There Is More Than Just Fun
I try to remind myself of this lesson regularly because it is fundamental to maintaining positive habits. James Stuber has also written about the topic.
When I first heard about this mindset, I was blown away. I had always thought there was only one kind of fun. After all, fun is fun - you either have it or you don't.
But there are actually three different types of fun.
Type 1 Fun
This type means pure joy. It's the fun you immediately think of. What Type 1 fun means to the individual differs greatly, of course.
The fun of this type is not diminished by external circumstances. You have fun during the activity and also afterwards when you think back on it. Examples would be seeing your family, pursuing a hobby, or celebrating with friends. Such activities are fun and create pleasant memories.
However, there are also activities where you have fun, but regret them afterwards, for example eating a whole bar of chocolate. This type of action could be classified as fun type 1.5.
Type 2 Fun
This type of fun has never really come to my attention. Type 2 fun means not having fun while doing the activity. This may sound contradictory at first, but the main aspect of this category is that you have fun after you did something. So during the execution you suffer, but in retrospect you have fun.
That's why Type 2 is also called “delayed” fun. While jogging, you usually don't have fun (unless this activity counts as Type 1 fun for you), but looking back, you are still happy and satisfied that you exercised.
Most positive habits fall into this category. You have to overcome yourself to perform them, but then you are rewarded with delayed gratification. Still, you should not hate your habits.
Type 3 Fun
This category is quickly explained. It means, in short, not having fun. Both during the execution of the activity and afterwards, one does not feel pleasure.
It is probably unnecessary to mention that one should avoid such activities if possible, unless they are unavoidable tasks, because the opposite of pleasure is depression.
Why Type 2 Fun Is Attractive
Category 2 is attractive because in order to get the pleasure, i.e. the reward, you have to pass a challenge. The human brain loves to solve problems and pass challenges: After performing a challenging activity, it responds with satisfaction. Therefore, type 2 fun is the most satisfying kind of fun.
However, in order to feel this satisfaction, you first have to get over yourself to do the task that seems unattractive at first glance. Often people think something belongs to type 3 fun, when in fact it belongs to the second category. This confusion is responsible for being much less motivated. In the early stages, this also applies to many habits that are actually positive.
It helped me a lot to change my view on things. By realizing that Type 2 fun exists, I have tried to increase my anticipation of activities that belong to this category. At first, this felt very strange, and I admit that I'm still working on applying this lesson more often. But after a while, the brain learns to handle delayed rewards better.
Through this development, thinking in fun categories is also very helpful for building positive habits.
You can read more about improving your habits in my article “How to Improve Your Habits.”
How the Fun Categories Can Help With Habit Building
Personally, this lesson has helped me a lot in maintaining my positive habits. I really hope that I can help you with it, too!
Plus, Type 2 fun helps you gain new experiences and step outside your comfort zone. For example, I gained valuable experience from my first speech.
Positive habits have the annoying characteristic that you have to make an effort to do them. If you want to do sports, you first have to overcome your inner resistance and bring yourself to go for a run.
Personally, this overcoming has become easier for me since I have thought about the positive feeling and joy that await me as a reward after doing sports.
Looking back, you're glad and grateful that you did it. If you are like me, the next time will be much easier for you thanks to this cognitive reward.