Thought Leadership

Having fun

By Colin Walls

I often ponder on the nature of being happy and having fun. Happiness is elusive, but we all have an idea of what it is about. I will talk about that another day, as I think there are some interesting angles.

But there is the question of having fun. I have more trouble identifying that …

An old joke: A good friend is someone who bails you out of jail after a particularly good night out; a best friend would be sitting next to you saying “Wow! That was fun.”

Notice the tense of the verb. The fun was in the past. Is that always the case? No – I think that fun can also be in the future. What I think is rare is for fun to be in the present. How often can you respond positively to the self-question “Am I having fun right now?”? Maybe it is just because when you are doing something that might be described as fun, you are too wrapped up in doing it to think about how you feel about it. Perhaps you need to compare with life’s experiences in order to rate something as fun.

I can recall a single exception to this rule in my life. Some years ago, I was fortunate enough to participate in a business meeting in the far North of Finland – above the Arctic Circle. I had the opportunity to try one of a number of outside activities and I chose [for no reason that I can now identify] to try a dog sled. There was only a small group of us and, after some brief training, we were sent off with sleds and packs of husky dogs. It was like nothing I have ever done before or since. At one point, I was some distance from my colleagues and the leader – essentially alone [with my dogs]. It was getting dark and all I could hear was the panting of the dogs and “swish” of the sled through the snow. I recall having the thought: “Yes. This is me having fun.”

As a postscript, later that day we all had the chance to ride on a cart pulled by a reindeer, which seemed reluctant to haul the weight. That evening, we were served reindeer meat as part of the meal. I joked to the senior executive, who was sitting opposite me, that this was the same beast that had failed to deliver earlier in the day. Many months later, there was a big sales meeting, where this executive was talking about his experiences through the year. He showed a picture of a reindeer and made the same joke. I still await the royalty check.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at