I doubt this will really surprise anyone in this fun-loving place, but a study by a Princeton researcher confirms that adults are at their happiest when “engaging in leisure activities.” Not when they’re doing dishes, driving to work or trying to take over the world. People, no matter what their age, are happy when they play. What a concept. Seems so silly even to write the words. I imagine my 8-year old niece giving me her most reproving look. “Duh!” she would say. Yes, indeed. Duh.
But, still, so many of us get to age 22 and forget entirely the fun we used to have splashing in waves, playing tag or racing our friends on bikes. Especially if we aren’t drunk. Lesley described the elation of a good bit of fun perfectly in her post the other day, when her ride home from a good night out left her and her partner giggling and sweaty. That’s a fine moment and it was made possible, in part, by the bike.
An article I found today on the Huffington Post, called The Key to Happiness, posits that the reason we are happiest while we play is because our lives are so driven by utilitarian purposes that we forget the function of leisure. We are supposed to be productive therefore we engage in activities that produce; we’re so seriously involved in making things happen that we forget that things happen even when we kick back and relax.
While I think the article makes some nice points, I’m going to disagree with the proposition that fun cannot be productive. Case in point: riding a bike. It takes me places and I enjoy it while I do. As far as I’m concerned, the only limitation on the fun we decide to have is the fun we fail to pursue. So, if you run out of milk, hop on the bike and feel the wind on your face as you go. If you have to go to work, pull out your bike and play on your way. You can play on your way home too. Running to the bank? Well, you get it. The chores in life can always tolerate improvements and a bike ride is an easy DIY.
Utility plus fun. Now that’s some functional happiness.