good life – by stacy julian
Part of cultivating a good life is by finding time to play.
Addie: Mom, can I jump in that puddle?
Finding a little play everyday is one of the intentions I set for myself in 2014. After several months of practicing play, I’m convinced (again) that it has everything to do with cultivating a good life. I’m thrilled that Becky has invited me to share some of my thoughts on play with you today.
“Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.” Dr. Stuart Brown, a contemporary psychiatrist wrote this in his book, appropriately entitled, Play. Here are a few additional things smart people have said about play …
Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.
Diane Ackerman, American author
Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.
Abraham Maslow, American psychologist
Play is training for the unexpected.
Marc Bekoff, American biologist
I have always been a playful person, drawn to color, music and activity that might strike other adults as juvenile. In fact, my first blog was titled, “Altogether Too Happy” because that is how my friend’s husband described me. A sense of childlike wonder and curiosity has been in my nature from the beginning, but several years ago I began what has become a five-year struggle for physical and mental health, and I began to lose my interest and enthusiasm for most of my go-to strategies that invited light-heartedness into my soul.
I am studying and learning and making changes and growing, but there are days when I have felt I didn’t deserve to play because I didn’t feel like playing. Trust me when I say that choosing not to play is NOT the right thing to do. In fact, science now understands that work is not the opposite of play; depression is. As our world grows ever more complex and uncertain, there is much to worry about and much that will induce stress and fear. In his studies, Dr. Brown has learned that play allows us to develop alternatives to violence and despair; it helps us learn perseverance and gain optimism. I believe that playful imagination, far from frivolous is the very difference between someone who is book smart and someone who exhibits true emotional intelligence and the ability to function and remain flexible in a rapidly changing world.
And the good news, play doesn’t take a lot of time or money! We are now at the brink of summer, when we likely have more time with our children at home and while we love the idea of less structure in our routines, we might also feel a sense of panic around the task of keeping young people entertained or at least engaged. We might fall into the trap of believing that we need to plan exciting daytrips and experiences; that we need to take them to theme parks, sports centers and swimming pools so they can play—and certainly these destinations are anticipated and fun—but play is easier than that and it’s quick, inexpensive, and available anytime.
I’ve compiled a short list of playful ideas and activities below and I’m issuing a challenge that you try at least three this coming week, kids or no kids.
- Skip. Outside, preferably holding someone’s hand.
- Get wet, on purpose. Just look for a sprinkler and go for it.
- Eat something yummy (ice cream, pudding, yogurt) with a baby spoon.
- Peel a blueberry. Never done that, have you? Better yet, host a blueberry peeling contest.
- Paint something. Anything.
- Google “photo scavenger hunt” and then go on one.
- Make a decision using a daisy. Pluck the petals one by one and instead of saying, “he loves me; he loves me not” say, “option A, option B” until you have your decision.
- Take a penny walk. When you get to a corner or intersection, flip your penny. Heads turn right and tails go left.
- Talk in an accent or sing a reply to someone’s question.
- Invite your friend or family to lie flat on the ground (or grass) and look up. Breathe deeply, share one thing you each notice and then get up.
This week, try inserting some play into your day and see the difference it makes. I think you’ll find, like I have, that your ability to feel open and light is enhanced and your desire to make time for other people, places, and things you love is increased.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.”
Note from Becky
I’ve known Stacy for about … oh, about 17 years I think? A long time. We met because of scrapbooking and that is absolutely still a common point for both of us. We’re both very passionate about helping others with their quest to document life and both of our individual journeys led to us running our own respective businesses. The fun part is that our paths have crossed here & there over the years and I have even had the opportunity to teach at BigPictureClasses.com (that’s Stacy’s baby) a couple of times.
Anyone who knows Stacy knows that playfulness really is part of her character. So is kindness, charity, service, humility, and hard work. She has personally influenced countless people (including me and many of you!) for good and I am so grateful for that.