The 4 Types of Fun

Having spent the last many years doing outside activities, I have very often come across this thing called type 2 fun. Type 2 fun describes activities that are not the most enjoyable while they are happening but after the fact you realized that you loved it. When I first heard of type 2 fun I obviously wondered what type 1 was, and if there were other types. Well over the years I have developed my own system of the types of fun. I did some research before writing this, and I am not the first person to add a couple more types of fun to the list, but I think my definitions are a bit different.

Type 1:

Fun while you are doing it, fun afterwards. This is just good family fun. Playing with puppies, music concerts, Powder skiing!, hanging out around a bonfire, spending time with loved ones, and countless other things that make you happy.

We all need type 1 fun in our lives, however I have found that too much type 1 fun can often become boring. Type 1 fun keeps you in your comfort zone. Many of the things in life that are the most rewarding are not always fun.

now that's fun!

Pure fun!

Type 2:

Not fun while you are doing it, fun afterwards. Okay, it may not be, totally unfun while you are doing it, but it is certainly very difficult and often you want to stop, but for some unknown reason you keep going. Most physical activity is some level of type 2.

Take running. For me, I start a run and pretty much think about how much longer I have until it is over. There is this weird point 2 hours in where I stop thinking about anything, but mostly, I just want to be done. No matter how much running hurts during, and how much effort it takes to keep going, I never regret going and always feel great afterwards (unless my knees hurt).

Type 2 fun is my favorite type of fun. Things that are type 2 fun are the most rewarding. Skinning is one of my favorite things to do in the whole world (I sure hope so). However, while I am skinning I am often hurting. Maybe I am racing and pushing myself to my limit, gasping for 9,000ft air. Or maybe I am fried from a week of 50,000ft and then waking up at 5 am to go ski some stupid objective that is 4 miles and 4,000ft away. The skin track is a rock solid side hill for those 4 miles –  believe me, i do not like skinning for the first hour of that day. But when I come home that night and I’ve ski 4 runs of Boxelder and 11,000ft, I love skinning and am so happy to be alive!

Pushing through difficult things is how we make our lives better. Weather that is an early morning tour or endless hours of applying to a new job. It is getting past the difficult things that make life worth living.


Type 4: (gonna jump out of order here, bare with me)

Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it is worth it. Some things are not fun while they are happening and not fun afterwards. Type 4 things are often unavoidable realities. Doing your taxes. painting a house (that is not your own), and getting your car inspected. Most things that are type 4 fun are, well not fun, but also they are not going to kill you. The more complicated life gets, the more time you spend doing type 4 fun. Most things that are involve bureaucracies are type 4 fun. I spend a good amount of energy ensuring that my life remains simple and I keep my type 4 fun to a minimum. If my work ever becomes a type 4 fun, that is my life being wasted.


Don’t waste time on type 4 fun. Do it and be done.

Type 3:

Fun while it is happening and not fun afterwards. The best example is a hangover. Getting wasted at a party can be fun, but the hangover and realization that you sent a few regretful texts makes the night out type 3 fun. Type 3 fun is great, but must be taken in moderation. Too much type 3 fun and life starts to become unfun. Most things that are type 3 fun are addicting. I know when I binge watch 5 season of parks and recreation I may not completely regret it, but I am pretty sure I could have done something better with my time, and have a slightly bad taste left in my mouth.

College may have a bit too much type 3 fun.

College may have a bit too much type 3 fun.

I use the types of fun scale as a bit of a guide to life. I enjoy type 1 fun, but don’t necessarily seek it out, as too much can be boring. Type 2 fun is the most enriching. I try to engage in as many activities as I can handle that are difficult and rewarding. Type 3 fun can be great, but I am always wary and make sure I am not getting sucked in to the type 3 spiral. I try to limit type 4 fun activities as much as possible, but when I have to do them, I try to just get them out of the way as quick and painlessly as possible (easier said than done).  

Bonus type 5 fun is watching a sunrise or sunset.


The Compromises we Make

I once had a professor give me some advice for life. He posed it as a thought experiment. He said,

“There are three things in life, work – what you do to occupy your time, paid or unpaid, place – where you physically are, and relationships – your interactions with other people, romantic of otherwise. Of these three things you can only expect to have control over two at a time. If you have control of all three expect something to go haywire, if you have control of one, pick another and go for it, and if you feel you have control over none of them get up off the couch and start walking.”

The thought experiment was as follows,

“If you had to pick just two of these to have control over, which would they be?”

The answer to this is always changing throughout life. When I was in a committed relationship I choose that first, and then let what I was doing during my free time be out of my control. Generally, when winter comes. I choose place over everything else so that I can do what I love and ski as much as possible. This requires large compromises on the work I do and the relationships I have. I see my family in the fall before the season starts and then not again until the spring, and I work waiting tables.

2015-02-06 07.29.06Talk about place.

For everyone the balance of place, work and relationships is different and changing. I have found it a great tool for making and analyzing tough life decisions. By seeing decisions through this lens, you don’t regret the compromises you make, but can rather recognize that you can only expect to control so much of your life, and the rest will figure itself out.

This summer I have been making a ton of compromises. I absolutely love my life, and wouldn’t change a thing, but getting to that point takes compromising and relinquishing control over the third piece.

To begin, I live in a basement. An unfinished one. With 4 loud pumps (not sure what a house needs 4 different pumps for). And a ceiling that is 5′ 10″ (I am 5’10.5″). And I am too cheap/lazy to buy/find a bed, so I am sleeping on a sleeping pad. And the sleeping pad has a pinhole leak in it, so if I don’t fall asleep in an hour I start feeling the ground and have to blow it back up (if I fall asleep I am fine until the next morning).

2015-07-20 11.56.32Home sweet home

This may sound like hell to many people, and I’m not saying it is my paradise, but I really don’t mind. The pumps just force me to be a sound sleeper. I don’t spend much time down there, so the ceilings are whatever. Inflating the bed nightly is just training for my lungs. And on the plus side the basement is a constant beautiful 65 degrees and makes for great sleeping when it is 85 and humid upstairs.

For work I am perusing Craigslist daily looking for odd jobs and landscaping gigs. The pay is pretty good actually, but it is certainly not steady work. It ends up this has worked out great and I have been able to spend a large amount of my time preparing for the winter logistically and training physically. I certainly let go of most of the control I had in the work I was doing though.

But really, I am happy to make these compromises because I am looking towards the future. I am scrimping and saving for the winter. I am living with friends in one of the most beautiful parts of Vermont. I have amazing access to mountain biking, so I can train. I have a veggie garden for the first time in years. Like a bear going into torpor I’m loading up on place and relationships for the coming winter. When December 1st hits I will be 100% committed to work. Granted I love the work I will be doing, I will not have the balance. I will be in places I love, but I will also be travelling a lot. And relationships, well my touring partners will be the extent of that.

Getting ready to drop [Photo: Louis Arevalo]

Life is about finding that balance that works for you. That balance can be a current one or an evolving one. For many people the balance needs to be in constant equilibrium, for others they can front load the balance and correct later. I find the balance is much easier to keep when you relinquish control over one element and let it just fall into place. When I try to control all aspects of my life, my stress levels start to rise and all the aspects start weakening.