The Question Most Asked: “How Do I Stay Out of Trouble?” and 100 Ways to Do So

This morning I learn the question people ask most frequently that leads them to my blog. Aren’t you curious? Is it about happiness? God? Teaching? Parenting?


Here’s the top question folks ask online that directs them to my blog:

“How do I stay out of trouble?”

From that question, people all over the world are reading this one little post I wrote for college students during a big party weekend three years ago about how they might stay out of trouble. A young man had visited my office hours the day before and had asked me if I had any ideas for how he could stay out of trouble.

He’d been arrested; he’d had several underage drinking citations; his GPA had plummeted from a 4.0 to a 1.7. Feeling like he’d squandered the last four years of his life, he asked me what I did for fun that didn’t involve getting drunk or using drugs.

“What do you do for fun, Dr. H.? What kinds of things did you and your husband do in college instead of paryting?”

He actually found a pen and paper and took notes. 

Back then, I provided 50 alternatives to partying. In the past three years, I’ve doubled the list.  Since this is what people ask most, why not provide some more answers?

Enjoy the 100 Ways to Stay Out of Trouble Tonight

1.Learn the moves to Michael Jackson’s Thriller or Beat It

2.Cook a gourmet meal with your friend. 

3.Play improvisational games (Watch “Whose Line is it Anyway” or just play charades)

4.Organize your desk.

5.Do a movie marathon of 1980’s John Hughes movies. Or James Bond. Or Spielberg.

6.Visit every coffee shop downtown and evaluate each one.

7.Plant something in a pot from a seed and watch it grow.

8.Call your parents.

9.Call somebody from your childhood. 

10.Read a bestselling novel. Then go talk to people about it. Book clubs are cool. 

11.Go thrift store shopping.

12.Find neighborhood garage sales and buy unusual things.

13.Go to a local park and swing very high so you can jump out of the swing. 

14.Go for a long walk. See if you can walk for an entire hour.
15.Search for new music. Fall in love with a new band.
16.Get into a fascinating conversation with a complete stranger.
17.Go to church.
18.Plan some dreams for the next decade. Write out your personal mission statement.
19.Help somebody do something.
20.Watch people. Tell a story about their lives.
21.Learn a new sport.
22.Start a blog.
23.Get a great night’s sleep.
24.Go to a fancy grocery store and buy the most expensive chocolate just to try it.
25.Go to a pet store and hold all the new kittens and puppies.
26.Find a creek and sit by it.
27.Build your own kite and then fly it somewhere.
28.Start a collection of some really obscure thing.
29.Learn to draw something.
30.Make a flip book comic.
31.Go in search of the world’s most comfortable slippers.
32.Learn a different language. (I want to learn Chinese this summer)
33.Go to a toy store and play with the toys.
34.Hang out at a bookstore and read for an hour.
35.Volunteer to help at a shelter or a community center.
36.Join a club.
37.Drive down a country road. (Rt. 550 changed my life)
38.Learn double dutch jump rope.
39.Do something that gets your heart rate up for 40 minutes and see how good you feel.
40.Practice being alone for an entire evening.
41.Donate stuff you don’t need.
42.Read a chapter in a textbook because you want to learn something, not because it’s on the test.
43.Reread a book from your childhood.
44.Hike. Camp. Build a fire by rubbing sticks together.
45.Make a scrap book.
46.Invent a game to play involving flip flops and trees.
47.Create an ad campaign to motivate people to do something.
48.Teach somebody how to do something.
49.Watch an entire season of a show on DVD in one day.
50.Make water your beverage selection for the whole weekend. Hydration can change your life.
51. Climb a tree.

52. Explore new teas and have a tea ceremony.

53. Walk into a new place and introduce yourself to somebody.

54. Write a film script for a movie.

55. Plan your novel.

56. Offer to babysit for free.

57. Sing very loud in your living room like you’re auditioning for American Idol.

58. Think of one small thing to do every day that just might change the world.

59. Scrub your kitchen floor. Then go clean your toilet. Then wash your sheets.

60. Go to the community pool and go off the high dive.

61. Start a club based on your interests. Advertise and see who comes.

62. Invite your neighbors over for dessert.

63. Learn to make one incredibly fabulous and decadent dessert for these neighbors first.

64. Go to the symphony, the ballet, and the opera at least once.

65. Find the historic sites in your town and visit them.

66. Visit a graveyard and notice what’s written on the headstones.

67. Write down what you really want. Write down the steps to get there. Do step one.

68. Write an opinion piece for the New York Times.

69. Forgive that other person and release bitterness.Call them and tell them.

70. Plant a garden and make a salad exclusively from your harvest.

71. Let yourself fall in love.

72. Eat amazing breakfasts. Eat amazing breakfasts for dinner.

73. Make a craft.

74. Write a poem and actually show someone.

75. Write a thank you note to three people who won’t expect it.

76. Read the Bible.

77. Do one thing that terrifies you today.

78. Try a new food.

79. Go bird nest hunting.

80. Get a bike and ride it through town.

81. Get a camera and learn the art of photography

82. Go volunteer at a retirement center and listen to the elderly tell their stories.

83. Buy fresh cut flowers and deliver them to someone (or yourself).

84. Buy a journal and write in it every day.

85. Teach what you know to someone else.

86. Drive to the country on a clear night to see the stars.

87. Pick a fresh peach or apple right off the tree and eat it.

88. Start a campaign to change something you don’t like in your community.

89. Go bowling.

90. Go owling in the middle of the night and marvel at noctural animals. 

91. Go to a square dance in your town.

92. Pray. Write down your prayers.

93. Hold a baby.

94. Go to a comedy club and laugh.

95. Listen to live music.

96. Write a letter to your future self.

97. Smell the grass.

98. Go to a high school football game and drama production.

99. Make your own butter.

100. Eat cupcakes.

So there. Here’s to living with flair.

Can you add three more?


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One thought on “The Question Most Asked: “How Do I Stay Out of Trouble?” and 100 Ways to Do So

  1. Love it! Sharing it with my younger brother (who starts college next year) and keeping it in mind for myself as well – there are some fun adventures on this list!

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