We are frequently reminded of the good and bad things to include in our lives, and as such, it is important to ensure some of these are ones that we enjoy. Woody Allen once said “You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred”. If we use food as an example, presumably this would involve cutting out all of the good stuff such as ice cream, wine, pizza etc…, but where is the fun in that?

I was recently reminded of the importance of having fun when I started attempting a new exercise called the human flag. Practicing it instantly made me smile whereas an exercise called a muscle up had been far less enjoyable to learn. The contrast in feeling apprehensive about the struggle of a muscle up and the excitement of the flag helped highlight the difference between enjoyment in the present and enjoyment when looking back on an achievement.

However, this notion is not exclusive to an exercise setting, indeed we can find examples of this in all walks of life. In his book titled ‘Happiness by Design’, Paul Dolan states that an activity can be pleasurable and / or purposeful, and finding a balance between the two is key. Eating an ice cream or watching tv would be classed as pleasurable but not very purposeful, whereas cleaning up litter on a beach or working on something important but not exciting could be purposeful but not as pleasurable. 

So how do we find balance between the two? I don’t think anyone can tell you how to find it as the activities which bring you pleasure and purpose will vary from person to person. All I can say is that if you do end up watching tv for hours one night, don’t feel guilty about it, you may have needed the time to switch off and recharge. Conversely if you find yourself glued to the sofa for weeks on end, it might be time to find a new hobby, just try to find one which makes you smile!


As Charlie Chaplin would say: “A day without laughter is a day wasted”.