins to make sense.

Firstly, melancholics do not react strongly to stimuli, but what reactions they have are very enduring.  What this means in the context of the above example is that I was never particularly excited by the positive aspects of going out drinking. I liked drinking, I liked socialising, but I wasn’t as excited by these prospects as a sanguine or a choleric might be, with their highly reactive temperaments.

And if the positive aspects of going out drinking were not especially salient, the negative aspects were almost overwhelming.  Thanks to the melancholic’s enduring impressions, the thought of going out drinking and socialising would immediately bring to mind a (short) lifetime’s catalog of bad and potentially bad, awkward, and dissatisfying experiences, as if to offer a brief reminder of all the things that might go wrong.

Like the melancholic, phlegmatics do not react strongly to stimuli. However, phlegmatics do not have long-lasting impressions either. A phlegmatic might be happy to go out drinking if everyone else is as well. They won’t be put off by an unending stream of bad memories and cautionary tales.

Secondly, the melancholic’s onslaught of mental warnings, bad memories, and careful catastrophising translates almost immediately into fatigue. It is mentally exhausting to have one’s mind suddenly produce a variety of unwanted scenarios without any obvious solution. This mental exhaustion crushes whatever slim enthusiasm or motivation might have remained, and exacerbates the intensity of whatever worries seem most realistic.

Nonetheless, it is hard to avoid the all-encompassing pressure to go out, relax, have fun, and socialise, even if you are temperamentally unsuited to all of the above. A melancholic may be tempted to conclude that with sufficient effort they too can – and therefore should – take part in these hallowed social conventions.

But any genuinely self-respecting answer ought to take into account the peculiarities of the melancholic temperament. We don’t expect sanguines to enjoy endless hours sitting and reading or just thinking to themselves, nor should we expect ourselves to act dramatically against our temperament for the sake of fitting in.

Perhaps the key point – and one I neglected for years – is that it is fundamentally unreasonable to force yourself to do something that other temperaments do for sheer enjoyment.  What a melancholic really needs is not additional effort but greater motivation – that is, a purpose more motivating than drunken socialising to loud music.

Whatever the circumstance, if the purpose is supposed to be ‘enjoyment’ but it feels more like wearying obligation, then perhaps the problem is that it’s simply not enjoyable enough?

The flip-side of the melancholic’s seemingly unhappy nature is that the ideals which motivate us, the things we really do enjoy, can be ecstatic. It just happens that these ideals and sources of enjoyment are not shared by the loud majority.

In the end, that’s all there is to it. It takes more to motivate us because we want more out of life; not more quantity, but more quality. Not more noise, but a more pure note.  We want to be inspired and moved, and it just happens that mainstream culture and society rarely achieve this.