Recently someone commented to me that after I moved past this separation transition phase onto my new life, I could begin to have fun. The comment threw me. I thought I was already having moments of fun. Besides, my ultimate aim in life is for happiness aided by moments of joy.
What is the difference?
‘Fun‘ means a short-term activity, especially a leisure activity, that brings on feelings of excitement, merriment and laughter.
‘Joy‘ is an intense feeling of great delight or a relaxed feeling of pleasure.
‘Happiness‘ is a state of mind, an inner feeling of contentment and well-being.
The question is, while I had been filling my days with things that gave me joy and pleasure, was I having fun? More importantly, was including ‘fun’ necessary for my ultimate ‘happiness’.
There are different types of activities that provide pleasure: exciting activities (parties, dancing, exhilarating sports); relaxation (reading, nature, watching movies); socialising (family, friend, coffee with workmates); experiential (travelling, going to a show); and growth activities (learning a musical instrument, finishing a project, helping someone).
I believe if you are happy then any of the above pleasurable activities can add to your happiness. Furthermore, distractions from adversities by engaging in such activities can also be important, even healing. On the other hand, if your inner soul is not at peace, then pleasurable short-term activities provide a distraction but they do not ultimately lead to happiness. In fact constantly engaging in distracting fun activities can sometimes impinge on lifetime happiness. Here are some examples:
Eating ice-cream or cake is fun. Over-eating can lead to overweight, lower self-esteem and block ultimate happiness. Shopping is fun. Shopping to excess or getting too far into debt can lead to financial difficulties and put you under distress. Parties uplift the spirits. Drinking to excess can lead to relationship problems. Holidays are pleasurable. Excess travel can lead to being discontent with your normality. Watching TV is relaxing. Engaging in aimless activities to excess prevents you from seeking more meaningful activities.
To experience pleasure from growth activities, which can be the ultimate source of personal fulfillment, initially may mean sacrificing short-term pleasure for sustained happiness. For example: giving up mindless relaxation in order to practice a musical instrument ultimately leads to greater happiness when you become an accomplished musician. Becoming more educated means putting in years of study in lieu of other pastimes. Living frugally, budgeting wisely and investing soundly leads to eventual financial independence and the ultimate freedom to enjoy ‘fun’ activities without guilt.
Probably the initial comment at the start of this post was that, by some definitions of ‘fun’, I was missing out on some activities – those short-term bursts of excitement .
My thoughts are, rather than me missing out on or avoiding those activities, there is the fact that I am now making my own choices entirely by what is right for me. I am engaging in activities more suited to my introvert personality and my need for stability. I prefer planned rather than spontaneous events. I enjoy relaxation over engaging in frenetic pastimes. I choose not to sacrifice long-term financial security for buying meaningless objects or attending shallow events. I love interacting with people one-on-one or in small groups rather than in large crowds. I get pleasure out of completing projects with a long-term sense of accomplishment rather than doing activities that yield a short-term buzz of excitement. Whilst I do savour short-term pleasurable moments, I steer towards simple moments of ‘joy‘ – those intense feelings of pleasure – watching the sunrise, seeing my grandchildren play and learn, engaging with my loved ones, and finishing my self-assigned projects to the best of my ability. These moments endure and can be looked back at with gladness. In that respect they are longer-lasting and therefore, I believe, ultimate contributors to my overall happiness.
To be truly happy means knowing myself and living by my own inner compass. My definition of happiness is up to me. Becoming happy by my definition is also up to me.
I believe I am already on my way to happiness. Living my own true self towards self-fulfillment, towards my highest self, can only add to my long-term happiness.
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
I loved your post! I think many, after having overcome some major distress, would not bother too much to analyse the re-gained positivity… but i am like you, i LOVE analyzing my own feelings, where they came from, i love labeling them and taking the responsibility as well! Your essay did resonate with me, i must say!
Thanks so much for your kind comment. I do think that thinking about feelings (and as you say, analyzing them) helps me realise that I no longer have to live by others expectations. Putting that down on paper makes it stick!
Thanks for stopping by 🙂
I like this post, Elizabeth. It looks like you have it in you to enjoy your life the way it is. You sound like a basically happy person. And when some fun comes along you don’t reject it but you go for it as part of your new life. Good on you! Go for it. 🙂
I am grateful for what I have and enjoy the moments of joy that come my way. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.
Love this post Elizabeth! Let no one define you or define what happiness is for you! When you really think about it, one can have fun even whilst working; a joke shared with a co-worker, satisfaction at a project done well, laughing at one’s self when we say or do something silly… ❤
You are SO correct. And believe me when I say it that I have gained SO much inspiration from you and how you seem to love your life and having fun by making your own.
Elizabeth the feeling is SO mutual – thank you!
I love this. I love the way you have thoughtfully put down what it is that makes you happy and how others views of that have no real bearing on what you know about yourself. I too do this self-analysis all the time.
Yes, it so correct to find what truly makes us happy, rather than do what other people will think make us happy.
Your strength & insight amaze me Elizabeth! I would’ve been spared YEARS of despair if I’d had your fortitude back then.
Thanks. Believe me when I say that I have had to work at it!
Well done Elizabeth. Highly thoughtful and insightful exploration of three often confused concepts! For me joy is the key. I need to seek joy in each moment. When I do that I am happy, and in some instances am also having fun. I wonder also about how contentment fits into this mix.
You made me think there and I have written another post, almost like a post-script to this one. Thanks for your input.
I love this post, Elizabeth! As Ian said above, I too believe Joy is the key to true contentment. And being a fellow introvert, I completely understand the points you make here on how you go about achieving it. Like everyone, I have my problems and struggles, but finding satisfaction in the activities I love gives me a quiet joy that sustains me.
Thanks for your thoughtful reply and thinking about the issues further I have now written another post expanding the subject.
By the way, I had not realised that you too have problems and struggles. You must be a very positive optimistic person as your posts are always uplifting. Thanks for your continued inspiration.
I try not to rant about things that get me down in my blog, preferring instead to look at the things in life I am grateful for. Not only is it therapeutic to practice gratitude this way, I think it makes for a more positive experience for my followers too. Sometimes my darker emotions come out in poems, though (and in the book I’m writing).
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Sometimes, people unintentially think that the separation and divorce may have set your feelings of happiness or moments of fun aside, maybe because a lot of us, “wallow” in it. I did feel sorry for myself until the final relief feelings set in. I hope that you know that person may not have meant it the way it sounded! I am big at putting my foot in my mouth so could see that potential disaster wording coming from me! You have defined yourself as a contented introvert, that will mean others may not see the results of your contentment at every move, but they will sense it, they will see the calm outer you who will shine and enjoy her new beginnings, as well as the ones you have already started and have been involved in. I enjoy nature, books and television, along with dancing, meeting people and some of our paths would overlap. But, definitely like having someone to shop with and tag along with on errands. All those years of having three plus a few extra, they set a pattern to my way of living. Great analysis of your different emotions!
I hear what you say about misinterpreting what people say. I have to keep stopping myself and tell myself ‘they are only trying to help’. Also as I am discovering the introvert delights and enjoying them, I get frustrated that my extrovert friends & family don’t understand what makes me tick, and think that by doing quieter things then I am still ‘wallowing”.
As you say, time will see them understand as I go about in my new enlightened calm way. ….. mostly on my own, but sharing with others when I can (and want to).
Thanks for your kind words. I really appreciate it.
Okay I have my thinking cap on now!
Me too 🙂
I think it’s a struggle for us introverts–especially those of us with unusual needs–to realize that we are, after all, quite content with a life that 3/4 of the world would consider too quiet, boring, unexciting, or just too full of hassles Since even we are social creatures who need the feedback and validation that relationships provide, it often takes a long time before we can trust that our own compass is pointing north (in the right direction). Or rather, takes a while to figure out that we have to adjust for our particular magnetic declination because we’re coming from a slightly different place. (it took me a long time to stop feeling like I needed to defend and justify my preferences/needs,. I don’t need to justify why or make people understand or accept that I am this way, I just need to take care of my needs).
Brave talk–but for some reason it’s still a wee bit ouchy for me when people don’t get it. I suppose that’s my unrealistic desire for peace, harmony and perfect resolution.
I think your last line says it all that as well as accepting what our own needs are (one of which is peace and harmony), we also do not want to have to fight to obtain these needs or to be understood.
It is said that at a time of adversity, one should look at the opportunities that present and one of the advantages I have found of being left alone is that I do not have to struggle at finding peace my inner peace anymore.
The feeling can be quite exhilarating 🙂
there is a blog I follow that focuses on this. You may want to have a look at it.
Thanks for your comment. It was uplifting for me today. 🙂
I read this post again today. I LOVE it. Thank you so much.
Thanks. I really appreciate that you appreciate my thoughts. Thanks for stopping by
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