Saturday, July 6, 2013

How to be More Interesting...and MORE FUN (and less "UN-fun")

I pride myself on being able to talk to anyone, anywhere, at any time...matter of fact, when one of B's friends would have a new flavor of the month or girlfriend over at one of our social functions, I was the designated go-to gal to make that person feel welcomed and comfortable.  I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I can assure you, some of you are the dullest.  Yup, I said it.  I do not want to seem smug here, but dang people, let's up the ante and make you interesting!  You may think I am not interesting, but hell, I think I'm a colorful crayon and I'm not afraid to try and do new things.  Are you, or are you one of those dull crayons in which no one has any interest?!?

Here's some suggestions for making things more interesting around your alley...

1. Go exploring.
Explore ideas, places, and opinions. The inside of the echo chamber is where all the boring people hang out. Just having a conversation with a random person at a store you frequent or don't frequent much can be so enlightening.  I love hearing stories from some peeps at my favorite vintage store.  

2. Share what you discover.

And be generous when you do. Not everybody went exploring with you. Let them live vicariously through your adventures.  Whether it be some funky lamp, or a person who had on a fur coat over a parka, do share!

3. Do something. Anything.

Dance. Talk. Build. Network. Play. Help. Create. Brag. Lie (well...embellish). Storytell...hell, it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re doing it. Sitting around and complaining is not an acceptable form of ‘something,’ in case you were wondering.

4. Embrace your innate weirdness.

No one is normal. Everyone has quirks and insights unique to themselves. Don’t hide these things—they are what make you interesting.  And hey, maybe you can even blog about them?!?  I'd love to read it and then that qualifies for exploration into you...and well, fits into number 1!

5. Have a cause.

If you don’t give a damn about anything, no one will give a damn about you.

6. Minimize the swagger.
Egos get in the way of ideas. If your arrogance is more obvious than your expertise, you are someone other people avoid.  And to be honest...bragging about your cars and your stupid gold chains and "bling bling" make you seem desperate for approval.  
Please, you just look stupid.
for the love of geez, please just stop. 

7. Give it a shot.
Try it out. Play around with a new idea. Do something strange. If you never leave your comfort zone, you won’t grow.

8. Hop off the bandwagon.
If everyone else is doing it, you’re already late to the party. Do your own thing, and others will hop onto the spiffy wagon you built yourself. Besides, it’s more fun to drive than it is to get pulled around.

9. Grow a pair.

Bravery is needed to have contrary opinions and to take unexpected paths. If you’re not courageous, you’re going to be hanging around the water cooler, talking about the guy who actually is.

10. Ignore the scolds.
Bitches be hatin', yo!  Boring is safe, and you will be told to behave yourself.  Again, bitches ALWAYS be hatin'! The scolds could have, would have, should have. But they didn’t. And they resent you for your adventures.  Adventure on, my friend...adventure on.

Funny Confession Ecard: DAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN!!! No wonder bitches be hatin!

11) Think more. Open your mind. 
Not only is "interesting" displayed through actions, but through thoughts as well.

12) Make small, but decisive steps. 
Showing up in a pink costume on Wednesday when you wore a suit on Tuesday will make you seem silly and your transformation will not be taken seriously by your peers.

13) Be true to yourself. 
Push the limits of what you are capable of. But don't do something that will destroy your self-respect.

Now...onto how to be MORE FUN... because everyone loves the life of the party or social situations, yes?!?  I tell you what...I sure have more fun with my students when I'm being FUN myself!

Being fun is a trait people generally appreciate in others. If you can be more fun, they'll enjoy being around you more. It is something that has a time and a place though. If you're at a party, or in a joking mode, you generally want to be around fun people, and having fun yourself. If you're going on a quiet, contemplative walk with a friend, that same fun behavior from someone may not fit the situation as well.

Overall, I see being fun as just one social 'mode' of many people can be in. Sometimes it's the right one for the circumstances, sometimes not. This post covers the idea in more detail and I think there are two aspects to being more fun. There are the behaviors that actively make you more fun, and there are the traits to avoid that make you less fun.

Being more fun
When I was trying to think up all the traits I've noticed that seem to make people more fun, I realized they were all fairly vague and general. You'll see what I mean in a second. This vagueness means two things. First, as long as they're sticking to the very general principles, everyone can be fun in their own style. Your fun self can be a reflection of your normal self.

Second, the principles are relative. What I mean is, one person can apply a principle with a low level of intensity to be fun in a subdued way, which their friends may appreciate more than someone who's very over the top. Another person can apply the same principle in a more crazy, energetic way. Sometimes I get this mental image of a fun person being a loud guy standing on a table with a beer in each hand. But I think that's more a particular flavor of being fun, which you'd have to be in a certain mindset to appreciate. You can also be fun in a more low key manner, and in a style other than "Hyper, drunken party animal".

However, even though I just wrote about how everyone can be fun in their own way, this article is still using a certain meaning of 'fun', which involves having wacky, entertaining, funny times with people. If someone were to say, "My idea of having fun is to take an afternoon to quietly contemplate my garden", then this article isn't lining up with their use of the word. If it's not all that important to you to be more fun in the way the article is talking about, then it may not be something you want to read.

Be amusing and joke around
In one way or another, fun people are often funny. Sometimes it's because they're purposely being a comedian and trying to make their friends laugh. With other people it's more that they have a naturally amusing personality, and can't help but be entertaining as they go about their lives.

Introduce people to fun new activities and situations
Fun people also have a knack for bringing the people they're with into fun scenarios. Some of them just simply know good places to go and fun things to do. Others have this hard-to-pin-down ability to just get everyone they're involved with into crazy situations. Rather than make a normal response to a situation, they'll be a bit more spontaneous and unpredictable and get all their friends involved in something memorable.

Help people have more fun themselves than they normally do
A lot of us are used to going through life at a certain level of being reserved. We may have a better time if we came out of our shell somewhat, but we're used to the default setting. Fun people are good at convincing us to let loose a little more. Sometimes it's because their own enthusiasm is infectious. At other times they have a skill for applying some light, harmless peer pressure (to get you to do something you'll like anyways). The classic example is the person dragging their more reluctant friends onto the dance floor, where they start to have a good time once they get going.

Purposely try to have fun
Some people have fun naturally. Other people, on some level at least, are consciously trying to have a good time when they have fun. Instead of quietly hanging back, they're on the lookout for things that they think will increase the fun they're having. Fun people are pretty skilled at seeking out good times, or creating them out of nothing.

More fun people know how to amuse themselves. Hopefully the situation they find themselves in will be fun from the get-go, but if it's not then they'll stir something up. They'll end up chatting to some new people. They'll suggest something to do. They'll inspire other people to get into some wacky situation and see where it leads.

Get in touch with that goofy, immature side of yourself
Having fun often means being more silly and childish than normal. You have to shelve the more sober parts of yourself and temporarily regress to a goofier, more free side of your personality. It means laughing at dumb jokes and stupid antics, instead of being serious and judgmental about them. I think a lot of people use alcohol to help them get into this state, but you can get there without it.

Be a little more crazy and reckless than you would normally
Another part of being fun is being a bit more spontaneous and uninhibited relative to your normal self. That doesn't mean you have to start throwing furniture off someone's roof or become a stereotypical frat boy idiot or anything, just that in fun situations, being a bit more wacky or reckless relative to your usual self isn't seen as a big deal.

Or to use a cliche: Say "yes" to more things than you normally would. If a situation comes up where you have a chance to do something memorable and entertaining, throw your caution aside and go with it. One way leads to stories you'll laugh about afterward, the other means missed opportunities. If you really want to, you can come up with a reason why doing pretty much anything is a bad idea. Don't let that sensibility go too far.

Take things a little further than you normally would
This point is closely related to some of the ones above. This is hard to explain, but I've noticed fun people have a tendency to push things a little further than everyone else. If everyone is joking around, they'll start making slightly more outrageous or edgy jokes. If everyone is dancing, they'll start dancing in a goofier or showier way and get everyone else to join in. Not always, but sometimes this pushing involves taking things in a slightly more risque direction.

There's often fun to be had in pushing things slightly, but some people are hesitant to go there. The fun person helps everyone get into that territory. It takes skill and experience to know just how far to take things though. If you go too far, you can come off as insensitive, or make people uncomfortable.

Have tricks and talents that make you more fun
This is a more minor point. Fun people often have all these little skills they can pull off that make other people have a good time, if only to get one cheap laugh out of them. They may know a bunch of jokes or stories, or be able to pull out some funny dances, impressions, or corny magic tricks. Sometimes people see these party tricks as cheesy and trying too hard, but they can get a good reaction too. Fun people are also usually pretty good at 'stock' having fun skills like dancing and playing pub or drinking games.

Being less "un-fun"
The traits that make you less fun are more concrete and straightforward than the abstract principles in the previous section. Avoiding these un-fun traits is just as important to being fun as the ideas above, maybe more so.

I'll mention again that this post is based around how to have more of a particular definition of fun. Some of the things below aren't inherently negative traits in all situations. Some readers may see some points and think, "Hey! That's just how my personality leads me to act! Why am I being told that the way I am has something wrong about it?!?" My response would be that from the worldview of how to have fun the article is talking about, certain traits may be seen as 'bad'. That's only through that one lens though. Through a different perspective a behavior that's positive in the 'having fun' sense may be a liability. If you decide you don't care about whether you're fun or not in a certain way, then carry on acting how you'd like.

Don't be the person who never wants to do anything
If you're ready to have a good time, it's pretty irksome to be around someone who isn't up for any of the activities that you think will lead to you having fun. By this I mean shooting down overall suggestions for activities, and also the little chances to do something amusing that come up when you're out.

There are two parts to this point. First, don't be the person who never wants to do anything new. Second, don't be the person who never wants to do anything *period*, and who always wants to stay in. When other people are rearing to do something, not being on board drags them down. Be reasonably open to new suggestions and don't expect your friends to always want to do more humdrum things with you. You could also say a third variation on this to not be the person who wants to quit everything halfway through.

Wherever you are, don't just hang back and do nothing
If there's one thing that identifies less fun people, it's that they never seem to be doing much. If you were to go to, say, a staff party, the more fun people would be making the rounds talking to their co-workers, joking around, maybe dancing, and generally having a good time. On the other hand, other people could be found sitting at a table staring off into space, watching the dance floor but never joining in, or being physically in a group or conversation but not engaged with it.

There are other reasonable ways you could describe such people. Maybe they're only at this staff party because they feel they have to be, and could care less about having a crazy time. Maybe they're shy in these situations, or that's just their personality, or they don't know anyone, or they don't know what to talk about, or they don't know how to dance, or they're distracted by other concerns.

These things could all be true, but if you're looking at them from the perspective of wanting to have a good time, you can't help but think of them as not being as fun. That's not necessarily a negative judgment, just that they're not really in the mix. You can go a long way towards being more fun if you just make an effort to participate when you're out doing things with people.

There are several reasons why you might not be participating more already. Again, you may not have the skills or knowledge to take part. If everyone is talking and you're not good at conversation then joining in is easier said than done. If everyone wants to dance but you feel like you're hopeless at it, then you're resigning yourself to watching on the sidelines. What if everyone is talking about something you're not knowledgeable about? You also may not have the desire to join in. You may not like what everyone else is doing. You may also not totally click with the people you're with and not be particularly motivated to jump into the action.

You can see here that you may have a longer road ahead of you than you thought. If you have to change your attitude or pick up some new skills, that isn't something you can do overnight.
Don't be too picky about what you require to be entertained
A person hanging back at the bar while their friends are off elsewhere could just be shy or not know what to say to people, but they could also be thinking something like this:
  • "I'd dance but music isn't very good."
  • "I'd drink but it's too expensive."
  • "I'd talk to people but they all look stuck-up."
  • "I'd talk to people but it's too loud in here."
  • "I'd talk to my friends but they're all being annoying right now."
  • "I'd have a good time but this bar sucks."
  • "I'm bored."
  • "This place is boring."
  • "The people I'm with are boring."
While the less fun people are making a tally of what's wrong with the place, their more fun friends are out there dancing, meeting people, talking, and having a good time, despite the supposedly less-than-ideal conditions. Make the best of whatever situation you're in. Focus on the positives instead of the negatives. Don't feel you can only have fun under the perfect circumstances?

Don't sit back and wait for the amusement to come to you
This is related to the above point. Another big trait of less fun people is that they're not good at creating a good time for themselves. They depend on the situation or other people to provide them with entertainment. If they go to a party they won't take the initiative to try to meet some new people or get involved in a fun situation. Instead they'll hang back and wait for people to come talk to them or rely on their friends to keep them interested. If the friends get distracted by something else and no one stimulating chats to them, then the less fun person will become resentful and not have a good time.

They may also be bored somewhere and have all these 'if's running through their mind. "If the DJ starts playing better music I'll have fun. If I was at (some other bar) I'd be having fun. If my friends start acting a certain way I'll have fun. Until those things happen I'll remain bored." It's a passive attitude, where you think you can only have fun if things largely out of your control flow towards you.

Don't be a downer
When people are having fun, they're sensitive to anything that may bring down their mood. Being around someone who's a buzz kill like this isn't pleasant to them. One way to be a downer is to complain too much: "This place sucks", "This place is dead", "I'm bored., "Let's go somewhere else", etc, etc.

A second way to bring people down is to keep bringing up inappropriately depressing and heavy topics for the circumstances. If you're out on a Friday night and it's obvious your friends want to take it easy and blow off steam, that isn't the time to go on about how you hate your parents, or how all your ex-girlfriends toyed with your emotions.

Don't be overly serious
Being too uptight can generally contribute to people being less fun. Recognize any of these?
"These people are so shallow. Why don't more people want to have deep, intellectual conversations?"
"Drunk people are so annoying"
"Ugh, everyone's being so loud and obnoxious?"
"Why are those people dancing like that? It's so embarrassing"
"I can't believe my friends are doing that, what a bunch of idiots"
"I'm too mature to do that"
"Eww, this place is so hot, and loud, and smelly"
"Do these people really think this is amusing?"
And on and on. As I wrote earlier, having fun often involves letting loose and acting less proper and controlled than you normally do. Lighten up a little. You can't bring rigid, serious, humorless sensibilities to fun situations.

Don't see having fun as immature or beneath you
Some less fun people can be that way because they see the very idea of having a good time as base and puerile. They may see it as something only shallow, vacuous people do, and believe more intelligent, mature types don't stoop to that level. Like I've been saying, being able to joke around and have a good time is just a different way of acting. It doesn't detract from your more intelligent or serious traits.

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