Fun Therapy

Last night I spent the evening making encaustic (wax) collage with a couple buddies.  It was such a good time I lost track of the hours.

It got me thinking about the ways our concept of fun changes over time.   My children are in that magical phase of active, creative fun.  They spend hours comparing their Pokémon collections, hunting for bugs in the backyard, drawing pictures and creating elaborate forts in the living room.  They really know how to entertain themselves.

Young adults often pass through a phase of boundary-pushing, self destructive fun:  going to bars to get drunk, experimenting with drugs, having unprotected sex, engaging in extreme sports, etc…    (This is a white-knuckle phase for many parents, who conveniently forget their own risky teenage behavior.)

As people get older, perhaps a bit wiser as well as less adventurous, there is the temptation of passive fun.  The equation looks like this:  Boredom minus imagination equals (B – I=):  watching TV, buying lottery tickets, surfing the net, Facebook-ing, indulging in the collective fantasy of fun being delivered like a pizza to our door.

There’s no way around our ingrained laziness, and really this is no one’s fault.   We are biologically programmed to conserve energy from back when our ancestors would survive food scarcity by hanging out in their caves, lolling about and doing nothing (other than avoiding death by starvation, that is!).

And passive fun can be a whole lot o good time, for darn near no energy!

Any kind of fun-seeking works beautifully some of the time, but like the alcoholic who spent one perfect night at the bar and then goes there night after night trying to have the same experience, problems arise when our recipe for enjoyment lacks variety.

One of the great gifts of middle age is the return to a more creative and active type of fun.  To me a balance of learning, creative expression, socializing, reflection, service and movement are my Platonic ideal of fun.  When I ask clients about their creative outlets, usually the more outlets they have the better they sleep and the healthier they are.

Some folks miss out on deep, gratifying and varied fun because they can only think of the same stuff they used to do.  So in the spirit of Fun Therapy, take a look at these questions and think about (or comment back) your answers:

Has your definition of fun changed over the years?

If so, how?

If not, why not?

What did you enjoy doing as a child?

How can you adapt that to your adult life?

Is your pursuit of fun causing any negative ramifications?

*** How do you find ways to have the kind of fun that adds, rather than subtracts from your overall life experience?  (extra credit question)

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