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Having Fun for Growing Down

Chapter 14 Growing Down by Having Fun

Growing Down - Tools for

Healing the Inner Child

By: James J. Messina, Ph.D. &

Constance M. Messina, Ph.D.

What is fun?

Fun is:

  • Relaxation, stress reduction.
  • Sense of humor, lightness.
  • A recess from the responsibilities of life.
  • Leisure time.
  • Recreational activities.
  • Hobbies.
  • Volunteer activities.
  • Sanity in the midst of insanity (and vice versa).
  • Making time for yourself.
  • Athletic or physical exercise.


What are some barriers to having fun?

  • Poor time management.
  • Overly serious attitude.
  • A lack of perspective regarding responsibilities.
  • Absence of healthy role models for having fun.
  • Too busy.
  • Lack of financial resources.
  • Irrational belief system.
  • Lack of permission from self, partner, family, or others to take the time to have fun.
  • Lack of receptivity to fun activity
  • Misconceptions about what fun is.


What beliefs are barriers to having fun?

  • It is selfish to indulge in personal, fun things.
  • It takes away from family unity to indulge in individual, fun activities.
  • One must maintain a serious outlook on life in order to survive.
  • Athletics are just for jocks.
  • You should never engage in anything work-like unless you are paid for it.
  • Taking care of oneself is OK for the other guy but not for me.
  • To have fun takes a lot of money. Only the rich have fun.
  • Fun is elusive or unobtainable.
  • The only fun things are immoral, illicit, illegal, or fattening.
  • Fun or play is bad if it becomes an end in itself.
  • I feel so guilty when I'm doing nothing and relaxing.
  • The only real relaxation is sleep.
  • I don't have time for fun.
  • Having fun at work or school is foolish, immature, and irresponsible.
  • I can't relax when I have nothing to do.
  • What will people think of me if they see me acting so unprofessional!
  • It's OK to have fun once in awhile, but you have to come back to reality.
  • It is impossible to have fun when you are loaded down with all my responsibilities.
  • A fun activity is such a waste of time!
  • I'll wait until I retire to enjoy myself.
  • I can't relax until I am financially secure.
  • You have got to be crazy to enjoy that!
  • One must be serious about one's extracurricular activities to be successful, to be a winner.
  • How can I maintain my image of authority if I have fun with my children, co-workers, students, etc.?
  • It is impossible to coordinate everyone's schedule so that we can have fun times together.
  • The only way I can have fun is to be drinking, using drugs, gambling, eating, shopping, having sex, smoking, or working.


What are some strategies for having fun?

  • Nurture your sense of humor by looking at the light side of your serious concerns.
  • Schedule time on a daily or weekly basis for fun, including individual fun time, couple fun time, co-worker fun time, family fun time.
  • Determine which extracurricular activities are fun for the sake of the individual, health, competition, others, work, fun itself.
  • Try one new hobby, athletic activity or fun-time experience per day, week, month, or year.
  • Budget a certain amount of money each week for fun activities.
  • Use the weekend newspapers for tips on free fun things to do.
  • Sleep until noon one day each year. You deserve it.
  • Create a list of alternative fun things to do and post it on your bathroom mirror as a reminder.
  • Create a notebook and record all funny jokes, quotes, quips, and comments you have heard in a day. Use the notebook as a reference to lighten up your serious discussions at home or work.
  • Brainstorm FUN activities you wouldn't do ordinarily. Use your creativity, ingenuity, and imagination in this task.


What are some samples of creative fun activities?

  • Having an evening picnic by candlelight in the backyard.
  • Camping in the backyard all night.
  • Having a late dinner (after ten) by candlelight either on the back porch, under the stars, or in your home with soft music playing.
  • Taking a walk at dawn, relishing the sunrise.
  • Taking a fancy dinner with china, silver service, and candles to the park, especially if there is a free concert.
  • Having a caterer come in to provide a full meal.
  • Starting a food fight with your family or children.
  • Taking a long bath in scented water with candles and romantic music.
  • Body painting your partner.
  • Spending a night in a gaudy motel with water beds, mirrored walls, and hot tubs in the bathroom.
  • Playing queen for a day and pampering yourself.
  • Having your partner function as your slave for the day.
  • Taking a mental health day or a go to hell day off from work.
  • Paying the toll for the person behind you on a toll bridge or on an expressway.
  • Holding a roast or tribute for a family member or friend.
  • Holding a no reason party or an unbirthday party.
  • Wading in fountains at midnight.
  • Drawing love notes on the sand in the evening.
  • Breaking a tradition, such as doing something other than roasting a turkey on Thanksgiving.

What steps can increase the fun in your life?


Step 1: Before you can develop a plan to increase the amount of fun in your life, you must recognize to what extent you allow fun to enter your life. Answer the following questions in your journal:

  • What does fun mean to you?
  • How do you know when you are having fun?
  • How do you feel when you are having fun?
  • What barriers keep you from having fun?
  • How real are these barriers?
  • What blocking beliefs keep you from having fun?
  • What replacement beliefs do you need in order to have more fun?
  • What new behavior do you need to develop in order to have more fun?
  • What strategies could you follow to insure more fun in your life?

Review the sample list of creative fun activities listed earlier in this chapter:

  • How many appeal to you?
  • How many would be fun for you?
  • Note the ones you plan to try out.


Step 2: Once you have a picture of how you react to fun in your life, you are ready for the fun self-analysis activity.

Having Fun Yet? Self-Analysis Activity

Create a chart in your journal with six columns: Fun Activities; Date; Expense; Persons; Time; and Years. Use the following directions to fill in the chart and to answer the questions about your values concerning fun.

1. Brainstorm a list of at least forty fun activities. If you can think of more than forty, continue the first column until your brainstorming is exhausted.

  • How hard or easy was it for you to do this first task?

2. Under the date column indicate when you last did each of the fun activities. Review the results of the completed date column.

  • How do you reconcile your use of time in carrying out activities that are fun and enjoyable for you?
  • Do you make time for fun?

3, Under the expense column indicate the cost of each fun activity listed, i.e., free, under $5, $15 to $25, $25 to $50, $50 to $100, over $100. Review the results of the completed expense column.

  • How expensive is fun for you?
  • Do you unwittingly price yourself out of fun?

4. Under the persons column indicate whether each fun activity is done alone, with another person, with family, with a group, etc. Once you have completed the persons column, review your responses.

  • How important are people in your fun activities?
  • What role do your spouse, lover, family, friends play in these activities?
  • Is fun rare because you only do it with certain people?
  • How comfortable are you with yourself?
  • How much do you depend on others in order to have fun?

5. Under the time column indicate if each fun activity is usually done on vacations (large blocks of time), weekends, or daily (consistently). Review the results of the time column.

  • Does most fun and enjoyment get postponed for large blocks of time?
  • Do your large block of time fun activities cost a lot, need a great deal of planning with others, and thus occur infrequently?

6. Under the years column indicate how many more years you can envision yourself enjoying each of the fun activities listed. Review the results of the years column. 

  • Is each fun activity temporary or lifelong?
  • If the fun activity is temporary, what keeps you from participating in it now while you can still enjoy it?
  • What makes the fun activity lifelong versus temporary for you?

Once you have completed the chart, answer the following questions in your journal

  • What did this activity tell you about the fun in your life?
  • How many of the fun activities listed did you experience in the past year?
  • How many of the fun activities listed are daily events?
  • How great a barrier to your having fun now is the phrase: I'm too busy?
  • How great a barrier to your having fun now is: It's too expensive'' or “It costs too much money?
  • How great a barrier to your having fun now is: It can't be done alone?
  • How great a barrier to your having fun now is: It takes too much time?
  • How great a barrier to your having fun now is: I have a lifetime in which to do that?
  • How valid are your excuses for not having fun?


Step 3: Once you have completed your fun self-analysis, you are ready to make a fun plan of action. In your journal write your plan of action following this outline.

My Plan of Action to Put Fun into My Life

My goal is to recapture fun in my life. I intend to put fun in my life according to this plan of action.

1. I will schedule the following time daily for a fun activity:

The following activities will be part of my daily fun schedule:

2. I will schedule the following time for a weekly fun' activity:

The following activities will be part of my weekly fun schedule:

3. I will schedule the following time for a monthly fun activity:

The following activities will be alternatives for my monthly fun schedule:

4. I will schedule the following time for a yearly fun activity:

The following activities will be alternatives for my yearly fun schedule:

  • I will tell one joke a day.
  • I will have a good, healthy laugh every day.
  • I will change my schedule, breaking a tradition, to let flexibility into my life. (For example, drive a different way to work, speak to one new person every day, turn the TV off for 24 hours.)
  • I will lighten up my serious attitude at least once a day.
  • I will find pleasure on a daily basis in watching myself be the silly, foolish, idiosyncratic person that I am.
  • I will surround myself with people who can laugh at themselves in a healthy manner and who can make me laugh as well. These people and I will be mutual fun-seekers for health and sanity.

I agree to the above Fun Plan of Action. Sign your name and date.

Name                        Date


Step 4: Now that you have completed your fun plan of action, you are ready to put fun into your life.

If after a period of time you find yourself backsliding, return to Step 1 and begin again.