Daily Herald August 10, 1991
People have different ways of enjoying themselves. Some pre-plan almost everything they do. Others don't plan much, but do things more impulsively. There are advantages to using both approaches and serious disadvantages to restricting yourself to only one of them. To discover which type of person you are, think about how you use the weekly television guide in your newspaper. Do you browse through the entire week and circle those programs or movies you want to watch? Or, do you ignore the listings and rely on the electronic listings on your television set each night? Or, do you just prefer to channel flip?
Pre-planning some of your enjoyment is helpful in many ways. By doing so you can anticipate some of that enjoyment even before you enjoy it. Advance planning can give you triple your pleasure. You experience the enjoyment of looking forward to doing something, the enjoyment of doing, and the memory of how enjoyable it was to do. If you plan ahead, you can schedule in other non-enjoyable, but necessary, tasks at other times. This way you're free to enjoy yourself when you want to. You can also invite family or friends to be with you to take part in whatever you plan to do.
Doing something spontaneously can be fun. Something done impulsively may have a special excitement of its own, a sort of extra "kick". Spontaneity is an important part of dating, courtship, children's play or adult sexual intimacy. Spontaneity allows you to experience the freedom of being yourself and to do what you want to do, without being anxious, worrying or waiting in advance.
It's important to develop a healthy balance of pre-planned and spontaneous enjoyment. A person who can never cut loose and have fun at a moment's notice may be overly self-controlled, compulsive or obsessive. Not only is their ability to experience fun and enjoyment quite limited, but they're often not much fun to be around. People who never plan or structure any of their enjoyment or fun, but always react at the drop of a hat are more likely to be immature. We don't expect young children to plan their fun and enjoyment in advance, mainly because they're young and immature. But, as children grow older they recognize their dependency on others. They then negotiate and plan their activities with others.
When a married person tells me that their spouse does things without any planning or consideration for the other, I'm usually hearing about a very immature spouse. Maturity is important. It involves a balancing act. You balance pro-planned activities with impulsive and spontaneous activities. You balance your feelings, needs and desires with the feelings, needs and desires of others around you. Balancing is not a static activity. If you balance yourself on a board placed over a log, you don't spend much time in one spot. You tilt to one side one moment, and to the other side the next. Part of the challenge of balancing on a log, like planning for your fun times, is that you never know for sure what you'll be using next. Understanding this and maintaining a health balance in planning your activities is what maturity is all about.