“That doesn’t sound like fun”
I’ve heard this a few times. I believe the premise is wrong. We often talk about life in terms like “fun” or “happy”. What if there is something better than fun?
Biking for hours is sometimes fun, it is definately amazing to see all of the beautiful creation; from beautiful blue skies painted with stokes of white clouds; green trees each unique (which can also provide you cool shade from the hot sun during your ride); lakes with the morning mist rising, begging you to try and capture them with a photo from your phone; geese, deer, and other wildlife bounding into view as you pass by. Yes that is fun.
It is fun to detach from work, from timelines, from commitments and just lose yourself in your thoughts.
It is fun to ride up beside someone and discover they are from another state or continent and learn about the place they live and hear their story.
But I still understand why people ask the question. When you have been hours into a ride and your bottom is sore, your quads seem spent and you wish the water in your bottle was cold it would be difficult to call that fun. But maybe there is something greater than fun.
Fun (and happy) come and go based on our circumstances. But joy comes from a state of mind. If fun is fleeting, joy comes with time and can even require pain to be achieved. Very few Olympic athletes consider their training fun, but achieving their goals, representing their country, competing for the podium – that is their joy.
Sometimes I have fun on the bike, but even when I don’t there is joy at the end of the ride. In the knowledge that I have finished something hard. That I have pushed my body beyond where it was before. That I am a 52 year old man who is chiseling away the fat from my muscles and getting stronger. That tomorrow I will finish a week of biking across the state of Georgia. These things bring me joy.
I would suggest that even when life brings us hardship, emotional pain, and even deep sadness that joy is possible. Not happiness (or fun), because only a fool would claim they are happy during times of great emotional loss, but joy? Yes that is possible, and the more we move from defining successful life experiences based on fun alone and look for joy the more we will find joy even in the difficult time.