The 3 Types of Fun – An Analysis




  1. enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure

          synonyms: enjoyment, entertainment, amusement, pleasure

Google defines the word “fun” as enjoyment, amusement, or lighthearted pleasure. Antonyms of the word include misery, gloom, woe, and drudgery. I’m here to tell you that depending on what type of fun you’re having, these can be one and the same.

Did you know that there were different subsets of fun? Neither did I until I started spending more time in the outdoor community. The three types of fun are commonplace in this realm and the terms are used quite often to describe a day spent outdoors. If you’ve spent much time recreating outside, traveling, or even participating in many sports, chances are you have experienced these three types of fun and never even knew they had names. If you are unaware of the fact that sometimes fun can suck really, really bad, then buckle up and enjoy your journey through my analysis of the three different types of FUN.



Definition: an all-around grand old time without a moment of discontent or displeasure

Examples: sightseeing, watching Anchorman, paddle-boarding, going to a concert, showing your buddy a hilarious YouTube video, SCUBA diving, roasting marshmallows around a fire, exploring a museum, a day spent chowing pow at Mary Jane/Breck/CB etc.

Analysis: This is the definition that comes to mind for most people when they think of the word “fun”. It is the one described by dictionaries and the most common interpretation when someone tells you they had a “fun” day/time/trip etc. It often contains few to zero moments of displeasure, unease, or wishing you were doing something else at that time. This is the most common type of fun had by all and can be reached easily and often. When you think of Type 1 fun think of the classic amusements: a father and son tossing the football, a group of friends playing a drinking game, or newlyweds having sex… well, usually.



Definition: a time that was generally enjoyed but perhaps mostly in hindsight

Examples: getting lost in a new city, floating a river for the first time, participating in elementary school mile-run day, hiking a 14er, sending a tough climbing route, collegiate athletics, most backcountry skiing, bungee jumping, training for a marathon.

Analysis: I think of Type 2 fun as those things that in the moment might suck a lot, but after you get done you can look back at them and say you were proud to have accomplished whatever it was you did. Many people don’t understand this type of fun and don’t see the point in doing something that may cause you temporary pain or discomfort just to have done it. Most hiking falls into this category such as crawling through mud on the Inca Trail, running down a 14er to avoid lightning, or moving any more than 10 steps with a 50 pound pack on your back. Many activities that involve Type 2 fun are not ones that you want to do every day, but probably ones you would do again at some point after you recover. They are tough. They hurt. They sometimes leave you with bumps and bruises. But you wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. Type 2 fun is best enjoyed after the matter with a cold beer and ample jive sessions around a campfire.



Definition: an overall miserable time spent with absolutely no intent of repeating said experiences again

Examples: getting arrested for streaking, flipping a raft, climbing an 8000+ meter peak, getting in a fight, sleeping outside in a snowstorm, picking up bed bugs while traveling, running out of food or water while backpacking, breaking a leg/arm in the middle of nowhere.

Analysis: A key factor to having Type 3 fun is surviving. If you die while hiking Mount Everest, you probably won’t be able to look back on it all and say you had much fun, even the Type 3 kind. If you end up with your own segment speaking about your experience on the Lifetime series “I Survived”, chances are you had Type 3 fun. This type of fun sucks the entire time it is happening. It usually involves situations that are life threatening or may cause extreme bodily harm. This is the type of fun that makes you a stronger, wiser, and more experienced individual. This is also the type of fun that makes for the best stories: think Into Thin Air, 127 Hours, Castaway, and Rose from Titanic (sorry, Jack).



I believe all three types of fun are beneficial in their own ways. We need Type 1 fun to keep us going through the daily grind. We need Type 2 fun to challenge us and mold us into more empathetic human beings. And we need Type 3 fun to remind us of how precious this life is and how lucky we are to have any freedom to have fun in general.

Maybe you don’t need to come close to death to realize that life is full of enjoyment, entertainment, and amusement. Maybe you don’t need to leave the safety and security of Type 1 activities to have a good time. And maybe you don’t need to break off toenails running a marathon or bruise your entire lower body floating through a class III rapid or rip off chunks of skin on your hands by tireless pursuing a climbing route that’s way out of your ability range.

Or maybe you do…

Perhaps you are like me and that’s exactly what you need to do to realize you don’t have to be enjoying every second of this life to be having fun.

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