Active Fun vs. Passive Fun

Active and Passive are, by definition, opposites. Merriam Webster online defines Active as “…Characterized by action rather than by contemplation or speculation…quick in physical movement, lively…marked by vigorous activity…requiring vigorous action or exertion…” and Passive as “…existing or occurring without being active, open, or direct…lacking in energy or will, lethargic…tending not to take an active or dominant part…”

So how does this apply to fun? I think enjoyable activities can be divided into these two categoies. Active fun would be things you have to pur your own energy into to get any fun out of- any physical activity or project or anything that requires learning a skill- while passive fun would be something you observe or consume or simply take in. Passive fun can be enjoyable, certainly- like watching a good comedic movie, reading a favorite book or stopping while driving to look at a beautiful view- but I find in general, active fun sticks with me longer. If I put more energy and effort into an experience, I tend to get more out of it. Examples of this would be enjoying the view while on an arduous hike, or finally mastering a difficult passage in a piece of music I’m playing on the piano. Listening to a virtuoso pianist playing that same passage is enjoyable, certainly, but the “fun” of that doesn’t stay with me as long.

Of course, as with anything else in life, there should (ideally) be a balance between these two things. Finding that balance might be a challenge but the results would be well worth it, I imagine. This thougth seems closely related to the odd fact that sometimes things we don’t enjoy doing while we’re actually doing them can bring us a lot of enjoyment at a later point, but that’s another topic.


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