I remember when I was a kid, playtime was what I looked forward to the most. I think that's on par with most kids. But something happens to us as adults where we get indoctrinated into a system where play gets relegated down the priority list. It's not something we intentionally choose, it's a subtle process where a belief is planted and nurtured that play simply isn't important and as the years go on we wonder why we "feel so old."
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said:
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."
This quote hits the nail on the head. Youth is a matter of mind and attitude. I was recently sitting with a friend, who is 62 years old, but he doesn't look 62, he looks younger. He told me, "My face reflects who I am on the inside."
Yes, this is true; he is a playful guy, "young at heart" as they say.
Here is an excerpt from "A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook" that says it all. Read it over a couple times:
"Intention shapes our thoughts and words.
Thoughts and words mold our actions.
Thoughts, words, and actions shape our behaviors.
Behaviors sculpt our bodily expressions.
Bodily expressions fashion our character.
Our character hardens into what we look like."
It has been said that by the time a person is 50, he or she gets the face they deserve. This is how the mind directly affects the body."
The truth is, we're never too old to start playing again. The question is how can we bring more play into our lives?
Here's one thought:
In her book "The Artist's Way", Julia Cameron suggests creating an "artist's date." All this means is that you take two hours a week to do something creative and/or fun that you would normally tell yourself that you don't have time to do. If you are in a city, this could be going to a neighborhood you've wanted to visit, going to a museum, or even going on a hike somewhere that you've wanted to visit.
You can also take it to journal, play the guitar, read poetry, sit in a coffee shop and write, play video games, or start on that art piece you've been putting off because you "just don't have the time." The point is make it time just for you, a time of intentional play that you normally would not give yourself permission to do.
Don't negotiate with your mind that's telling you there's no time, just plan it and do it.
We need to water the seeds of playfulness in our lives. This is what keeps our youth alive and my guess is it also elongates our lives.
Give it a try!
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Adapted from a publication on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy at Psychcentral.com. Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is Co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook. You may also find him at www.drsgoldstein.com.
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