No Not Having Fun

I recently heard about a little girl whose number one rule for a new club she was forming with her friends was “No not having fun.”

Can anything be more fundamental than this simple piece of wisdom? There is nothing less fun than not having fun.

By fun, I don’t necessarily mean going through life with a lampshade on one’s head, but with a sense of joy, of feeling connected to ourselves and others, of being content with what is. Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron, says it well:

“Now is the only time. How we relate to it creates the future. In other words, if we’re going to be more cheerful in the future, it’s because of our aspiration and exertion to be cheerful in the present. What we do accumulates; the future is the result of what we do right now.”

Living by the “No not having fun” dictum requires discipline and creativity because life is not a continual amusement. Its challenges, many of which originate in the mausoleum of the mind, can be real killjoys.

But as the 19th century philosopher, mystic, and psychologist, William James, observed, the mind can also be fun’s number one event planner: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can change his life by changing his attitude of mind.”

One of the biggest gifts I ever gave myself is to attend a 10-day Vipassana meditation boot camp in which I explored the mayhem of my mind. According to the teacher, S.N. Goenka: “Practice of Vipassana reveals that mental action precedes every physical and vocal action, determining whether that action will be wholesome or unwholesome. Mind matters most.”

On the final day of the course, we were all glowing with joy. Not because our lives were perfect. Most of us were there because we were in some kind of crisis, and we were all on our way back to deal with it. As we were waiting for the bus, one of the women said to me with shining eyes, “Life sucks so you may as well be happy.”

Fun is way more possible if we don’t make it contingent on things being perfect or even passable. Pema gets the last word on this: “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

And fun. Have yourself some fun today.

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6 thoughts on “No Not Having Fun

  1. pj reece

    Can’t get enough reminders to be present to the only moment that will ever be. For most of us, ocassionally remembering — on a regular basis — is probably the best we can do. And it’s no small achievement.

    May I offer one small tweak to one of your thoughts? Instead of the future being “the result of what we do right now,”…how about the future BEING what we do right now! ”

    Hey, Donaleen…how about more frequent reminders!

  2. Cathy Sosnowsky

    What a lovely message on this lovely, sunny Sunday. Ainsley and I are off to have fun at some harvest event at the Community Centre. Actually, I could use a pause from all that kind of fun.

    An evening with you next week–now that’s my idea of real fun! Even though we’re apt to talk about grief.



  3. Kajsa Futrell

    So true, so true. For myself it has taken a lot of courage to be able to really feel and not be defensive or hide from what I was feeling. In the process I have found myself more able to flow with what is happening and not to resist and get all tied up in knots and then it hurts so much!
    Thank you Donaleen
    Love Kajsa

  4. Daya

    Thanks, once again, Donaleen, for that loving nudge to awareness. Your words are such gifts.

  5. Shelly Jones

    I must look at things more carefully in future. When quickly glancing at the title of your blog I thought it read: “No, not having fun”. What a difference that nasty little comma makes! I postponed reading it because I haven’t been having much fun lately and didn’t want to do anything to contribute to my feelings of malaise. Needless to say, I should have read the title more carefully and I could have benefitted from what you had to say much earlier. Thanks so much Donaleen for expressing so eloquently what I needed to hear.

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