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Ask Janice
“If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good” Dr Seuss

What happened to play? Is it a value in our society that is now a four letter word?

Remember those words “go outside and play”? What happened to those words in your life? When was the last time you heard them or said them? Think back to your childhood and recount your most treasured memories of childhood play.  Mixed emotions?   A sort of sadness lays over you.  Is it because we are not playing anymore? Is life too serious?

A lack of play can lead to depression, hostility and the loss of the “thing that makes us human beings.” Play lets you feel happiness, love, healthy and human. It may even make you smarter.

“Play is the beginning of knowledge.” George Dorsey

Play refreshes and stimulates the mind. It can be spontaneous or as part of planned activity. It can be physical or mental but really it should serve no purpose or objective other than pure enjoyment or amusement. A flow occurs and all feels effortless. Nine common elements are found over and over again when one asks the question:  “what do you experience when you are playing?”

  1. There are clear goals every step of the way.
  2. There is immediate feedback on one’s actions.
  3. There is balance between challenges and skills.
  4. Action and awareness are merged.
  5. Distractions are excluded from consciousness.
  6. There is no worry of failure.
  7. Self-consciousness disappears.
  8. The sense of time becomes distorted.
  9. The activity becomes an end in and of itself.

Not Sure How to Play?

Kids seem to know inherently just what to do to have fun, but adults may need a little help. Playing should be simple, fun, easy, and something that’s a regular part of your routine. Above all else, make sure your playtime is enjoyable, and not something that feels like”one more thing to fit into the day.”

I would like you to make a list of those moments of wonder and “fun”. Those moments not fueled by expensive toys or gadgets but the ones found in backyards. In these simple authentic moments not only is joy to be found but profound truths about us and nature and our connection. It has been said that “play has been man’s most useful preoccupation.” Biographies of creative people of the past are full of accounts of long hours they spent sitting by a river, thinking their own thoughts, roaming woods and dreaming dreams. Who can afford this type of leisure time anymore? But I think this lack of sufficient free time (recess), to develop a rich inner life is a large part of the reason there is much frustration and aggression in our society.

So now we are coming up with a formula:

Leisure Time + Play + Fun = Happiness.

Leisure time is a period of time spent out of work and other essential activity. It is time that is recreational and spent doing things that are not necessary. -Play refers to a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities associated with pleasure. It may be amusing, pretend or imaginary interpersonal or intrapersonal. –Fun is enjoyment or pleasurable. –Happiness is a state of mind or feeling characterized by contentment, love, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy.

I have a challenge for all of us! Let’s see what we can stir up this next year? Go find the kid in you (I know it’s there). I propose to a make a New Year’s Resolution right now for 2011. To take time to play!

Here is another challenge for you:

Polar Plunge 2011 is a great way to start your New Year and your resolution to play. Just ask anyone that has done it!!!  Feel free to call me with any questions.

Where: Neahkahnie Beach

When: January 1st 2011

Time: Be there by 11am. Plunge time 11:11am

Playtime leads to optimism, and optimism leads to happiness and happiness leads to love and love leads to….