Help me have fun!
October 27, 2005 4:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm not having enough fun.

I'm a 29 year old guy. I'm just not having enough fun. I mostly do passive things like reading and watching movies, either with my girlfriend or friends or alone. I'm overweight, so I don't have a ton of energy for things like hiking or outdoorsy stuff in general. I'm kind of shy - I can talk to people in the right environments, but I'm not one to just strike up a conversation with a stranger. I know I'd like to "have more fun," but I can't think of anything specific I want to do. By the way, I have mild depression that is being treated. Help!
posted by anonymous to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I sometimes feel like I'm not having enough fun because i'm not out drinking away my dead-end job like some other people. However, then I realized that I enjoy doing things like working on my website, reading (books and blogs) and so on.

Fun does not have to equal outdoorsy stuff, it is whatever you enjoy spending your time on.

However if you feel like you're not doing enough outdoorsy stuff, the next time you feel like reading, do it at a park instead of at home.

Life is full of opportunities for big changes that can only start with baby steps.
posted by softlord at 4:25 PM on October 27, 2005

  • Read Bertrand Russell's "The Conquest of Happiness".
  • Try cycling. A lot of overweight folks who cycle are on BikeJournal, which acts as both a good way to keep track of your success and provides a supportive community. You'll be healthier (which opens new vistas of fun) and you may really enjoy cycling. Cycling is rewarding even if you aren't a spandex clad road warrior. As with all things, YMMV (no pun intended)
  • You like movies? Why don't you check out your local public access station and make one? Or you could write a book. If you enjoy these things "passively" maybe you'll enjoy doing them creatively. Learn a musical instrument and start a band.

posted by phrontist at 4:25 PM on October 27, 2005

You should make a distinction between having fun and having a hobby. Most hobbies aren't fun. The hobbies that are fun, generally, are those involving groups of people. That's the key to having fun: other people. (It's possible to have fun by yourself but it's really quite hard; only very few people can do it.) So, talk with your friends, and figure out an activity you can all do together. The activity doesn't really matter though it's best if it's a physical activity like dancing or a sport but you can do the whole boardgame or computer game thing too. All that matters is you do it as a group and you all enjoy each other's company.
posted by nixerman at 4:32 PM on October 27, 2005

I have been told by more than one mental health professional that over a 6 month period, aerobic exercise three times per week is as effective as drugs. So I thoroughly urge you to think about your options and take up something, anything that gets you on your feet.

Not being able to think of anything fun is a symptom of depression anyway, isn't it? Perhaps things will occur to you as you get that under control.

Lastly, if you spend a lot of time passively consuming media, perhaps you could cut it by, say, 20 minutes a day, and dedicate that time to day-dreaming. If I tell you "think of something fun now!" you'll go blank, but if you go sit in the sun on a park bench and fantasise, maybe you'll get some clues about what enjoyable things are missing in your life.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:32 PM on October 27, 2005

As one who has fought the battle with depression (and won, albeit chemically) I think once your treatment kicks in the problem will resolve itself.

I personally do not think exercise alone will take care of depression but I do highly recommend it (It is part of my treatment regimen.) Start with small walks and tiny increments. Exercise does not have to be hell.
posted by konolia at 4:38 PM on October 27, 2005

Do your friends have fun? If so, join in on the fun things they're doing. Even if you're not into the activity itself, fun is contagious.

If your friends don't have fun (or don't have fun often, or prefer to have fun alone) maybe you should be trying to meet new friends. The ones you've got might be great folks, but they may also be part of what's dragging you down — after all, boredom is contagious too.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:38 PM on October 27, 2005

You probably don't need to hear anything about weight or health, but man, I felt the same way. I had a very sedentary life-style and I thought that maybe I would do something to balance that out. So I started walking everyday. I started off slowly, maybe a half-mile. But now four months later I'm up to 2 1/2 miles a day and sometimes even jog. I havn't lost weight or anything, that wasn't my goal.

But here is how this might be of use to you. Every person I know says I'm a different person now. I'm happier and it's easier to have fun with whatever I'm doing.

Like I said, this isn't exactly what you are looking for, but from what you wrote I really believe it could be helpful.
posted by snsranch at 4:50 PM on October 27, 2005

On preview: Right on Konolia!
posted by snsranch at 4:52 PM on October 27, 2005

Lose the weight (for all the relevant reasons). You don't say how your depression is being treated, and I wouldn't second-guess your doctor if he has prescribed medication; but exercise should be an integral part of any mental health treatment, whether or not it's used in conjunction with medication.

Also? Get a hobby. It doesn't matter what it is. Try random things. Y'know how children try dance, soccer, bowling, puzzles, archery, role-playing, whatever...and then eventually, they find something to love? Expect that you'll have to endure lots of false starts. But people with hobbies are rarely bored -- and people without hobbies are usually boring.
posted by cribcage at 4:52 PM on October 27, 2005

> That's the key to having fun: other people.

This is really, really not true for a great many people, and the pressure to "go out and meet people" can keep many introverts from realizing they're having fun. It sounds as cliche as "you need to love yourself before you can find love," but I think you can't really have a good time with other people unless you're comfortable enough with yourself to have fun alone.

That said, classes can be a good compromise. You can keep to yourself and just enjoy learning new things -- dance steps, wine tasting, figure drawing, whatever -- or you can make it more social if you like by talking to other people in your class. (And you've got a built-in topic.) If you're at all interested in dancing, the swing dance classes I took were amazingly social, in a very easy way, and most of the guys in the class were really shy and uncoordinated at the beginning -- it was great to see everyone open up as they got more comfortable.

Other than that, just go out and *do* stuff. It doesn't have to be a big deal, or to somehow define who you are as a person. Go out and see a local music group. Go out and see the exhibit at the art museum. Go for a walk. Go see a foreign film. When I was feeling too hermit-y, I signed up for the email updates from a dozen music & art venues, and a couple lists for "fun cheap activities" in San Francisco, and whenever I got the listings I'd write down anything that looked interesting on my calendar. If I went, great; if I didn't, that was fine; but at least I had a list of potentially interesting things to do always accessible.
posted by occhiblu at 6:27 PM on October 27, 2005

Goal, project, hobby, choose at least one. Learn something new, like another language, ballroom dance, or welding or photography - the local schools probably have Adult Education, or check Universities, craigslist, and local newspapers.
Volunteer somewhere - your United Way will have ideas. Habitat for Humanity and the Animal Shelter usually need volunteers. Start a garden or get active in your neighborhood association.

Don't try to pick the perfect activity; pick anything that is at all interesting to you, and follow it for a while.
posted by theora55 at 7:06 PM on October 27, 2005

take a surfing lesson. end of story.
posted by specialk420 at 7:10 PM on October 27, 2005

Rescue a dog from an animal shelter. You can feed, walk, groom, teach tricks and gain a grateful and devoted companion.

Just My Dog by Gene Hill

He's just my dog.

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds, my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out to sea.

He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being - by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without asking him - I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.

When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.

When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I suceed, he brags.

Without him, I am only another man. With him I am powerful.

He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion.

With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant.

His head on my knee can heal human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me - whenever - in case I need him. And I expect I will, as I always have.

He's just my dog.

From "Just Mutts: A Tribute to the Rogues of Dogdom" ISBN: 1-57223-042-8

Check out these "mutts" via Dog Blog.
posted by plokent at 7:31 PM on October 27, 2005

Have you considered yoga? Once you see past the physical movements there is a quiet, meditative aspect that you may find helpful.

Most studios have a range of class times, from early morning to late evening. I also think you'll find yoga practioners are, in general, an open friendly group of people.
posted by TorontoSandy at 7:33 PM on October 27, 2005

What do you want?

What is your idea of "fun"?

I'm sorry, you need to figure out the answers to these questions yourself. Because my idea of fun is not guaranteed to be yours.

Here's the deal: life isn't easy. It's really, really tricky. Some people think a nice new car is fun. Some people think having lots of money is fun. Some people think railing against car drivers and the rich is fun.

Here's the difficulty: you have to make an effort and sort yourself out instead of hoping someone else will do it for you; or tell you what to do; or tell you how to live your life; or define "fun" for you. This shit ain't easy. But here's the good thing: if you find the nous and the will to do this for yourself... it's kinda fun.

Good luck.
posted by Decani at 8:34 PM on October 27, 2005

Not to jump on the exercise train, but I wholeheartedly agree with everyone who suggests it. Two years ago I was moody, unhappy, depressed, unsatisfied with most aspects of my life, significantly overweight, had no energy and felt that life was generally pretty joyless. (And actually, your age as well.)

I was more of the "exercise should be utter hell" school of thought, so started running as far as I could every night (which was scarecely 1/4 mile without a break at first). I woke up sore every morning for the better part of a year. I run half marathons now, cycle, and get strenuous exercise daily. And I weigh 100 lbs less or so.

Everyone around me says I'm a different person. I smile all the time, I'm not argumentative anymore, I'm relaxed, I love life and I'm bizarrely optimistic.

Exercise, seriously. Getting in shape will open the door to all kinds of fun group activities. In particular I've found Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to be a great activity. Rolling around on the mat with sweaty men doesn't sound like fun, neither does being choked or armbared, but somehow suffering and training together builds a pretty strong bond between you and your training partners. And suffering builds character. I never got that expression before but I think I'm starting to.

Good luck to you.
posted by mragreeable at 8:47 PM on October 27, 2005

I will unabashedly jump on the exercise train. Right up until age 20 I simply considered myself a depressed person. That was when I discovered aerobic exercise and what a difference it makes in my mental state. It was like a fog was lifted, without the side effects of antidepressants, and with positive benefits such as physical health, social activity, opportunity to get out in nature etc.

You don't need to go overboard either. Start by getting yourself an ipod and downloading podcasts, mp3s or something. Find a local trail,beach or scenic walk and start making it a regular thing. Find a sport that interests you and take a class. Your body will adapt, and the "lack of energy" you describe will become a surplus.

I know it isn't true for everyone, but there is something in my physical makeup that requires aerobic exercise 2-3 times a week. Its like food and sleep. I can get away with skimping on it, but it affects my mental state strongly.

Second recommendation: Volunteerism. Find a cause you can donate some time to, make a commitment and stick to it. It feels surprisingly good.
posted by Manjusri at 9:23 PM on October 27, 2005

I'm overweight, so I don't have a ton of energy for things like hiking or outdoorsy stuff in general.

Consider rewriting that as I don't do anything to get fit, so I don't have a ton of energy.

mragreeable's approach (exercise should be hell) probably isn't what works for most folks, but YMMV. A better bet is to buy some light hiking shoes that fit well and give you good support (if money isn't an issue) and try walking for 10 minutes a day (or twice a day), then 15 minutes, then 20, and so on.

And keep in mind that, evolutionary-wise, human beings (like other animals) weren't designed (if you will) to be both sedimentary and healthy. In fact, there is plenty of evidence that exercise causes the body to release some nice chemicals (see cases above, for example). Bonus: find something you'll enjoy (yoga, biking, hiking, whatever) that is pleasurable to do even if it wasn't burning calories.

You can even exercise at home, to a videotape [or DVD, these days], if you want.
posted by WestCoaster at 9:26 PM on October 27, 2005

weren't designed (if you will) to be both sedimentary and healthy

Did you mean "sedentary"? ;)

I've found that everyone's idea of "fun" is different. Some people like to go out dancing and partying; I don't like loud noise so for me going out with a small group of friends to a quieter place is more "fun". Just remember not to try conforming to somebody else's idea of fun stuff if it doesn't interest you in the least.

Have you tried something like a road trip to some exotic locale? I've found driving on long stretches is fun for me, for instance.
posted by madman at 10:39 PM on October 27, 2005

This may sound kind of silly, but try making extremely small changes to your habits: having something different for breakfast, reversing the order in which you tie your shoelaces. If you feel like you're stuck in a rut, making small changes is one way to build up to making larger changes.
posted by russilwvong at 10:46 PM on October 27, 2005

I have to agree with Mr. Agreeable above. I mean, he sounds like he's having a blast, has lost a lot of weight, and says he is incredibly optimistic. Sounds like your very three birds are killed with one stone. And really, how could I not believe him with a name like mragreeable!

Seriously, exercise - simple walking - changed my life. I only wish I had listened to people who said this years ago.

posted by Independent Scholarship at 11:57 PM on October 27, 2005

Another vote for getting some exercise, and to say that this is spot-on.
posted by scody at 12:06 AM on October 28, 2005

Some sage advice here, particularly from occhiblu and Manjusri.

I had an abnormal psych professor who treated a lot of depressed well-off housewives, and he said most of them came to him because they said "they felt empty". His advice was for them to volunteer, as Manjusri suggested.

I realize you don't necessarily feel empty, you want to have fun, but I think it would be rewarding to volunteer; you'll feel good about yourself, it'll get you out of the house, you'll meet new people and/or animals that need you and it could lead to other serendipitous activities.

By the way, I think the fact that you're seeking out fun is a sign that your depression is getting better. Best of luck. *Dons swami shawl* I see good times in your future :)
posted by Devils Slide at 2:32 AM on October 28, 2005

The hobbies that are fun, generally, are those involving groups of people. That's the key to having fun: other people. (It's possible to have fun by yourself but it's really quite hard; only very few people can do it.)

I am the total opposite. I have no idea whether this is common or not. I agree with occhiblu that this isn't necessarily true. If I took this advice, I'd probably be miserable most of the time. My methods of having fun are things I can do by myself: interacting with others is often more of a chore than a pleasure.

That said, my advice would be to try several things:

- Get outside. Go somewhere every once in a while. An aquarium, a museum, a record store, the library.

- Create something. Take pictures while taking a walk, sketch what you see from your window, write down your thoughts, fingerpaint, make a collage. Even if you do not think of yourself as a creative person, or an artist. Often, creating a tangible thing (a photograph, a drawing, a journal) is very satisfying and fun.

- Try exercise. And it doesn't have to be a going-to-the-gym-every-other-day type exercise. Just get a walkman or mp3 player and go for a walk for an hour. Hum along. It's fun.

You mention that you do "passive" things, like reading books or watching movies. What I've been doing recently is writing up little mini-reviews for every book or movie I see, just for myself. This, to me, is fun. It also forces me to articulate what I enjoy about these art forms. It might make you feel that these "passive" activities are more productive.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 7:14 AM on October 28, 2005

Ignore all the losers who want to talk to you about fun, the nature of fun, hobbies, people, talking... blah blah blah.

Get yourself a gym membership. Get some personal trainer time. Go to the gym every. single. day.

This will solve 80% of your problems on a biochemical, personal, and social level... trust me.

While sixth months from now you might not be having any more fun, you won't care. You'll like sitting on the couch and watching movies with your girlfriend... how much fun you aren't having will stop bothering you.

Don't do yoga, or get a pet, or develop a hobby. For God's sake.
posted by ewkpates at 8:47 AM on October 28, 2005

This is a good thread. However, I would definitely ignore the people telling you what NOT to do (Don't do yoga, Don't get a pet, Don't develop a hobby, etc.). The kind of "advice" that implies everyone fits in one box is worth passing over -- quickly.

posted by Independent Scholarship at 9:31 AM on October 28, 2005

I'm also not sure what you mean by fun, but: there are a lot of things I do regularly that aren't "fun" per se, but make me much happier in general. They're usually slightly challenging, but more the sense of "getting off my ass" than "learning a difficult new procedure." I cook/bake semi-gourmet food 3-4 times a week, have started brewing & bottling my own rootbeer & sodas, volunteer on occasion, take photographs, go for long bike rides, write fiction & poetry.. Basically, I push myself to do things that are somewhat productive & challenge my natural inclination towards the path of least resistance! None of these things are thrilling while I'm doing them--it's more like discipline--but the good feeling I get by accomplishing these sorts of things on a regular basis may pass for fun!
posted by soviet sleepover at 11:08 AM on October 28, 2005

Welcome to tonight's performance of ask me, this time the part of the broken record will be played by phearlez.

get some exercise.

The best part of it is that at your stage it's a zero-cost thing time-wise. You'll have more energy and enthuseasm which will likely more than make up in waking energetic hours for any time you spend in the gym or walking.

Find something you find at least not-unpleasant or just go walk on the treadmill. If you like movies or tv you can find a way to do that while you walk.
posted by phearlez at 11:53 AM on October 28, 2005

Welcome to tonight's performance of AskMe; this time, the part of the broken record will be played by ikkyu2.

Get some exercise.

I like cycling, but you might not. Pick something that you can enjoy and that will get your heart rate up.
posted by ikkyu2 at 5:21 PM on October 28, 2005

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