Lessons My Dog Taught Me About Play
When was the last time you rode a bike, drew a picture, played cards with friends, swung on a swing, giggled, juggled, bought a yo-yo, walked barefoot on the beach, roasted marshmallows, skipped down the street, wore a silly hat to the grocery store…. ? When was the last time you took a day off just to PLAY?
I have a dog that loves to play, as most animals do. He follows me around with his ball and plays keep-away or hide-and-go-seek. He is a much happier dog on the days I play with him than on others when I’m pressed for time. It’s the same for us humans: we’re happier when we play.
What happens when we play? We laugh. Our troubles recede into the background, and because of the release of endorphins, we feel happier and healthier overall. We are creative, unfettered; we use our energy in a different way and, very importantly, we relax. We give our overactive brains a rest by focusing on something that gives us pleasure and release.
We may have to re-learn how to play by getting in touch with the little kid that is still inside us and wants to come out and play. Many of us adults have tamped down our natural instincts for fun because of the innumerable challenges we have encountered in our lives. I believe that it’s even more important to engage in play as we grow older because there are profound benefits to it.
If you’re a grandparent who has been blocked from seeing or knowing your grandchildren, no doubt you miss playing with them. But you can find other ways to have fun, other people to play with. Pick a day and focus on having fun and sharing laughs with others. Sing along to the music in an elevator, stand on a sidewalk and look up and see how many people also look up. Play. Be lighthearted. Goof off.
My dog loves to play, anytime, with anybody. He likes everyone and is always in the moment, happily wagging his tale, having a blast.
What a great role model.
The opposite of play is not work – it is depression. ~ Dr Stuart Brown