Empty Nesters: Relearning to Have Fun

Making the Most of Retirement

When we are children, we instinctively know how to enjoy ourselves. We don’t need a reason or reward to go outside and play with a ball. We don’t need a reason to go dance, climb a tree, or play with a hula hoop. We do all these things simply because they give us joy. We have a catch, we chase the squirrels, we play in puddles, we put puzzles together, and we pretend we’re on the moon. There is no limit to what we enjoy doing! So what happens to this? Well, for reasons I never fully understand, as we grow up we get trained out of our instinctual knowledge on how to have fun. We gain trained out of the idea of doing things simply because we enjoy them, acting based on intrinsic motivation. The main reasons this occurs is said to be responsibility. The desire to get something out of what we do in specific money and affection. Very slowly we trade in our acting for joy in exchange for acting for money. We start to shun doing things for the sheer sake of doing them, for the joy they give us. We call these actions unproductive, or a waste of time. We continue to focus on making money, more and more of it Having been trained that acting for money is more important than acting for joy.

So what happens next? Well we try to find joy of course!! We do it in new ways, trying to essentially buy it. We buy all kinds of new toys and gadgets. We travel and go places. Now, don’t get me wrong, many of these toys are a great deal of fun indeed! Not to mention traveling is absolutely beautiful, and great fun if you can do it. But buying the toys is the easy part. The difficult thing is relearning how to have fun, remembering once more how to enjoy them.

For example, how many of you have gone on vacation only to find you come home more stressed than you were when you left? Where was the fun? When we were children we could find fun in a balloon, or in the aisles of a home depot, yet now, we have trouble finding joy in all of venice!! What happened? Well it’s exactly as said above. We started feeling that doing things just to enjoy them, lacked a point. We completely forget how to enjoy ourselves! So what happens once you have successfully fulfilled your responsibilities in life? You have enough money for food and shelter. You have raised wonderful children that are now deep into their responsibilities. You are now retired, ready to enjoy your golden years. So what do you do? Well now is the time to remind ourselves of doing things for the sheer joy of doing them. To remember that it is ok to play with a balloon and throw a ball around. That there is fascination everywhere you go, even within the leaves on the trees. To take the time to watch the grass grow and wonder how it does that! I mean seriously, did you know grass grows underground, and that it’s all essentially one plant? Crazy right?? Roll around in the grass or down a hill. Why? Because you can. You used to enjoy it once, do you remember when and why you stopped enjoying it? And that’s the question I will leave you all with, in order to show the above is true When exactly was it, in your life, that you stopped being able to do things just because? When did there become a need for a “point”?

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