Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
October 2009
Welcome to Out on a Limb, a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in your life. To Subscribe, click here.

Since You Asked …

I received the following request from an Out on a Limb reader this past month: “I really don't know how to have fun … any quick and easy tips?” Sure! First, the bad news: there is no universally pleasurable activity. One person’s fun is another person’s flop. Just because Johnny Jovial says that bowling is a blast, you aren’t necessarily going to have as good a time at the bowling alley. The only list of specific, delightful activities that truly makes sense is one that you will generate. Why a list? Because sometimes we forget what we could do for fun when we’re responding to the demands of day-to-day life, or flooded by too many responsibilities or obligations. If you’ve got a list that you can rely on, it’s a form of insurance against the doldrums. It’s good to have at least five activities that you can rely on for guaranteed fun. At the same time, keep your heart and mind open to new stuff that might even trump your original five. A sample list might look like this:

1) Crank up the volume on a favorite song and SING or DANCE!
2) Watch an old episode of a funny sit-com TV show
3) Get outside and take a bike ride or a walk or …
4) Swim in salt water or a lake or a pool
5) Solve a Sudoku or crossword puzzles.

If you are drawing a complete blank and cannot think of anything that is fun, you may have to experiment. You might need to try seven different ideas before you discover something that is a lot of fun for you. It might help to think about how you had fun as a child. If you loved using crayons … who says you wouldn’t still enjoy that now? If you were a really rambunctious or active kid, where might you utilize that same energy now, even if you are much less agile? What qualities of fun in the past can in some way be replicated? If you really didn’t have much fun as a kid, it can be quite instructive to observe or spend time with young children, and get ideas from them!

What Are Your Ingredients?

Think about your particular recipe for having a good time: what qualities or elements underlie the specific activity? For example, the following ingredients are implicit in some or all of the sample list above:

   - uncomplicated
   - responsibility-free and unencumbered
   - inexpensive
   - unplanned/spontaneous
   - can do it with others who share interest
   - can do it alone

Your ingredients serve as criteria for identifying what’s fun for you, and what really isn’t.

  A Few Non-Specific Suggestions

1. Mix it up! Psychologist Bill O’Hanlon wrote a book on this topic: Do One Thing Different.

2. Consider changing the filter through which you experience life. Shifting from an emphasis on what’s wrong to what’s humorous, or what’s working might qualify as a “tune-up.” If your filter is particularly clogged by unexpressed emotional junk, how might you externalize that? Creative expression that’s neither competitive nor outcome-oriented might be worth a try.

3. Be active. Move your body, stretch your mind.

4. Ask others what they do for fun.


Watch Out for Perfectionism!

Try not to over-complicate your efforts. You can have simple fun in five minutes; it needn’t be a massive, or costly production. Avoid the trap of needing to “do” fun perfectly. Be less concerned with how you look. Be willing to be an amateur. Heck, just be willing!

Focus instead on how you’d like to feel after you’ve engaged in a playful activity. If your sense of humor has returned, or if you feel lighter, younger, less doomful, more optimistic, less burdened or overwhelmed, giddy, giggly, more energetic, expansive and open, as opposed to contained or restrained, then what difference does it make whether you did the activity well? Your selected activity has worked its magic!

More Info for Grievers

My most recent FAQ responses for the website, www.Caring.com, were published in September 2009, and are available for viewing.

Click here for: What’s the Difference Between Grief and Depression?

Click here for: How Do I Take Care of Myself While I’m Grieving?


Joy-Gram for October 2009

Make your list of at least 5 “bankables.” These are activities that you can rely on for fun, even at times when it’s hard to imagine you’ll ever have fun again. Try to come up with a list that combines a few activities that take little time with a few that might take longer. Also, shoot for a mix of inexpensive (if not free) activities with those that might be more costly. And for the remainder of this month: just keep adding more bankables to your list, whenever new or remembered ones occur to you.


Pictured Above

This photo was taken on the morning of my brother’s wedding. I’m grateful to have grown up in a family that knew how to have fun.


Archives Now Available

To re-read or share past Out On A Limb newsletters, click here, or type the following url into your browser: http://www.mcscala.com/html/EZineArchives.html.

By no means do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!


Martha Clark Scala, MFT 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303

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