“When fun gets deep enough, it can heal the world.” the Oaqui
So you’ve probably heard someone older than you at some point start off a sentence with “back in the day…” and follow it up with a nostalgic reminiscence of simpler, slower paced times. While life was definitely a lot tougher a generation or two ago for many, there were also certain things we could learn from taking a look backwards. Before the boom of communications and entertainment technology people had no choice but to appreciate the little things. The alternative was basically to live a somewhat unhappy life because easy, mind-numbing distractions (like TV, video games, etc.) were a lot fewer and far between! In integrating minimalism into your life it’s key to find ways you can plug into appreciation and fun without needing lots of money, hundreds of gadget or tonnes of equipment to have a good time! Following is some food for thought to help you have fun…with little to nothing!
30.1 Bringing Back The D Word
“The job of feets is walking, but their hobby is dancing.” Amit Kalantri
Your parents or grandparents can likely remember “back in the day” how people used to get together for dances regularly. Dance has always been a huge part of maintaining the social fabric of cultures across the globe. It’s been the way people met partners, made friends between communities or celebrated just about anything worth celebrating. Dance happened in large groups and in private homes. Dancing, up until recently, was one of the number one ways of having fun in most parts of the world (and still is in many!). Unfortunately in North America a lot of people have lost touch with social dance culture beyond clubbing, which frankly isn’t at all attractive to a large portion of the population and isn’t particularly family friendly.
If you want to bring some fun into your life without needing anything but a little music, dance is an awesome thing to try! You can do it with your family of any age, with friends, by yourself or with a partner. Just remember what infamous modern dancer Martha Graham said: “nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance.” As long you’ve got music you like and an interest in moving your body and having fun, it’s all good! If you want to step it up a notch, taking dance classes is always an option and can be a great activity to do with a friend or partner. Social dance of all sorts is making a big comeback right now so finding places to go out dancing, be it swing, salsa or contra dance, is easier by the day. And if you’re more into improvised dance you can always have living room dance nights with friends or family, or find places to go out that play styles of music you enjoy. Dancing also has proven positive health impacts such as improved balance, muscle memory and in fact, memory in general! Dance is used as a form of therapy because it causes the release of endorphins (brain chemicals that promote satisfaction, euphoria, and high pain tolerance).
30.2 Faux Percussion Jams: Music For the Non-Musician
“Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.” Nina Dobrev
People who haven’t had music in their lives from early on often find it intimidating. And some people who have had it in their lives since childhood learned to treat is as something “serious” instead of playful. This doesn’t have to be the case! The “faux percussion jam,” is a super fun, playful and thoroughly non-intimidating option. It boils down to finding things with different sounds in your immediate environment to make joyful noise with! Anyone who has spent time with an energetic toddler can find inspiration in their approach to noise-making. See something, bang on it, enjoy the sounds. Repeat.
While you can totally geek out by yourself making rhythms with your cutlery, it’s more fun to have multiple parts going. If you’ve got kids, this can be a great way of having fun while channeling any excess energy they may have (and-or not letting the noise they would otherwise be making anyway get on your nerves!). Or if you have friends who haven’t let growing up make them too serious, try it out with them! One fun idea is to fill a bunch of glasses or bottles with different levels of water and make music using the different tones created by the water, either by tapping the glasses or, if using small-necked bottles, blowing over the top. There are in fact people out there performing orchestral pieces using only bottles filled with water! You never know what you might come up with!
30.3 Conversations, Storytelling & Just Hanging Out!
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Back in the day,” before we were more often than not glued to a screen of some sort or another communicating with people far and wide, people had more in-person conversations and spent time together “spinning yarns” and recounting stories from memory or inventing new ones…and they enjoyed it! Hanging out and telling stories – from real life or from your imagination – can be a lot of fun in the right company! Maybe you even have a specific culture in your heritage and friends or family who would be interested in learning and-or sharing traditional from those cultures! Either way, making a ritual of conversational time with your family is one way of integrating the simplicity principle into your leisure time. Relearning how to just be with each other is a gateway to a whole lot of good times!
On a similar note, making time to just hang out with friends – without necessarily having to have some epic outing planned or going out and consuming anything (be it a movie, food, or shopping…) is yet another way of experiencing minimalist fun. You may even want to take it to another level and organize “conversation nights” where you handpick a bunch of friends and acquaintances from different arenas of your life who you think would have similar interests and could have good conversations together. You could even “curate” specific subjects or themes for each event and hold them say, once a month! If you’re somehow who enjoys good company and stimulating conversation this is a sure-fire way to have a good time with basically nothing! (okay, so someone’s going to have to cook…but potlucks are a way of getting out of too much work for any one person!).
30.4 Observation Games
There’s like a good ol’ walk to bring you back into enjoying the present moment! And you need nothing but your feet! One way of making walks fun again is by playing little games with yourself or your walking partners. For example, fo for a walk in a place you know super well but try and experience it the way someone who’s never been there before would. Give yourself the challenge of noticing 5 news things you’ve never noticed before, or that may have changed recently. Or see how many different types of trees, plants or birds you can identify on your walk. Or challenge each other to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Or try and explore and new street or nearby area everytime you go for a walk! There are a whole lot of ways to make a simple walk around the neighborhood into a magical adventure!
30.5 Equipment-Free Outdoor Sports!
There’s a lot to be said for doing fun outdoor activities that require zero equipment. You’re 100% more likely to actually do them when you have free time, for example. And they’re accessible for anyone, so you can invite friends who maybe don’t have the equipment you might have or go do them without having to make time to buy or rent whatever you need. Swimming and hiking are two of the main ways people could easily get outside and have fun without needing anything. For those comfortable with height and with access to some mature trees, tree-climbing is another option. If you’re looking for something a bit more intense, you could try parcours (the art of free running…).
30.6 Fort Building…It’s Not Just for Kids!
“I am going to keep having fun every day I have left, because there is no other way of life. You just have to decide whether you are a Tigger or an Eeyore.” Randy Pausch
No, fort building is not just for kids. Building shelters can be fun for people of any age…and if you have to give yourself a practical reason to justify doing it, there are plenty! You could build an outdoor shelter to sleep outside or to take naps outdoors without getting sunburnt. You could build one as surprise for or fun project to do with your kids or your friends kids. You could build a quinzee (a simple snow shelter, like an igloo without blocks) for the same reasons in winter if you have enough snow. Indoor forts, the above kid-centered reasons apply as well, but you could also just get in touch with your inner child with a bunch of fund grown ups and have a movie night in your awesome living room fort! Maybe your grandparents wouldn’t have been caught dead doing so, but there’s got to be some perks to living in a slightly more relaxed cultural context, right?
Whether you live in the country, the heart of the city or the suburbs, you can practice and have fun wildcrafting and making things out of the stuff you find out there in the world! Urban wildcrafting and scavenging groups exist in a lot of major cities across North America and elsewhere. If you’re not familiar with wildcrafting, it’s the idea of harvesting edible or otherwise useful things that grow in nature without you having planted them! What’s great is that you’ll inevitably learn things through the process! In the country you might have fun picking edible mushrooms during mushroom season, for example. In the city you can still find useful plants growing in the cracks and abandoned areas! While you may not want to eat things you pick in the city, depending on soil and air pollution, you can collect things to use in other ways. Pressing flowers was a common hobby “back in the day” and the resulting dry pressed flowers can be used for all sorts of neat crafts (decoration for paper or cards, candles, etc.). Wildflowers can also be used to make “scent sachets” for drawers, mixed into bath salts, and any number of other things. Your imagination (or your googling skills) is the limit!
30.8 Paradigm Flip: Making Work Fun!
“If I quit having fun, then it’s time for me to quit working.” Charlaine Harris
Many of us learn from childhood that work and play are opposites. In order to live a happier (and more successful!) life it’s essential to breakdown that false dichotomy. Work can actually be play. And since “work” if what most of us spend the majority of our days doing, flipping the switch in your brain to see things differently, or full on changing careers so that you’re doing something you really enjoy is absolutely critical. If it’s not possible right now then it’s something you can build towards. Imagine how much fun you’d be having, without adding anything new to your life, if your work was part of having fun! If you woke up everyday looking forward to doing whatever you do for work.
“Back in the day,” work may have been serious business, but there was less of a “work vs. play” split in people’s minds. Work was just Life and leisure time was focused on simpler, home or community oriented activities. Today our culture is so focused on leisure and entertainment that work is viewed as the opposite of fun in a lot of people’s minds. You have the privilege of living in a time when it’s a lot easier to choose what you want to do as a career, and much easier to actually make it happen. So if your work isn’t already something you’re passionate about, it’s worth considering how you could make the switch! For some extra inspiration and deeper explanation on this topic check out Dr. Peter Gray’s article “Play Makes us Human IV: When Work is Play.”
30.9 Action Point Summary – Here’s What You Need to Do Now!
Ready to have fun with nothing? Here are some ideas to start with…