When was the last time you spent time just watching children play? When was the last time you played? Really played? Like pumping your legs as hard as you could to swing as high as possible? Like going down a slide with your hands held high above your head? How about the last time you ran down the street just because you felt like it?
I looked up the definition of “play” on the internet and found the following: Bing: to engage in enjoyable activities: to take part in an enjoyable activity, especially a game, simply for the sake of amusement. Wikipedia: a term employed in psychology and ethology to describe a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment.
Children play not because they are told to “go outside and play”, but because they “have to”. They need to run, to jump, to chase other kids, to laugh and to yell. This need is part of their soul. It is hard wired into their DNA. A child’s healthy development is in part dependent upon what they learn through play…how to get along with other people; how exercise can result in feeling good; how movement of any kind helps to release tension; and how to just plain have fun.
I have always been a person who spends long hours each day working on numerous “important” tasks; or so I thought. About twenty-five years ago, a dear friend of mine who was diagnosed with bone cancer and passed away three weeks later gave me the following advice. She said that no matter how much work you think you have to finish each day, do not forget to play! I have remembered this advice many times over the past twenty-five years when I find myself running in too many directions at once. When this happens, I stop, look around and take a deep breath and decide what I am going to do to play. Sometimes it is a walk in the woods, sometimes it is going to see a movie on a weekday afternoon, or maybe a trip to the local coffee shop to sit, read a book and have a cup of coffee.
The next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, stop and watch children playing in the park or at the playground. Observe how carefree and uninhibited they are as they run, jump, yell and laugh. Spend some time sitting in the sun and just watch and listen. And while you are there, decide what you are going to do when you go out and play.
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