I am returning to my series on the positive emotions identified by Dr Barbara Fredrickson in her work on Positive Psychology. I have previously looked at awe, serenity and pride. Today I would like to consider amusement.
What do we mean by “amusement”? Fredrickson says it is the emotion we experience during play, humorous situations and ‘fun’. Amusement is probably one of the most powerful for building connections between people. For instance, have you made eye contact with a friend or stranger when something funny happens, feeling that flash of understanding that passes between you? Or burst into sudden laughter at the same time as someone else, with a knowing look?
Laughter can even have some surprising health benefits.
Amusement doesn’t just have to mean laugh-out-loud funny moments, though. It can mean something low-key – seeing a puppy play, dancing around your living room or a board game with friends.
Watching a funny TV show, playing with arts & crafts or listening to upbeat music are all amusing activities that lend themselves well to solitary or group occasions. What amuses you? When was the last time you had ‘fun’?
When people talk about “finding their inner child”, it can mean many things – such as rediscovering innocence, curiosity or being carefree. I think an important aspect is rediscovering a sense of fun, that might have been squashed by adult worries and responsibilities. A balance between seriousness and fun can lead to a richer experience, a sense of enjoying and engaging with life more.
Sometimes amusement lands in our laps, such as a funny video on social media. Other times we have to put the effort in to create a situation in which amusement can occur. How do you try to bring amusement into your life?