The best things in life are free. Or so the saying goes. As kids, it was easy to pass the day playing with friends or even on your own. We used an often overlooked tool called an imagination. But then, between adolescence and adulthood something happens.
When did we start to pay for fun?
I’m not sure why, but there comes a point in our lives when we believe it’s acceptable to outsource the creation of fun. We look for it at the mall with retail therapy, at the movies, or in our phone / tablet. In fact, the average person touches their phones over 2,000 times per day spending over 2 hours on it.
But the fact is that buying somebody else’s idea of fun, probably isn’t what we want.
The past few times I’ve gone onto Netflix, I’ve become totally paralyzed. I get bored (ridiculous problem to have with 3 small kids) and start searching for a movie. I’ll find one, and then I’ll wonder if it’s the right one for my mood, or if there’s one that I’d like more so I keep searching. 30 minutes later and I shut the damn i-pad off because I’m tired of looking.
My wife will tell you that even if I manage to pick a movie, I don’t actually watch it. I multi-task and end up reading a book or magazine while the movie is playing.
My problem is that I was expecting Netflix to create the fun for me. I wanted to pay someone to solve a problem that frankly, only I can. I would have a hell of a lot more fun if I’d ask my wife to play Jenga with me or started a new post for this blog!
Fun is free
We took our kids on a ferry to Stockholm and visited Skansen museum, which I think is one of the better open air museums I’ve been to. That’s right, we visited an open air museum in Sweden in November. We can thank half price coupons for that gem of an idea 🙂 .
The kids had a good time running around the old buildings and looking at some of the animals in the small zoo. Actually, for the most part I read all of the plaques next to the animal’s cages while the kids ran around laughing and playing.
After a full day we got back on the boat and the kids proceeded to run around the maze of hallways near our room, chasing one another. With all the giggling you would have thought there was an entire kindergarten class in the hallway.
When we got home I asked my two oldest girls what their favourite part of the trip was and they both said, “running around the boat.”
That evening, while lying in bed, I asked my wife what her favourite part of the trip was. With my incredibly keen pattern recognition capabilities I basically knew the answer before she said it…”watching the kids run around the boat.”
For the grand total of 0€, my kids ran around in circles for the better part of an hour screaming and giggling until they wore themselves out.
Where’s your happy place
Think about the things you do that give you the most pleasure. Do they cost any money? Are they self generated activities? Is it as simple as spending time with friends and family?
I love taking walks with my family next to the sea by our house. I also love to ride my bike. That might be an understatement. When I get on my bike and start riding next to the amazing paths near our home, the only thing keeping me from giggling like my two daughters is the fear that someone may report me to the police.
Again, the cost of something that gives me that much pleasure is 0€.
Netflix or a new jacket can never deliver that kind of fun, because the fun of riding my bike comes from within. It’s chosen and created by me. I’m simply doing something that gives me joy.
Don’t outsource your fun.
It’s important to remember that we’re in charge of our own lives, and creating our own fun. There’s no use believing that by buying any product or service that we’ll be happier for it.
By doing the things that actually give you joy, not only will you be happier, but you’ll be saving a ton of money. More fun + more money = faster financial freedom. Score one for the middle class!