The 2 types of fun

Here’s a short article everyone should read.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been sick in my apartment with nothing but time on my hands.

Basically, we define fun as something that is purely pleasurable and enjoyable. But there are actually two types of fun:

Type 1 Fun: Pure fun, untarnished by setbacks

The traditional idea of fun.

These are the things that provide us with dopamine. With smiles and laughs.

For example, when I play a riveting game of chess where I defend well, set up brutal attacks, and win in style…it feels amazing.

Dillan Taylor having fun winning in chess
A well deserved win after a long, tactical game.

When you think about improving in a skill, Type 1 Fun is what gets the spotlight in your mind. It’s the magazine cover. The glamor shot.

It’s fun to imagine yourself as a chess champion, or in great physical shape, or as a phenomenal writer.

But what actually gets you there?

Type 2 Fun: Suffering now; fun after the fact, in retrospect

This is all the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff.

Type 2 Fun is an investment. You sacrifice your comfort now so you can reap the rewards and experience more Type 1 Fun later.

Running sprints does not sound like fun. But it’ll feel great when you finish. You’ll get a runner’s high, be in better shape moving forward, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.

My version of this has been working through chess exercises.

A not so fun chess exercise
The goal is to find the winning combination in your head.

What sucks about these exercises is they can be incredibly boring.

But the worst part about them is that they’re incredibly necessary.

Firstly, they can occasionally be fun. Staring at a puzzle for ten minutes and finally figuring it out is a lovely feeling.

But the point of this Type 2 Fun practice is to set you up for future Type 1 Fun.

You may not notice it in the moment, but it’s almost always boring practice that gives you the skills to play better and improve at what you do.

Playing hours of scales is boring, but those scales are setting you up for more improvisation and soloing, which is fun.

Therefore:

Playing hours of scales = fun

It’s the same with exercise, writing, coding, editing, or any other skill.

Conclusion

Spend more time doing Type 2 Fun. Deliberate practice. Repetitions.

This will bring you much more fun and fulfillment in the long run.

We are all familiar with the life-changing Harry Potter books.

But none of us saw JK Rowling locked in a hotel room banging her head against her keyboard for hours on end.

Because that’s not fun…not yet.