Photo Creds: Jason Richard

“It feels less fun the more serious you take it.”

Ali Abdaal

When I came across this phrase from Ali Abdaal I felt rather star-struck – because this is the life that I have been living.

There is a sweet spot of things being fun, as well as things being serious. On the one hand, things can be extremely fun, however, it would bear towards the brink of meaninglessness. For example, if one goes to parties every night. On another hand, you could take up a lot of life’s responsibilities by being hyper-efficient, but the downside is that living like a robotic machine is a rather depressing existence. Where one works only to die as it were. A sweet spot therefore would be to find enjoyment in what one does, in which stress is not a big factor.

Life can be crudely seen as an amalgamation of minigames. Every stage of education from primary, secondary and tertiary is its own game. The sports we play as extracurriculars is a minigame. Heck, even how many friends on Facebook or followers on Instagram is a game for some. The number of games is countless – so we must choose the games that we do play. Additionally, however, much like how a game becomes less fun when the opponent takes it competitively seriously, so much more that life becomes poisonous when it is taken seriously.

If this is the case, then why do people take things seriously? This may be due to the uncertain anxieties of life that plague us. If we don’t take life seriously, how are we going to be able to bring food to the table and survive? In a way, there is not much point to having fun in life if one won’t be able to sustain one’s self – so we take certain things seriously.

It is ironic that the larger the importance one takes on something, the less fun and enjoyable it becomes. When we take something too seriously, it automatically becomes a chore. Be it reading a book, learning in university, or even upkeeping friendships. I’d even imagine that competitive gamers have at times found the games that they are playing which are designed to be fun have felt like a chore. Anything that you do, even if you love it can be hated when done too much. The more one person takes things too seriously, the more lighthearted fun morphs into stress and anxiety.

Discipline and enjoyment is a false dichotomy. Generally, the more we enjoy something, the easier it is to discipline ourselves to do it. It is a lot easier to get better at something if you really love it. Certainly, it is a lot harder to get better at something you really hate.