The great return of fun

Marie Kondo has made joy her business. Gretchen Rubin has devised a method to touch happiness on a daily basis. Then, in between, numerous books, podcasts and TED talks have explored the themes of creativity, laughter, languishing – the languor, star feeling of the pandemic –, small pleasures, flow… But what about the good old fun ? In the book The Power of Fun – How to Feel Alive Again, American author Catherine Price dives deep into this vital and unifying sensation.

Posted at 11:00 a.m.

Sylvie St Jacques
special cooperation

Sing in unison the words of We Are the World at a downtown karaoke club. Visiting a water park with the intention of hitting all the slides. Signing up for a Bollywood or ukulele dance class, with no other goal than to meet new souls and learn new skills. Admittedly, such activities may seem non-essential luxuries for extrovert survivors of the 1990s. But according to Catherine Price, the situation is serious: like the Beastie Boys who claim their right to party, we must urgently regain our human right to touch the pure pleasure of having fun, without taking ourselves for a walking public health danger.

This is at least what this author explains, who had the idea of ​​taking an interest in the notion of pleasure, when she realized that seriousness, productivity and the desire to succeed now monopolized all her days. ..


Catherine Price, philosopher of fun and mother of a little girl

” We are all gonna die. This means that many things that keep us up in the middle of the night don’t make sense. Our careers don’t matter, our successes and failures don’t matter, our financial worth doesn’t mean anything, and the number of our social media followers doesn’t matter at all. In short, a large part of what constitutes our obsessions and our sources of stress makes no sense”, slices this philosopher of fun, mother of a little girl, who offers to read a real survival guide for this era of artifice and attention deficit, where it has become socially acceptable to spend precious minutes of our lives exchanging insults with total strangers on Twitter.

“I’ve always had a big playful side, and the fun has always been important to me. Only, it’s something that I let slip, that I didn’t prioritize enough. At some point I noticed that the word fun was used all over the place, but was ultimately quite difficult to define. This is why I decided to make it a subject of a book”, relates the one whose previous work, How to Break Up With Your Phone, strongly encourages its readers to abandon screens (and social networks) in favor of truthful and authentic human contact.

Separate the good fun chaff

As a good scientific journalist anxious to dissect and substantiate her subject with rigor, Catherine Price leads her reader to grasp the distinction she establishes between the accomplishment of the “true” fun and leaks and distractions that provide more anxiety than states of human connection.

“The lack of a real definition – combined with the presumption that the fun not worth dwelling on – probably explains why so few researchers have focused on its physical or psychological effects”, writes the one who advances her own definition of “true fun “. For the purposes of her research, she recruited a group of 1500 participants (whom she calls her fun squad) from several different demographic groups and countries.

The central conclusion drawn from the numerous testimonies of experiences of pleasure recounted by these participants: the moments of “real” fun are the ones we remember.

Moreover, the fun is not something frivolous: it is an experience of great depth, even if its expressions rarely make the news, she writes.

” The truth fun is the convergence of play, connection and flow “, establishes the author, who adds that the absence of obligation, the non-performative or productive side of the task and the feeling of being propelled out of one’s daily reality are all ingredients to touch this bliss. A few examples cited by the members of its fun squad : a 49-year-old man who improvised a music group with his children, a 60-year-old woman who took part in a laughter workshop, a 75-year-old lady who took part in a drawing marathon, a “pajama party” mother- girl…

On the other hand, the attraction of the “false fun ” still hovers in our lives monopolized by screens, a reality amplified by the pandemic. For example, compulsively checking your phone, being sucked into Facebook for hours, or watching YouTube videos over and over are more stressful than flow, says Catherine Price. “Many of the leisure activities that pass through the screens fall into the category of “false fun” […] Ultimately, all this makes us more anxious and alone”, says the one who affirms that it is quite possible to be sensitive to the fate of the planet while cultivating the art of fun.

Everyone is looking for their fun

A few basic elements are necessary to aspire to a life where the fun claims his rights: having a roof over his head, enough to eat and not being in a precarious financial situation are part of it. However, an attitude of openness to perceive pleasure in every moment of life is a state accessible to all, argues Catherine Price. And for this mother of a 6-year-old, it is important to integrate the notion of play and the appreciation of the present moment.

Moreover, a large part of The Power of Fun is made up of quizzes, tips and tricks, lists that not only illustrate the ways in which the author finds her pleasure, but also aim to accompany her readers in their quests for a more playful life. In February, Catherine Price is also proposing a challenge entitled #Funtervention, which will offer activities and conferences with authors and researchers in the vast and promising field of fun.

Hello, the languishing. the fun regains its rights.

The Power of Fun – How to Feel Alive Again

The Power of Fun – How to Feel Alive Again

The Dial Press

352 pages

Shortage of fun to the hospital

Their role is not seen as essential. They work in the shadows, do not take themselves seriously at all, are modestly paid, but refine their costumes, their repartee and their panache. They know how to sing and make lemonade out of the lemons of life, devoting their lives to brightening up ordinarily dreary and gray places. The pandemic has hit the artists of the D Foundation hardr Clown and La Belle Visite, who had to reinvent themselves as virtual speakers.

It has been 20 years since the therapeutic artists of the Fondation Dr Clown work with the most vulnerable in society to break isolation, bring joy and are dedicated to infusing a dose of kindness and respect. Their capitals: children’s hospitals, specialized schools, general hospitals and CHSLDs.

the fun… through Zoom

Yes the fun is contagious, the tidal wave of the pandemic will have overcome the possibilities of contact and human warmth. A reality that Melissa Holland (aka Dre Fifi) described in a bittersweet tone, by Zoom. Since March 2020, only a few short spells in the pandemic have allowed clowns to return to CHSLDs, hospitals and specialized schools. Several artists from the foundation have had to put away their red noses, forced to find other jobs to earn a living. And the screen has become the best ally of these aces of creativity, confined again since December 21, waiting for the wave to pass…


The Dre Queen and the Dre Fifi, from the D Foundationr Clown, work in children’s hospitals, in particular.

“At the start of the pandemic, when we were forced to go virtual, caregivers at children’s hospitals didn’t have the time or resources to bring tablets to kids to meet us online. Our interventions were then limited to children from special schools, returned to their homes. For about twenty minutes a day, we offered a break to overwhelmed parents…”, recalls Dre Fifi, who says that with a lot of creativity, the Drs Clown were able to create new games, new ways of relating.

“The screen was a kind of puppet theatre, which allowed entrances and exits, like in the theatre. »

Essential service

Despite everything, therapeutic clowns do not lose faith in their mission to bring a dose of lightness, joy and simplicity, says Melissa Holland, speaking of the warm welcome they received when they returned to the classroom.


Melissa Holland is Dre Fifi.

“It overwhelmed me to see how much we were appreciated in the care settings where we operate. »

In the pediatric environment, where we had not been for a year and a half, the nursing staff came to meet us, with tears in their eyes, thanking us for being there.

Melissa Holland (alias Dre Fifi)

“Our presence meant in a way a return to normal, the permission to breathe, to play, to finally have a little more fun », dit EASYre Fifi who, for her part, has found a great source of respite and fun every time she wore her red nose during the pandemic.

“Even in darker, more depressive times, our red noses give us permission to step out of that reality and connect with the person in front of us. That’s the magic of the clown: it helps us get past the worries of everyday life. »

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