My Formula for Fun

tt139.jpgEveryone loves to do something. Everyone.  And most of us love to do several things, even if we don’t quite think to place it in some mental category labeled “fun.”

In recent weeks, we have had a firestorm of political activity, and I’m realistic enough to know that each of us has daily, personal trials that we must confront.

It occurred to me that we need a break emotionally, spiritually and even physically, for some. It further dawned on me that the easiest, least expensive way to achieve some fun or relaxation is to learn how to do something that we’ve always thought about but keep in the “I’m going to get to it” category. It might even be some activity that we once did and now has slipped away.

I read a news story about a hospital that holds harmonica classes for people suffering from pulmonary illnesses. Apparently, because you blow in and out with a harmonica, it’s a form of exercise for the lungs. Many of these patients seem to enjoy playing the harmonica, and those who participate range from youthful to elderly. They enjoy themselves while helping build greater lung capacity. Think of it as self-healing.

I’m using harmonica as an example. However, the choices you have are virtually endless. It can be a new, boisterous exercise program (I know a fellow who started jiu-jitsu classes in his 60s) to something as mild as creating a list of the 100 best movies of all time. Numerous such top 100 lists exist. Of course, you do have to set time aside to watch the top 100. What I find particularly compelling is that if we begin or return to an activity that brings us enjoyment, it is a way to freshen our spirit and it promotes a more positive outlook on life.

I would also add that the choices and the accessibility to instruction are greater now than ever before. There is virtually no activity that might interest you which isn’t available on the Internet. And it’s virtually free. All you must do is Google search or go to YouTube for the instructions. The choice selection, the sheer variety is stunning.

If you’re not an Internet type and still prefer live instruction, you can find shorter courses on a plethora of subjects often offered by local libraries or various townships. For a small fee, you can usually participate in an introductory course. Finally, if you’re a graduate from a local university, you can often audit a complete course by paying a reduced fee. (And by auditing, you don’t have to worry about an exam.) There are also free courses in New Jersey if you are a “senior.”  For example, Rutgers offers a Senior Citizen Audit Program. The Rutgers University Board of Governors created this program “to permit retired New Jersey residents, age 62 or older, to attend courses on a space-available, noncredit basis. There are no tuition costs for auditing courses.” Now, that’s a deal.

Then there are courses available online from top universities, similar to those that students study. Online students might not get credit, certificates or similar awards, but these courses are often free even when the school is an Ivy League institution. For example, you can take a course, “Algorithms Part I,” from New Jersey’s Princeton University, or if you’re more musically minded, consider Introduction to Classical Music, with instructors from Yale University. All these are available through www.coursera.org (all the courses are free). There isn’t enough room in this blog to begin describing the courses available except to say, check it out; it’s fantastic. If you’d rather listen to a course via iTunes, compliments of Stanford University, there is an audio and video option. All you need is http://itunes.stanford.edu/.

There you have it. Now all you must do is answer one simple question: What would I like to do or learn? And then you apply the secret glue: Just do it. That’s my take, what’s yours?


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