Recently I spent a week with my four “sisters” in Orlando, and we played our hearts out. Our average age is 70 but we acted like seven year olds. Actually, it was better than being seven because we had no parents watching over us and limiting our activities. Our mothers were sisters, and growing up we lived in the same neighborhood. As children, we thrived on adventures. The nearby cemetery became our playground to play hide-n-seek and tell scary stories—when we could get away with it.
We look younger than our ages and act younger because the eternal child (Paella) is alive and well within us. (The eternal child is an archetype: In its positive expression, it allows a person to play freely and remain eternally young in body, mind and spirit.) Getting over 10,000 steps in each day was easy as we navigated the Disney World theme parks—all part of the fun and adventure. Three of us still work and one works as a volunteer. We have had our serious health and life challenges and business setbacks but we continue to laugh as we live the grand adventure called life.
The Value of Play
Play is described as an unstructured, social activity for the purpose of having fun. A game of golf or bridge can be played for fun and socialization or to win a competition. The experience is different depending on the purpose. According to Stuart Brown, M.D., author of Play, a little bit of play goes a long way to boost productivity and happiness. In his book, Dr. Brown reveals over 6,000 play histories describing the role of play in childhood and life. When we approach any activity with a playful quality, we are positively affecting our physical health, brain functioning and emotional well-being.
According to the experts, some of the benefits of play are: improved relationships, effective problem solving, greater creativity, deep social connections, mental clarity, more pleasure, feeling young, a positive outlook and less stress.
Adult Play Activities Abound:
- Play mental games with adults or children
- Participate in party games like charades, name that tune, etc
- Play a sport or do some physical activity for fun
- Give or attend a party
- Do something creative – art, music, dance
- Go to a movie, read a book, attend the theater
- Turn a task into play
- Go to the beach, mountains or park
- Be around playful people who know how to have fun and make you laugh
- Do activities with your young children or grandchildren
- Go to a theme park, circus, festival, etc.
When you do something that makes you laugh, puts a smile on your face or just makes you feel good, you are giving voice to the childlike part of yourself. I have been very fortunate to grow up in an extended family in which play and social connection was a way of life. We knew how to party in my large Italian family. I lived across the street from an open field for five years. Once a year the Italian Club had a big “feast” there. The music, games, food, gifts, people and fireworks could be viewed from my front porch.
My childhood was filled with lots of “playful” experiences; so I can easily slip into my inner child today. Can you remember playful experiences from your childhood? The inner child is still alive within you. Bring him/her to life in a more conscious way by planning and doing playful activities that put a smile on your face—some may even be outrageous. The more you play, the more you will feel alive. You will radiate a vitality that will keep you forever young.
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