Category Archives: Satisfaction

Getting happier needn’t always be fun

Although I don’t know for certain, at least once in your life I’m pretty sure you’ve been asked ‘What do you do for fun?’. It’s a question I hate, as it tends to mean that the other person wants to know what you do outside your working and/or domestic life. But what if, as it does for Alex and me, a big part of your fun actually comes from the work you do?

It’s as if the questioner expects to have some very specific hobby or pastime.

Pigeon-fancying, embroidery anyone?

When someone’s mood has dropped, it’s not unusual for well-meaning others to suggest they ‘do something fun’. I say ‘well-meaning’ because I’m sure they are, but the simple truth is that if I’m feeling low, the chances of me ‘doing something fun’ are about as low as, oh I don’t know, setting off on a cycle crossing of the Pyrenees.

I mean, I don’t even own a bike.

Jocularity aside, I’d suggest there’s generally zero likelihood of low mood sufferers having even the vaguest shred of motivation for doing something fun, even though they know it might do them good.

So if it’s you who’s suffering, what can you do about this? How can you realistically schedule activities that might help you through your darker days, while at the same time recognising that you’ll probably run a mile to avoid anything with the word ‘fun’ attached to it?

Quite simply I think it helps to remember that satisfaction can play just as big a part in overall happiness as do pleasure and enjoyment. Almost certainly you can bring to mind tasks you do that aren’t necessarily much fun, but from whose completion you derive satisfaction. For example, I quite like loading and emptying the dishwasher. I can get a buzz out of mowing a lawn. I don’t mind making beds.

Now none of these activities are likely to impress the person who asks you what you do for fun. ‘Oh wow, yes, when I leave the office I just can’t wait to get home to unload the dishwasher.’ Doesn’t quite work, does it?

The point is though, if you’re feeling low you’re far more likely to manage modest tasks like the ones I describe than you are to plan an outing to a theme park.

So why not be realistic? Set yourself simple goals – taking on one or two small jobs whose completion will give you a sense of quiet satisfaction can be a really good way of lifting your mood and of course if they’re domestic chores you’ll have the benefit of a tidier and cleaner house or garden as a nifty side-effect.