Having fun was not a high priority for most of my life – achieving things was far more important. Earning promotions and ascending corporate ladders, being admired for my achievements – these were priorities. Insofar as the arena of competitive sports, winning was a priority. I suppose the rewards of winning were the motivators for that. I always thought when triathlons were no longer fun I’d retire from the fray but now, when I think about it, I realize competing was never fun. It was very rewarding, but not fun.
Now I plan to keep at it until the rewards of competing fall short of efforts required to do so. The fun part comes when the race is done and I’m having a beer, trading war stories. The experience is similar to other exercise efforts – I enjoy the coffee after a long hard group ride more than the ride itself. The fun is in the after ride experience. However, I intend to focus on having more fun in the future, particularly while doing non-competitive activities.
In any case, I think I probably had more fun in my youth when I was doing stupid stuff.
My advice to both young and old is to strike a balance between fun and gaining extrinsic and intrinsic rewards.
Fun is easier to come by when over 75 or so, in my opinion. Life is less stressful, for one thing. If fortunate, you’re free of work – related issues and financial anxieties, and there are no children to manage. Children, in fact, are now more like treasured friends than charges for whom there is so much responsibility. Most older folks have grandchildren, some have great grandchildren – it’s often a joy to observe their development into young men and women during their college and early career years.
My wife and I have fun vacationing, no matter where we choose to go. We’re less dependent on external things; there is contentment in well being, enjoying the moments while they last.
I don’t think of triathlon as fun, but activities associated with the sport are lots of fun. There are pre-race anxieties, and then you swim so hard you feel like your lungs are going to burst, bike with such intensity your quads burn and finish the run exhausted. Where’s the fun in that? Triathlon is sheer agony, specially if doing the extreme version of such – an ironman.
The fun comes after the race, especially if there’s a beer truck on site. If you have a Puritan streak and think fun must be earned, well, this sport’s for you.
The award ceremony can be fun, too, particularly if you finish well or feel you did your best. At Ironman Hawaii, I’ve been called onstage nine times. I have nine Ironman watches to go with the trophies – just thinking about these times is fun.
In our office I explain to new employees that they are entering into a living sitcom. You can have fun just about anywhere, under most circumstances. Enjoy your time here and help others around you do the same. Everything depends on attitude and how seriously you take yourself.
Happiness dwells in the valleys with the shadows. RGI
Almost everyone wants to have fun, but what’s fun for some can seem boring, ridiculous or even blasphemous for others. Life without much fun does not seem very attractive. If an older person reports that he has little or no fun anymore and sees no likelihood that this will change, an intervention would be merciful. The experience of fun is mostly a mental phenomenon, whereas feeling healthy is seen as a physical matter. The absence of fun is much less likely to attract medical or other assistance than concerns about physical problems. So yes, I think having fun is one of the most obvious indicators of successful aging.
I’m having more fun as an older person than I did earlier in life, even though I almost always thought I was having a pretty good time of it. Problem was, I had many responsibilities, deadlines, tests and obligations – making time for out-and-out fun had to be squeezed in here and there, not indulged in for extended periods, day-in and day-out, as I do today.
One bit of advice for those not satisfied with their fun quotient: make changes, which usually require hard decisions, to bring your RDA (recommended daily allowance) for fun up to basic standards. Alas, there are no such standards for fun, so try to get what you can until you’re old and retired, when at last you can indulge yourself in non-stop fun, day after day.
Resist the elements of modern culture that enable fun at the expense of others. Spectator sports were brutal in ancient times and, alas, many remain so in our time. Consider what Ingersoll thought of blood sports in the latter half of the 19th century in the context of popular spectator sports of our own time, some carryovers from the past, some entirely new but all covered in the following section of the great orator’s address at an athletic club more than a century ago:
All exercise should be for the sake of development — that is to say, for the sake of health, and for the sake of the mind — all to the end that the person may become better, greater, more useful. The gymnast or the athlete should seek for health as the student should seek for truth; but when athletics degenerate into mere personal contests, they become dangerous, because the contestants lose sight of health, as in the excitement of debate the students prefer personal victory to the ascertainment of truth.
There is another thing to be avoided by all athletic clubs, and that is, anything that tends to brutalize, destroy or dull the finer feelings. Nothing is more disgusting, more disgraceful, than pugilism — nothing more demoralizing than an exhibition of strength united with ferocity, and where the very body developed by exercise is mutilated and disfigured.
Sports that can by no possibility give pleasure, except to the unfeeling, the hardened and the really brainless, should be avoided. No gentleman should countenance rabbit-coursing, fighting of dogs, the shooting of pigeons, simply as an exhibition of skill.
All these things are calculated to demoralize and brutalize not only the actors, but the lookers on. Such sports are savage, fit only to be participated in and enjoyed by the cannibals of Central Africa or the anthropoid apes.
Find what a man enjoys — what he laughs at — what he calls diversion — and you know what he is. Think of a man calling himself civilized, who is in raptures at a bullfight — who smiles when he sees the hounds pursue and catch and tear in pieces the timid hare, and who roars with laughter when he watches the pugilists pound each other’s faces, closing each other’s eyes, breaking jaws and smashing noses. Such men are beneath the animals they torture — on a level with the pugilists they applaud. Gentlemen should hold such sports in unspeakable contempt. No man finds pleasure in inflicting pain.
Robert Green Ingersoll, Manhattan Athletic Club Dinner (1890), New York, December 27, 1890
FIVE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT FUN
- At this stage in life, try to make each activity you do a fun event.
- It should be enjoyable, amusing, pleasurable and interesting.
- If you don’t think competing is fun unto itself, don’t do it.
- If number three, above applies, show up for the after-race party anyhow.
- Fun is contagious; loosen up and live a little.
That’s what you do for fun? I often hear this comment from my non-triathlete friends. It’s a question hard to answer. In the middle of a race when your lungs are bursting, your quads are crying and you still have 5 miles to go on the run, fun is not the word that comes to mind. But when the race is over and all the hours of hard work have paid off and a podium has been reached – that’s a lot of fun! That feeling of fun hasn’t diminished a bit as the years have gone by
For me, fun has meant overcoming a challenge, reaching a goal and enjoying the adrenaline rush of conquering fear. I could have segued into saner sports, like golf, as I’ve gotten older but I tell friends who try to get enlist my company on the links, It’s not fast and it’s not scary, so what is the point of that sport?
When triathlons are no longer a realistic option, there will still be challenges to overcome, goals to reach and fears to conquer. The adrenaline rush might not be quite so strong good but I expect to enjoy a fun-filled life until life comes to an end.
I’m still having ample fun participating in duathlons and triathlons. Of course, these events are only part of the fun. Four of us from Chico, CA, ages 61-81, usually try to qualify for world championship events around the world, if the venue cities promise to be in fun places. We always spend at least two-thirds of our time sight-seeing.
One of the reasons I continue to work is to afford these exciting and fun adventure trips.
Having fun, experiencing laughter and joy – how could anyone manage to age successfully without such daily pleasures? Humor is a salve for creaky joints, sore muscles, achy backs and all travails attendant upon the weight of years. Who could enjoy the rigors of triathlon training and competing over time, especially when over 40 or so, without a sense of humor and a propensity to have fun as a triathlete, or whatever other exercise one does to stay as well as possible, as long as possible? Play is fun, and triathlon – or walking, bocci ball, pickle ball or whatever, is play. As old Ollie (Oliver Wendell Holmes) expressed it, Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.
I’m confident Mr. Holmes intended the same to apply for women!
My personality, I must confess, is just too damn serious. I find it hard to even recognize when I’m having fun. When someone jokingly says, Are we having fun yet, I have to think about it. However, this is not to say I don’t have my share of fun, because I do. I just don’t go looking for it – but it finds me in surprising ways. I’ll offer an example.
During a recent bike ride, cruising along a state park unsullied by motorized traffic, surrounded by trees, grassland and vegetation, I heard the unmistakable call song of a meadowlark. It had an effect on me comparable to what some might experience hearing Ludwig van Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata or some other exquisite arrangement of notes and pauses.
I pulled over, sat on the grass for a few minutes and just listened. After enjoying what I decided to consider was an overture that this wondrous tiny creature played entirely for my enjoyment, I got back on the bike.
This was truly serious fun. I realize that being in solitude, and yet physically active and surrounded by nature, is fun at its best. Maybe I’m not too serious, after all.
Seniors should remain in contact with friends while taking steps to interact with new friends and develop relationships. Step outside your comfort zone – there are many exciting adventures still possible. Try a new activity, even if you are not good at it – doing so might provide quite enjoyable.
I’ve had lots of fun in this life. Fun takes different forms for different people. The act of competing is fun. Some activities are more fun than others. I’ve been an adrenaline junky all my life, doing thrilling endeavors – not just endurance competition. I can even have fun doing sedentary activities – like reading.
Recommendation: Have lots of interests for the inevitable time in life when your body starts failing you.
Traveling and racing use to be my most fun activities. But since I’ve become so slow, I don’t compete that much anymore. Now my idea of fun involves being pretty laid back. I enjoy morning runs through the tree-lined streets of my Boston neighborhood and along the waterfront in St. Petersburg. I also have fun during visits from my grandkids. These experiences are at the top of my fun list.
I like having fun! I try to see the fun side of many things that I do. I especially have fun dancing. If I’m ballroom dancing and I have a partner who likes to improvise and kick it up, I welcome the opportunity to follow suit. People often tell me that I really look like I’m having fun when I’m dancing. I’m part of a small tap group that performs. I love the performances whether it’s onstage in a theater before an audience or in a memory care unit of a nursing home – it’s all fun. I even find races fun (well, maybe not the swim part). During the bike segment, where I sometimes pass and get passed by the same person several times, I like to joke as we change places. During the run, I often ask a volunteer or a race photographer if my hair look OK. If they laugh, I get to do the same – at my own humor! On out and back runs I enjoy giving high fives or touching hands with runners going the other way. Not infrequently, these contacts elicit a few words of encouragement for me – more fun.
At award ceremonies, I do a cartwheel on the way to the podium. Maybe not as good a cartwheel as I once performed but – you guessed it – more fun.
Life is a journey, not really about getting to a final destination. To paraphrase Robert Louis Stevenson, To travel hopefully (or to have fun along the way, in my case) is better than to arrive.
Fun is vastly overrated and misunderstood. When someone tells me I should keep on doing triathlons as long as it’s fun, I offer a different opinion – I say, participating in this sport is not fun. Many find that surprising. I explain that doing tris is part of who I am. I’ve been doing about a dozen tris a year since 2005, but not for fun, just as I don’t go shopping or watch birds for fun. So many activities many pursue for fun seem anything but fun for me, including bungee jumping, museum hopping, mud or gator wrestling – not fun for me.
So, where then do I find fun? Well, comedy is fun – listening to it, reading it or acting it out. Irony, humor and varied forms of entertainment are fun. Triathlons are worthwhile and important, but they are all about effort, discipline and strategy. But, not fun, to my way of thinking.
Mel Brooks is fun – his 2000 Year-Old Man was really, really fun. My son and I have probably listened to those tapes a dozen times. We laugh together, pick out exchanges and work excerpts into conversations. Recently, I made a point about priorities and decision-making with the aide of an exchange between Mel and Carl Reiner. Mel is the 2000 year-old man breaking up with Joan of Arc, his long-time girlfriend. He said, Listen Sweetie, you go save France! I’ll go wash my hands. (Maybe you had to be there – humor is mysterious!) In any case, recalling that line sometimes fits nicely into a contemporary life situation. It always seems good fun to me.
ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?
I don’t seek fun. It serves no interest to me. Perhaps earlier in life it did, but the price paid often was painful since I’m uncomfortable in striving and with social gatherings. The effort to be part of the gaiety never turned out well. I’m not shy but I am an introvert, and quite introspective. I’m poor at telling jokes, seldom laugh, never watch situational TV and prefer to get lost in a crowd. I treasure my wife, Pam, my three children, bible study groups, a few close friends, learning and quiet time. I find fun a fleeting pause that yields nothing more than a momentary time-out from life. I don’t need that. A nap, or a spell with mindfulness serves a better purpose. I’m a product of my earlier life. Born to parents who were unable to raise me, I raised myself. All I needed from birth through high school was sustenance, which was provided by foster parents – a different family each year.
I wasn’t unhappy. I sought contentment by seeking to make something of myself through study and self-discipline. I don’t recall being bitter or angry. I had a life and struggled to make something worthwhile come of it.
How thankful I am to have had two rewarding careers, first as a physician with a notable practice and then, catching a second wind, as a triathlete. I wouldn’t call triathloning fun – the sport has been far bigger than that. Triathlon has afforded supreme contentment. I’m not impacted by accolades or naysayers. The views of others don’t matter much. But mine do. My enormous enjoyment of life is based upon how I relate to others, my character, working with the less fortunate and loving my neighbor. I’m at peace with who I am and who I try to be, forgiving myself for lesser failings and aiming to be all that I can be, not as a record holder but to honor this imperfect body of mine and the God who made it all possible
Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ― Lao Tzu