Is Fun The New Benchmark For Success

in Art of Listening
Lively Play


“Did you have fun?” my son, Aidan, was asked by his head coach after his first Atom AAA hockey tournament came to an end in Detroit, Michigan.

I have to admit, when I heard this question I was somewhat taken back. During Aidan’s very young years in house league hockey there was a strong emphasis on the kids having fun. But now he was in AAA hockey. Should “having fun” continue to be the benchmark of whether something was good and worthy of our time and energy?

I wonder…

But before we go any further with this topic, let’s take a look at how the Webster’s Dictionary defines fun.

Fun: lively play or playfulness; enjoyment or pleasure; intended for pleasure and amusement.


According to Webster’s definition of fun, and, depending on your perspective, one might argue that most things in life could be fun.

And yet, the sense I get from our culture today is that fun is associated with only “pleasurable and amusing experiences.”

If at work on Monday morning, when you ask a friend or colleague if they had a good weekend, what the other person hears you saying is, “Was your weekend enjoyable or pleasurable?” Now, if they had to work most of the weekend, they will probably say, “No!”

However, if they went to the cottage, went skiing, went to a big party, or had a romantic getaway, they will probably say, “Yes, it was a great weekend. I had a lot of fun!”

And then somehow this type of “fun” becomes the benchmark for whether an experience or pursuit is truly worthwhile. However, if left unchecked, this frame-of-mind can quickly create a culture of…

  • living for the weekend
  • sex for pleasure (not an erotic expression of love and commitment)
  • living for the moment (very different than living in the moment)
  • consumerism
  • overeating
  • over drinking
  • drug abuse of any kind
  • losing perspective on what truly matters
  • loss of meaning

My intention for writing this post is to simply stimulate our thought and conversation around the concept of fun, not to judge or condemn. Today fun seems to be the benchmark for almost everything: from work to sports to relationships to vocations.

But again, I wonder…

If something is fun, can it also be hard and challenging as well as effortless and invigorating ? Can it be both an adventure and a routine task? Can fun be hanging out with your friends and working 10 hours straight? Can fun pursuits be interconnected with perseverance, struggle and disappointment?

If so, then I think we’re on to something very good.

If not however, our society and world could be in trouble!

Today’s Unitas Project:  

  • From her book, Glimpses of Grace, Madeleine L’Engle encourages her readers to consider what play is, and how it fosters ecstasy:

The concentration of a small child at play is analogous to the concentration of the artist of any discipline. In real play, which is real concentration, the child is not only outside time, he is outside himself. He has thrown himself completely into whatever it is that he is doing. A child playing a game, building a sand castle, painting a picture, is completely in what he is doing. His self-consciousness is gone, his consciousness is wholly focused outside himself.

If fun is about being fully in the moment, “throwing yourself completely into whatever it is that you’re doing,” fun and play become a matter of perspective and living within your Element.

  • Can being married for 20-40 years be fun?
  • Can hard physical or mental work be fun?
  • Can playing hockey or soccer be fun?
  • Can being a parent be fun?
  • Can doing the dishes be fun?
  • Can school work be fun?
  • Can tackling the world’s issues on the environment, poverty, consumerism, debt, family breakdown and obesity be fun?

Absolutely Yes!

Until next time…
Be You. Be Unitas.

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