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
You Asked …
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
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.
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!
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:
- responsibility-free and unencumbered
- 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.
Few Non-Specific Suggestions
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
3. Be active. Move your body, stretch your mind.
4. Ask others what they do for fun.
Out for Perfectionism!
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!
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!
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?
here for: How Do I Take Care of Myself While I’m
Joy-Gram for October 2009
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.
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.
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 •