Make Life Your Playground

Why are children always happy? Because they love to play. When you, I and everyone were kids, we also loved playing all the time. If you know how to play, life itself becomes your playground. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is a happy talent to know how to play.”

Playing isn’t rigid or fixed. It has movement; it ‘wiggles’! You can’t play if you are rigid or fixed in your ideas because playing needs movement in your body as well as your mind. If you are already ‘stuck in a rut’ of routine, if you are house-ridden within the comfort zone of four walls, you are missing out on the best part of life – that is, playing! It takes you away from your sad stories and out of your bad habits. You have to move, to keep going, literally and figuratively, to play!

Even washing dishes can be a playful and joyful activity. Ditto with other housework like making beds, sweeping, dusting, et al! Trouble is, in India, most people are totally dependent on the house-help or maids. I know a couple who has four servants coming to the house daily. Result? Previously, the couple was active and happy. After a period of years, they’ve stopped climbing stairs, going out, driving their car, and today, the couple is almost bed-ridden with several health issues – surviving on doctors, pills and even more domestics!

Did you know that when animals don’t learn to play, they don’t survive? Playing is transformative. It creates a socialization that reaches across generations to encourage, not just survival but friendship. Children know how to play. A child’s delight in playing is so contagious that we want to join in! Remember your school recess? As soon as the bell went off, all the children from the classes would rush and hurl themselves into the compound, bumping, tripping, laughing, giggling, bouncing and shouting with joy!

People of ALL ages, who are young at heart, continue to play through their lives. There will always be playgrounds and recesses, toys and games for any adult who wants to find them. Even our Universe is one big playground and our lives are a series of meetings and partings with various other souls who enter our lives to teach us karmic lessons through joy or unhappiness.

It’s unfortunate when I hear people say “grow up!” or “act your age!” Why?  You could reply, “I’ll NEVER grow up. I’ll retain the playfulness of childhood all through my life. I’ll have the curiosity to question new things in life.” Like children, we should always be ready to try out something new, to develop it, to play with it. Be playful, explore the world and learn. Play practical jokes and invent new things in life to play with. As you grow older, play with art, science, sports, dance or music in the same way you had a desire in childhood to explore new toys, enjoy new games and create new jokes and nicknames for your friends.

Playing is not an indulgence (remember, I told you housework is also play?) Playing is crucial to our mental and physical happiness. Play lifts stress, refreshes and recharges us, restores our optimism, changes our perspective and stimulates our creativity. It makes our brain exercise flexibility and maintain, repair and renew the body and mind. Like art, music and dance, play has its own language. See the difference between two persons, both 80 years of age. The one who is playful will look younger, bursting with energy. The one who can’t play is already dead before his time!

Play is an exercise in self-definition. German philosopher Fredrich Nietzche rightly said, “In every adult person, a child is hidden that wants to play.” To play is better in old age (though I’d like to play AND pray!).

So how can we play? Have a quiz breakfast-morning with friends. Buy a comic or a joke book. Share jokes on a regular basis with friends. Form a group of five or six friends who have a friendly-disposition. Play chess with your neighbour, walk in the rains, have Birthday parties, go for picnics, visit zoos, aquariums, museums, toy-shops, celebrate festivals, go bare-foot – just play and be happy.

We all have this drive to play, to participate in playful activities. Why? Because of our childhood desire to explore new things in life. If you can make life your playground, life becomes a vacation. What’s a vacation? Its’ a chance to recapture our traits of exploration, fun and play. SO, GO PLAY!

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