At the beginning of this year I started taking improv classes. I was immediately delighted, my classmates became close pals, the supportive community embraced my efforts, and I continue to anticipate every class, every show, every laugh, and every bad joke. I love doing improv, yet I know that I'm not that good just yet. I don't say this to self deprecate or to seek internet compliments, I say it realistically, knowing that it takes time and practice to be good at anything worth doing.
Not every scene is hilarious and fun. It's mostly fun, but sometimes it's hard. Sometimes I don't know what I'm doing. Some days I'm tired. Sometimes I don't listen. Sometimes I just get in my head and think way too much about the concepts I've learned and haven't yet had time to process and integrate. Sometimes I forget to have fun.
I love improv because it challenges me. I love it because I still have so much to learn and practice. I love it because I'm not the best at it and I have lots of people to look up to. When I watch improvisers who have been practicing for years, I value how effortlessly funny they are, knowing how much effort they put into their art form in order to make it look so fun and easy.
As I grow up I continually seek new activities, projects, and relationships in which I thrive and continue to develop and evolve. If I'm truly patient, diligent, and willing to put in a significant amount of effort, eventually I become experienced and sometimes even an expert in new domains. That's always when the fun kicks in, and when I begin to thrive on the joy and energy I gain from being skillful and producing fruitful results.
If I'm being smart, I occasionally let go of some areas of focus in order to hone in on specific domains that produce the maximum amount of joy for the least amount of effort. This is known as what I call the efficiency of fun equation.
Once I've maximized my fun, something interesting often happens... once I get so very comfortable getting results without trying very hard, I get bored. My brain is wired to solve new, creative problems in order to continue developing. It needs new pattens, or else the old ones make me dull. If my mind doesn't encounter new challenges, it will start to make them up. Sometimes this happens in the form of obsession, ruminating, or even perfectionism. I sometimes catch myself creating fake problems to solve rather than seeking to adventures. I once heard an artist say, "If you don't keep creating, your mind will creatively sabotage you."
The tricky part is that, the older I get, the less willing I become to be bad at something. Starting from scratch is hard. Once the beginner's luck and the novelty wears off, I have to face the fact that it might take years of practice in a new activity before I experience that joyful state of steady flow. It would be easy to give up after the honeymoon phase and never really get good at anything, but just keep hopping around and constantly trying new things. However I know from past experience that the best kind of fun takes time and patience while I build up my skills.
So my recipe for a lifetime of fun goes something like this - make effort, have fun, find new challenges, repeat.