We live in a cluttered, noisy society. We’re constantly being told that to have fun, we need to invest in an extensive library of gadgets and paraphernalia. Surround sound speakers, high definition TV sets, video game consoles with fancy motion controls, air-cushion training shoes, abmasters – even the most primal way of making fun comes loaded with little blue pills and things that go buzz in the night nowadays.
If you believe what they tell you, Step One is almost always “Spend Money.”
Which can be a little disheartening to those who want to get paid to play so they can supplement an already tight budget. Sure, you have to spend money to make money, but how do you know whether the investment in the fun you think you want to make is going to be worthwhile?
Well, that’s the nature of life; sometimes, you just have to do what seems like a good idea at the time and learn from the consequences. Still, wouldn’t it be nice to have some sort of idea about the kind of fun you want to make beforehand, so you’re not just swinging blind?
The good news is, there are five basic experiments you can start doing right now to help you focus on your own, personal brand of fun… and they all involve using the greatest tool and instrument you’ll ever have, the only thing you’ll truly possess:
The body you were born with.
Here’s one I prepared earlier. My wife took this photo for me a few weeks ago; I posted it in the Fitocracy forums as the starting point for a body transformation thread (I’m working on putting some more meat on them there bones, you see).
So what are these Step Ones you can start doing right now, even if you’re a little dollar-shy?
On one hand, it’s what we do every day and it’s the basis for virtually everything else we do. On the other, though, thinking is invisible, inaudible, intangible; unless we’re translating thought into activity, whether moving or speaking, there’s not much fun we can make via thinking that others would value.
Unless someone were, say, funding MRI scans of people’s brains in order to gather data on which parts of the brain are active when? There’s a thought.
But even if ways of getting paid to simply sit and cogitate are few and far bewtween, thinking is, ultimately, the Step One of all Step Ones. Why? Because our brains are problem solving machines, and fun is the solution to the problem of: How can I be entertained for a while?
Spend a little time thinking about what entertains you, then put your brainpower to the problem: How can I take my fun and entertain others with it?
#2: Watch / Listen.
As much as you might be able to make your personal taste in fun into an entertaining product, you mightn’t be able to find an audience local to you. That’s where using your senses comes in.
Can you make watching and listening into a Step One itself? Well, rent-a-crowds aren’t unheard of, and there’s the possibility of being a passive extra in a televison show or movie. But unless you’re thinking about what we’re watching and then passing the results of those thought processes on, few will find the basic activity of actually watching and listening of value. And passing your thinking product on gets into the realm of “reviewing;” unless you have an immediate audience, you’ll need other tools to spread your observations.
But then, especially when you consider “listening,” there’s the very fine art of just being there for someone, especially when a person just needs someone to be there when he or she needs to share a burden. Priests and psychologists have been doing this for years. Is it fun? Not necessarily in the strictest definition; burdens are, by their nature, heavy, and sharing them takes work and stamina. Yet it can offer rewards far and beyond the average definition of “fun;” it can be truly satisfying.
How do you practice? Well, you can try watching or reading some form of entertainment product, but again, that implies an investment.
The good news is that you have plenty of sources which you can analyse and draw conclusions from. Just go and sit in a public place and watch and listen the people around you. Don’t aim to eavesdrop, but let your brain process what your eyes and ears bring it without extra effort.
What things can you learn about the people around you by the way they move, dress, talk? And do you find it such an interesting exercise that you want to do more for the people around you?
Now we’re moving into the realm of actually giving things to people, communicating with them. The trick, of course, is to have something they either want or need to hear (ideally both), and then finding them so you can tell them.
Speaking is something you can practice around your home, but sooner or later you’re going to have to get a group of people to listen to what you have to say together in one place. Audiences can be a bit tricky to come by, but if you’re willing to risk looking a little silly, your town or city might have a venue (and a potential audience) all ready for you that you can use, free of charge.
The Ray Jones Speaker’s Corner is right on the Shields Street Plaza in Cairns. The plaque on it quotes the Greek historian Dionysius: “Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent.” A good admonition – except how do you know whether what you have to say is of value to others unless and until you start telling them?
Speakers’ Corners can be found in many towns and cities around the world. A well known Corner is in Hyde Park in London, right opposite the Duke of Wellington’s residence.
If you want to truly test your ideas and your ability to convey them, there are few better litmus tests than standing up in the middle of an open space and taking your best shot. Who knows? Be interesting, articulate and entertaining and you could well gain some positive press!
Now here’s a popular one, especially in the modern age of Pop Idol, The Voice, talent shows and YouTube sensations. It’s also probably the easiest basic activity to find clubs for. Heck, most churches have a choir.
It’s also the most readily fun activities you can find. You probably have a list of favourite tunes, some of which you may also be singing in the shower or the car. What’s better than belting them out for an audience, selling them on your love of those tunes?
And maybe you could come up with some new songs of your own?
Whether above or below the neck, this is again something most of us do every minute of every day. How can you make fun out of just moving around?
Well, there’s the sheer challenge of pushing your limits. Sportspeople do this all the time, whether in complex team sports like basketball or rugby or in seemingly-simple sports like running. Sometimes, the sheer joy of focused, co-ordinated movement is enough.
Even basic exercise is becoming a lucrative field nowadays, and many are discovering you don’t even need to spend money on gym gear, barbells or weight machines to get results. Heck, a lot of councils are investing in public exercise stations in parkland or near the shore.
Do well enough and you could find yourself helping others along the way and getting paid for the privilege. People like this have a name, nowadays: Personal trainers.
And then, of course, there’s dancing.
Like singing, dancing’s undergone a resurgence lately. Between celebrity shows like Dancing With The Stars and high-profile amateur talent shows like So You Think You Can Dance, everyone is picking up the bug of moving their bodies to the beat; even those who haven’t will probably want to watch.
So try pushing your body a bit (though talking with your doctor first is never a bad idea). Find ways of moving it through the spaces around you that bring you fun.
What if I do have a little spare cash?
My recommendation? If you discover speaking, singing or dancing to be your bag, find a club or class.
- If you make fun by speaking your mind, then Toastmasters or a similar organisation may have branches in your area.
- If you prefer to raise your voice in song, there are the aforementioned choirs, and your town may have a singing club at a local community hall. If you reckon you’re good enough, you could even try applying to your local council for a busker’s license!
- If you like the pleasure of moving your body for its own sake, you can find fitness groups all over the place. Contact your council; some are organising free, public fitness classes. Even malls and shopping centres are letting walking groups use their air conditioned interiors as exercise spaces.
- If you enjoy mixing your exertion with thinking tactically, sports clubs or and martial arts schools should be easy to find. You may have to wait until a sporting club’s next season’s membership intake, but if you’re keen they may still have you along for training and practice sessions.
- And when it comes to dancing you’re likely to find classes all over the place, especially Spanish restaurants who often host salsa classes once or twice a week.
No matter whether it’s physical or mental exercise you dig, find some like-minded folks. Get to know them, learn from them, make friends and build a support network. Though in the end, only you can get yourself going, it’s a lot easier to maintain momentum when you’re cruising with others.
But no matter what, remember this:
You are a human being, most versatile species on this planet for tens of thousands of years. Your ancestors have found ways of making fun with just their minds and bodies since the first tales around the clan fire. If you are unsure just what kind of fun you can make, start with what you can do in your own skin and work outward from there.
What About You?
- What fun can you make without resorting to outside resources?
- Are you getting paid to play based on a Step One that didn’t need anything more than your body and creativity? How?
- Have you entertained people in a public arena? How did it go? Are you making a regular thing of it nowadays?