1. Take a walk in the woods. Did you happen to hear the NPR radio program “Noticing: How To Take A Walk In The Woods”? You can be a scientist, focusing your mind on wondrous and beautiful things, and relax, all at the same time. Read and watch here: Noticing: How To Take A Walk In The Woods.
2. Visit some animals. There are a variety of places to do this.
- Farm stands with animals to see, as well as produce to buy.
- Properties owned by natural resources trusts.
3. Take your dog for a walk. It will make both of you so happy! It’s especially nice to bring your best doggie friend to a dog park when he can run free and play with some other doggie friends.
4. Play a board game. Remember how much fun Monopoly can be? How about Scrabble? Even Perfection can be fun played with a child!
5. Visit a museum. There are so many kinds of museums, for every age and interest! Most town libraries offer discounted admission passes to various local museums.
6. Take some photos, lots of photos! With digital technology, we no longer need to worry about wasting money on film. Consider using some of your photos as a basis for a drawing or painting.
7. Sing and dance, whatever suits your fancy at the moment!
- For romance, nothing beats Cole Porter. If you need convincing, see the movie “De-Lovely”.
- Want to shake your booty? Do you favor a Latin beat? Try Zumba!
- Line dancing might be your style. I was at a restaurant where a Country and Western band performed, and a dance instructor provided free lessons.
- There are some great children’s albums available. I once heard Marla Lewis interviewed on NPR, and fell in love with her music and songs. Here is her web site: Musical Adventures For Kids.
8. Make something grow. Whether it’s indoors or out, flower, foliage, or vegetable, big or small; it is so satisfying to make something grow and keep it happy and healthy.
What about a terrarium? I remember making one in Brownies, and it was quite an adventure to find the various components that went into it. Look at this wonderful little online book by Arthur Eames Allgrove: Terrariums and How to Grow Them.
9. Learn something new. Try something new.
- There are many organizations that offer great low-cost programs. In my geographical area, we have a town recreation department, several YMCA’s, and community education centers.
- Several colleges have made their courses available online for free, but not for credit. These lectures can serve as study aids for students as well as enrichment material for people who aren’t interested in a college degree. These free online college courses include classes available from MIT’s OpenCourseWare (which launched the open courseware movement), Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Tufts University, University of Notre Dame and Open Yale Courses, as well as more than 100 more free online courses listed at the Open Courseware Consortium. (Other free online educational materials can be found at the Open Educational Resources (OER) Commons.)
- There are also collections of free audio and video courses at ITunesU (including Stanford University) and YouTube EDU (including University of California at Berkeley).
10. Make someone happy. Make someone happy, just one someone happy, and you will be happy too. Exactly whom or how you help is not important.
- Some of my happiest moments come when I am at an elementary school, participating in an after-school program, helping kids first with homework, then with their cooking club.
- If you enjoy the company of the elderly, volunteer with a nursing home, or take an elderly acquaintance on a day trip.
- If you like being around children, volunteer at a school, or be a scout leader.
- If you love animals, volunteer at a shelter.
- Participate in a fund-raiser to help those who are less fortunate.
The possibilities are endless!
What are some of your favorite no- or low-cost ways to have fun?