Summary: What do you do for simple, quick fun? Do you mind sharing with others?
Purpose: “Have fun” and “be happy” are common goals people have. If you can’t turn a few bucks and a few hours into a good time, you have a glaring gap in your abilities and I believe this is a problem.
Materials: Nothing, though you’ll likely want to bring something as a participant.
Announcement Text: What would you do if you wanted to be happier?
That’s the question we’ll be exploring in this meetup. It’s not meant as a deep or abstract question. What do you do that makes you happy, and you think might make others happy too? Bring something that makes you smile or laugh in a form you’re willing to share with others. A stress toy you like to mold, paper that's good for folding or drawing on, a song that makes you want to dance, all of these are good ideas but none of them are exhaustive. This meetup is going to be a little like show and tell, where hopefully you’ll walk away having had a good time and with ideas for how to have more fun in the future.
Suggested reading: Ureshiku Naratai, Joy in the Merely Real.
Description: This is a fairly unstructured event. Bring your own fun thing. The most useful thing to bring is infectious enthusiasm; if you don’t have that, try and find a co-organizer who does. Small children may be efficacious.
Open by asking someone close by what made them happy today. Follow up, try and get into the details of the experience. Ask what they brought to have fun with to the meetup, and if they offer something then try it out. If it’s fun for you too, say so! Try to move around the room doing this with other people.
Variations: If outdoor venues are available, I believe being outdoors in the sunlight often helps. Having space to laugh freely and loudly is also good.
You can try bringing the whole meetup to do one fun thing together if you want. This can work well if everyone has a similar idea of fun, and won’t work for people who don’t like that thing. Going to the beach, flying kites, and Magic: The Gathering drafts all sound like a good time to me, and I’m pretty sure I could find a half-dozen friends who would enjoy those things too if I invited them. Whether this will work for an open meetup is a question only you as a local organizer can answer. Remember that people can self-select pretty well if you make it clear what you’re doing; most people who hate Magic: The Gathering won’t go to your draft night.
Notes: I’m not saying having a good time is rationalist praxis. I am saying that one of the many things you might optimize your life for at least a little bit is having a good time. If the idea of a rationality meetup to optimize your paycheck sounds reasonable, I think a meetup to optimize your hedons is also pretty reasonable.
My secret sauce to having an uncomplicated good time is to ask myself what I would have wanted to do when I was five years old. This is a pretty good intuition pump! Five year old me wanted to swim, have books read to him, and eat some ice cream, and you know what? Audiobooks exist, ice cream cones are cheap, and the beach isn’t a bad use of a Saturday afternoon.
There does exist a life failure mode one can fall into when you only do things that are fun in the short term, ignoring responsibilities and burning resources at an unsustainable rate. Politely, this is not the failure mode I see the rationalists around me falling into. I more often see rationalists having to stop and think for a while when I ask when the last time they had fun.
Credits: This is derived from Ureshiku Naratai by Alicorn and the more immediately practical aspects of the Fun Theory sequence but also Joy in the Merely Real by Yudkowsky.