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The Fun Factor

written by: Michael Natt

 

Recently, former Los Angeles Laker’s basketball great Magic Johnson resigned from his position as President of Basketball Operations for the team. Whatever factors might have contributed to his decision, his tearful statement stands out, “I want to go back to having fun.” Apparently, whatever degree of satisfaction his position afforded him, there was a deficit in what I would call the fun factor.

If I had to plot my own fun factor on the continuum of responsibility on one end of the spectrum, and fun on the other, I would plot myself clearly on the side of responsibility. That is, throughout my life whenever I have had a choice to make between doing something that was responsible versus doing something that was fun, I have consistently made the responsible choice. Where some people need to learn how to be more responsible, I have needed to learn how to lighten up a bit and have more fun.
This commitment to living responsibly has served me well over the years and will continue to do so. It has kept me unwaveringly committed to the fidelity of my marriage vows. It has kept me on the course of working hard, saving, and managing my finances well. And it continues to guide my decisions to consistently choose to live a healthy lifestyle.

My faith has played a major role in my desire to live a responsible life. However, faith and fun are not mutually exclusive terms. Pastor John Piper in his 1986 book “Desiring God” used the term “Christian hedonism” to describe the concept that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” By Christian hedonism, we do not mean that our happiness is the highest good. We mean that pursuing the highest good will always result in our greatest happiness in the end.
So how does this apply to having fun? Answer: there is good fun and not so good fun. Let’s use the three examples in my life that I listed above: fidelity, finances, and fitness.

Marriage is meant to be fun, and so is sex. Some people explore sex outside of their marriage relationship because it apparently appears to be fun. I wouldn’t know, because I never want to go there. I couldn’t live with the guilt and hurt and mistrust that this would cause me and the people that I know and love, so I will forgo this type of not so good fun and confine this type of fun to my wife.

I have worked and saved diligently over the years. This enabled me to pay off my mortgage early, purchase all my cars with cash and save for the type of retirement that I currently enjoy. I have also had a lot of fun with my finances along the way and enjoyed vacations and luxury items. I just limit my spending to what I can afford. Buying things on credit is just not good fun for me. I have more fun living within my means and limiting my spending to what my budget allows.

Working out and eating healthy are also a lot of fun. I enjoy a good pizza and other less optimally healthy foods from time to time, but 90% of the time I choose foods that are nutritious and taste good as well. To me, it is more fun to have a body in optimal health than jeopardize my health by making unhealthy choices. I don’t live in legalism about this, because that is not fun either. I just enjoy a healthy lifestyle more than an unhealthy one.

So, how can I make my life even more fun? Recently, I made a few decisions to optimize my fun factor. For example, I suspended my master’s program in kinesiology because it wasn’t fun anymore. I have been a responsible student, but this is a season to lay off the academics for a while because rest and feeling refreshed is a lot more fun than being under the added stress and time crunch of completing assignments. I still enjoy learning in other ways because this too is fun.

Another thing I dropped was my goal to complete 70 half marathons by my 70th birthday. I have lived with race goals for over 20 years, and for the most part, it was a lot of fun. However, this time around, I decided to stop at 64, because I love to go 10 miles, but 13.1 was not fun anymore.

It is not that everything in life has to be fun. Some things are downright hard. The point is why do something that you don’t have to do that is no longer fun to do anymore. Magic Johnson served in his role with the Lakers for two years and played for them 13 years previously. That was enough for him. I am sure that the position of President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers would be a fun position for someone else now. Let Magic do what works for him now. And I will get home from my Saturday 10-mile walk, spend time with my wife and granddaughter, and enjoy the healthy quinoa that I bought in bulk to save money.

Michael Natt

Michael Natt

Michael is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). He also has NASM certifications in corrective exercise, sports performance and behavior change. He has senior fitness specialty and group fitness certifications through the National Exercise Trainers Association (NETA), and a fitness nutrition certification through the International Sports Science Association (ISSA). Michael earned a master’s degree in human resources development from the University of St. Thomas, and works with people to integrate their fitness goals with their life goals. Michael lives in Eden Prairie Minnesota.
Michael Natt

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