Note: I was hesitant to publish this post, especially the day after I announced my new website. I didn’t think I would get the right message across. I also worried that this wouldn’t be “practical enough” to merit reading all the way through. But I pulled the trigger, blasting this message out into cyberspace in hopes that you’ll find something of value in here. Now that I’ve thought about it, this is probably one of the most important messages I’ll ever write. If you get half as much truth out of this article as I got from writing it, then it’ll be well-worth the read. I think this is a perfect piece to follow-up yesterday’s launch. (Read time with video: < 10 minutes)
The Fun Theory (thefuntheory.com) is an initiative of Volkswagen that is “dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s changed for the better.”
Perhaps you’ve already seen some of the interesting videos circulating the internet. Here is my personal favorite – a Fun Theory solution to change physical activity levels:
The result of making a flight of stairs into a digital piano: 66% more people chose the piano stairs than the escalator.
I think they’re onto something over at VW. There’s definitely a timeless principle that the fun theory is based on, but unless The Fun Theory evolves, it won’t change the world as much as their videos seem to make you feel it will.
They claim that “fun can obviously change behavior for the better.” And I absolutely agree with that. But there is a subtle hole in their reasoning, and it’s a very important principle for those concerned about their physical lifestyle to understand.
While I am completely supportive of finding ways to have more fun and also to help people get stronger, healthier, and ultimately happier, I think The Fun Theory Approach is destined to fail, or at least remain ineffectual long-term – unless it changes.
You see, this is a very common reaction to what a group of people perceive as a problem. Volkswagen, which happens to be a very large corporation (go figure), feels it’s necessary to step into the daily lives of common people because they need _________. More physical activity, more recycling, whatever – anything that they think is good “for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s changed for the better.”
The problem is that Volkswagen is coming up with a solution that will automatically change behavior, instead of a solution that will encourage people to choose new, better behavior just because it’s better. They are taking the responsibility for a better world upon themselves, instead of giving the responsibility back to the people. It’s reminiscent of a doctor writing a prescription that will “cure” the problem instead of recommending lifestyle changes that would prevent health problems in the first place. Or, of a government taking responsibility for issues that can and should be handled by the people.
Yes, it’s a good thing that they are doing, and yes, they will change behavior for the better as their video experiments prove (of course, this is VW’s definition of what is “better,” which could be a whole other discussion). BUT – personal responsibility is NOT something you can control for someone else. You can only present the illusion of control. Sure, the piano stairs produced a better result in physical activity, so much so that 66% of people chose it over the stairs compared to without the piano. So, it’s a good thing, but only in spirit, not in truth.
Did they really affect people’s lives for the better? I don’t think so.
What VW is essentially saying is that the world has a physical activity problem, and they are going to create a fun solution to solve the problem. But realistically, nobody has the resources or the willingness to install piano stairs on every public staircase. And even if resources were available, human nature will go back to normal after the excitement wears off.
I mean, sure, walking up and down a flight of stairs that plays notes would be fun… for a little while. Maybe a few trips up and down. But after that, if I were the type who took the escalator, I would go right back to my original behavior after the novelty wore off.
And THAT’S the very problem. As evidenced in their videos, the Fun Theory Solutions are based on novelty – and novelty doesn’t last.
Take the novelty of The Fun Theory to an extreme, and what do we get? A world where personal responsibility is dwindling. A world that acts more like a machine than a society of freethinkers. A world where your every action becomes influenced by the control established by those special few “in the know.”
Sounds a lot like Big Brother, doesn’t it? True, but that’s not entirely the point of this article.
The point is that there is a better way. The Fun Theory is in its initial stages, one where inspiring others is of utmost importance and probably their main focus. Just the idea that having more fun is not only possible, but also that it can have a positive impact on our culture is amazing and a worthy pursuit. But if they want to grow their idea, they need to do more than just inspire. They need to start offering something practically useful for the world. Because the truth is – most people don’t have fun anymore. Most people have actually forgotten how to play. And honestly, there are a lot of things in this world that could be better. The Fun Theory absolutely has a legitimate mission, and a worthy cause – but they need to approach it from a slightly different angle.
If they don’t adapt, the novelty will eventually wear off and people will go back to their original, subconscious habits.
The Heart of The Fun Theory
So, do you remember the principle I mentioned at the beginning of the article? This is the main reason for writing this post, to explain this principle because it is of utmost importance and is entirely congruent with the Physical Living philosophy.
And here is the principle, quite literally a secret to success that, if applied, will revolutionize the way you live your life: Love what you do. Or, put another way: Enjoy what you do. Or even, have fun.
That’ll be $300. You can deposit it to my Paypal account. And what a STEAL! $300 is a great deal because that is some of the most valuable advice I’ve ever given. Seriously, I need a pay raise over here!
All kidding aside, making a conscious effort to love what you do is the timeless principle for success that The Fun Theory is trying to replicate. Most people don’t see love as a valuable commodity, though. In fact, most people reading this will probably think, “duh, no kidding, tell me something I don’t know why-don’t-cha!”
The truth is that we already have direct access to the timeless principle that The Fun Theory is based on. It’s within us – the capacity to love. It’s so simple and so obvious that it’s easy to dismiss. We think, “of course, that’s the secret. I get it, now tell me something that will really help me out.”
I’m all for reading the top 10 lists, and 7 ways to improve your lifestyle, and the ultimate habits for ensuring success. But the truth is that all of that stuff is just gravy. Filler information. Noise.
That’s why my new website, Physical Living, will not only offer solutions for exactly HOW to practice a better physical lifestyle, but also how to fall in love with the process (and why). I want to show you how to fall in love with physical living so that you’re not depending on me for a better physical lifestyle (or other blogs, books, resources etc.). I want you to create your own expression of abundant health and fitness and then go on to inspire others to do the same.
You see, I’m the type who takes the stairs at every opportunity I get. Sometimes, I even run up the escalator that’s going down. Why? Because it’s fun and also because it’s a good thing, but mostly because it’s fun. I happen to love physical living, not because I have better blood test numbers or may live longer than most, but because I love how a physical lifestyle makes me feel – right now. I feel great all the time. I can almost fly up the stairs. Nothing can slow me down (or so it feels sometimes). I embrace new challenges willingly and look forward to every opportunity to express the joy I receive from physicality.
I sincerely wish that there was an easy way for me to convey to you how much I truly love physical living. But it’s very hard, especially through the written word (and I’m not even a good writer). If I were a musician, I would play a song to help you get a taste of the experience of how physical living makes me feel. If I were a poet, I would write you something beautiful. But I’m not those things. All I can do is tell you the truth and hope that it sticks, that it sinks in, and that you feel compelled to seek your own expression of love for physical living.
I know artists whose medium is life itself and who express the inexpressible without brush, pencil, chisel or guitar. They neither paint nor dance. Their medium is Being. Whatever their hand touches has increased life. They are the artists of being alive. – Bayeshan
So, now what?
You know the secret – you know the purpose of this article. You get it, and it makes sense. The next step is so simple.
To your health and success,
CST, CST-KS, NSCA-CPT