One of the biggest take-aways from the recent mar­ket melt­down, for many peo­ple, was the redis­cov­ery of many kinds of fun that don’t cost money–a lot of the things that peo­ple did years ago before the advent of 3D movies, gourmet restau­rants, trav­el­ing soc­cer teams and end­less consumerism.

In fact, one finan­cial plan­ning firm took a poll of its clients, ask­ing them what kinds of fun things they had redis­cov­ered while they were tight­en­ing their belts.  What they found was that many peo­ple were hav­ing MORE fun with less mon­ey, sim­ply by being creative.

Oth­er advi­sors are ask­ing sim­i­lar ques­tions, and report­ing the answers so that every­body can see what their friends and neigh­bors have discovered/rediscovered.  They received answers like: work­ing jig­saw puz­zles as a fam­i­ly, or play­ing board games (like Scrab­ble) in the evening, invit­ing friends over to play cards, tak­ing walks, cre­at­ing a new flower gar­den, hik­ing in the local state park, attend­ing a vari­ety of free sem­i­nars, get­ting more involved in com­mu­ni­ty meet­ings, hav­ing group cook­outs where every­body shares the cook­ing or brings dish­es, join­ing a book club–the orig­i­nal advi­so­ry firm now has sev­er­al hun­dred sug­ges­tions, and counting.

Of course, the les­son is some­thing that we some­how man­age to for­get from time to time: that the world is full of end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties for fun and plea­sure and sat­is­fac­tion and beau­ty, and some of the most inter­est­ing cost us noth­ing.  In fact, the shared togeth­er­ness of many of the “redis­cov­ered” activ­i­ties makes them supe­ri­or to how many peo­ple were spend­ing their time before the mar­ket dropped.

It would be shame if we learned these impor­tant lessons and then let our redis­cov­er­ies slip away now that peo­ple are feel­ing a bit wealth­i­er again.  They call these the “sim­ple” plea­sures, but there’s noth­ing sim­ple about being cre­ative and real­ly look­ing at the beau­ty and pos­si­bil­i­ties of the world around us.  It’s pos­si­ble that we can be thrifti­er AND enjoy life more if we use our minds and hearts and each oth­er to bring plea­sure and fun into our lives.