The Fun Habit

Mike Rucker

Nonfiction 2022 / 267 pages


What I liked about this book is the different perspectives and topics Rucker brings.  As a student of Happiness, Positive Psychology, and human behavior, I am familiar with many of the studies and researchers he quotes, but this is not a "self-help-how-to-be-happy" book.  He makes me think differently.

Happiness is a reaction, an attitude, a perspective, perhaps a choice, an emotion.  Fun is action.  This is an essential difference, I believe. Fun is not about how you perceive your circumstances, whether or not there is suffering, reframing your experiences, or making a mental/emotional shift.  It is taking action that offers you the opportunity to enjoy, to laugh, to giggle, to increase connection to self and others, to send in oxytocin.  You can have fun if you are happy, sad, grieving, angry, or lonely. If you are wondering if fun is a luxury or gratuitous, Dr. Rucker will also help you to see how important it is to our mental, emotional, and yes, even physical health.

I wish he had asked more powerful questions.  Instead of great questions to help generate new ways of having fun, he has you rely on your life to create a long list and short list of past, present, and future “fun” items.  He didn’t push me out of the box very much for creating new ways to have fun.  That being said, one cool list I created is things I used to do that were fun.  Among many others, are bowling and miniature golf.  (Anyone in Bend want to go bowling?)

He also makes a good case for not doing fun alone ... it is more fun to share, to laugh together, to inspire each other.  You CAN have fun alone, but inviting someone else along seriously raises the ante, and the laughter.

I liked his application of fun to parenting (okay, I only skimmed that chapter) and to work, and to nonprofit fundraising,  Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Pat Quinn and Pete Frates were two young men struggling with ALS (they both died in their 40s) and they challenged others to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads and make a donation to the ALS Association.  Their fun activity went viral; celebrities (e.g., George Bush, Oprah, Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio) as well as everyday people took videos of themselves dumping ice water on their heads.  This was fun with a cause.  The Ice Bucket Challenge raised $115 million for ALS Research.

I became intrigued by the book because when I rated my values on January 1, I noticed the lowest rating for a number of years has been on “play, humor, fun.”  The next day a link to this book appeared in LinkedIn and I had to take note!

I recommend this read, if it grabs your interest.  I know there can be a sense of opulence or maybe guilt about reading about and planning for fun.  But fun and seriousness are not mutually exclusive.  Fun and responsibility live side by side. They pose a classic case of the improvisation mantra “Yes, and ...”  I think you will learn something, as I did.  And perhaps make some new commitments to yourself, as I have.  It is a rather easy read.  Rucker’s style is flowing, friendly, and engaging.

March 2023