“But it’s not supposed to be fun,” my Uncle John said to me. We were chatting about a bit of health and fitness at my brother’s wedding this weekend. (Congrats, Will and Jackie!)
I had shared the idea that we’re the most successful when we consider what we’re doing “fun.” I realized that while diet and exercise is considered many things, fun is rarely one of them. I’m interested in changing that.
A recent trend has caught my attention, and it’s of world-class athletes talking about how much fun they’re having while practicing and performing in their sports. Success leaves clues, so let’s follow these gluten-free breadcrumbs, shall we?
Katie and I arrived in NYC in time for the women’s vault finals, which 19-year old American gymnast Simone Biles won. The competition included 41-year-old gymnast Oksana Chusovitna. In modern times, being 41 is middle age. In gymnastics, 41 is ancient. During the commentary for the event, Chusovitna was quoted as saying that she’s still competitive because gymnastics is still fun for her. Even during moments like this:
Chusovitna has been competing in the Olympics for 5 years longer than Simone Biles has been alive. And still, she does it because it’s fun for her.
In a special covering the back-to-back men’s all-around champ, Kōhei Uchimura, he noted that he enjoys teaching children gymnastics because it reminds him of how much fun the sport can be. This comes from a man who admittedly struggled when he began, and now many consider this man to be the greatest gymnast of all time.
In this video about La Dura, considered to be the hardest rock climbing route in the world, Chris Sharma, who many consider to be the best rock climber in the world, notes that climbing is still about having fun and exploring for him.
Can you see a trend here?
At the most elite levels, the top performers are still having fun. Let’s learn from them.
Having fun isn’t about gluttonous hedonism. Fun isn’t about seeking pleasure. Fun is about seeking an appropriate challenge for your current ability levels. Fun is about moving forward, in both success and failure. Fun is about a choice.
When it comes to diet and exercise, more often than not we are let down by our own optimism. We bite off more than we can chew. We seek rapid results, but fail to lay a foundation of solid habits. We lack appreciation for the slow-and-steady tortoise compared to the hare.
Allowing yourself to have fun comes down to the decisions that we make. Can we make decisions with lower odds? Can we make decisions with less significance? Can we give ourselves space to enjoy ourselves, with fewer risks? It’s in that space that we have more opportunity to have fun. Those opportunities are where we develop ourselves, to the point of greatness if you so choose.
Fun is about balancing hard work and success. It’s about finding the things that resonate with you a deeper level, things that make hard work worth it. It’s not the search for fun that we’re on, but the search for what is worth it.
What resonates with you?