Play more!

The world today is just so serious! So intense, so frightening! It takes a lot of effort to stay calm, stay focused and calm and stay on the path to wellness we want to achieve. Have you noticed how much fun it is to be around children? How fun it is to see the world from their eyes, where everything is new and fresh and possible? Children don’t have to accomplish much and that’s where the fun is. Seeing where there are opportunities to play and finding ways to play more.

So first let me answer your objection about the world being too awful and terrible and sad to be running around and enjoying yourself. Let me answer you that the world is no different than it has essentially been for a long time. It’s just that when these horrible things occurred all over the world, you didn’t pay as much attention to it before, and perhaps you’d be better off doing the same now. The media wants you to watch, so they expose us to more and more graphic and horrible things. Unfortunately, horrible things happen all the time and always have. Little dramas, little tragedies, and Natural disasters have always occurred. It’s your job now to avoid exposing yourself to too much of this, and when you can’t avoid it, remind yourself that these things have always occurred. The real truth about our lives is that there are millions of very wonderful people in the world, and thousands of good ones for every bad apple, but if the news reported that everything today was peaceful and good, no one would watch. Tragedy gets our attention and boosts ratings, so it will be. It’s your choice how much you expose yourself to that. The best remedy is to go outside and look around to just how peaceful everything is. How smoothly everything is running, just like yesterday. On most days, people are even friendly and polite to each other, your neighbors are friendly and polite or at least considerate. You did not wake up this morning with someone having sprayed graffiti art on the front of your house or car. The world today is as you left it last night, and most of it is good. It is good enough that you notice when you have a flat tire. You notice when the battery is dead on the phone. You notice when the electricity is out. In short, most of life is incredibly good and most humans are incredibly good. There is so much to be grateful for.

But, wait, you say you’re still focusing too much on achievement to have fun? You don’t find time to have fun? You don’t have the money to have fun? The lucky children and few adults who know how to have fun know it doesn’t take much time or money but imagination! Everyone has one of these? Remember? Sometimes that same imagination is what makes it seem like the whole world is unsafe, right? Well, it’s that same imagination that can make things fun too. You’ve just gotten out of the habit of using it to have fun!

Let me share one recent family event that was a blast. We had gotten one of those Jelly Belly Boozled games. It’s the Jelly Belly company who put this out, they manufactured jelly beans to look exactly like their regular ones, only these ones taste awful, and to really involve the imagination, they’ve added names like “Vomit, Moldy Cheese, Dead Fish, Canned Dog Food, Stinky socks”.
It wouldn’t be half as much fun without those names. Those names spark our imagination into imagining how awful it would be to put those things in your mouth. So looking or smelling those jelly beans, there is no way to tell the real ones from the awful ones. The “eater” has to choose to bean and the rest have to guess whether it’s good or bad. Or at least that’s the rules we made up. So the person eating the jelly bean starts out with what initially tastes completely normal, but then may not continue to taste normal. So guess and watching them try to fake it or watch their faces in hope it’s a normal one until they can’t anymore and spit it out? Hilarious and great family fun! I’m not selling the game nor do I have stock in the company, but it is a great example of the nature of surprise and imagination with play.

Here’s another example. On July 4th we were out of town visiting my daughter’s family and we couldn’t find an open restaurant. It happens to also be my husband and my anniversary. So when the grandkids were in my car, I told them the restaurants were all closed because they were all celebrating our anniversary. Instead of being frustrated as we drove to one after another restaurant only to find them closed, the whole experience became funny. We eventually went to the grocery store to buy food. My grandson asked how come the grocery store people weren’t out celebrating our anniversary? I simply explained that we couldn’t make everyone starve just because we all needed to celebrate. He’s 8 and very smart, but he bought it hook, line and sinker! It made the whole day and what could have been frustrating very fun! That along with lots of Fart noises in the car to see who could make the worst sounding one. Got the picture? Your imagination is a tool that’s always with you to help you lighten up!

Not looking forward to work on Monday? Imagine some pranks you could play on co-workers, especially those who irritate you or you don’t like. I didn’t say do them, just imagine what you might do to them will keep you smiling at them! Gotta go on a blind date and you’re terrified? Imagine you’re your mother posing as a single person on a blind date going to check them out before you let them meet your daughter. Go buy one of those Squirrel Busters bird feeders or just watch their video. Wear obviously opposite socks and watch who notices and who tries not to notice because they think you’d be embarrassed. Wear a ridiculous hat. Wear a funny T shirt. My husband likes to wear “I don’t need Google, my wife knows everything”, and “If a man talks in the woods where no one can hear them, is he still wrong?” Get yourself a few of these goofy shirts, it’s a fun way to break the ice wherever you go. Have a “bring your nerf gun to work” day. Make meal time fun by trying chocolate on everything – chicken, salad, cole slaw, whatever. Or salted nuts on everything…, or mustard. Let the kids do face painting on the adults. Break with routines and use your imagination. Laughter is contagious. Laughter is healing. Share!