Mosa, let’s play! I just spent a few days with our grandsons who are ages 3 and 18 months. They have four settings: Play, Eat, Sleep or Cry because we are transitioning between the first three settings.
The older one is starting to make up his own games. We played “Hot Potato” as he called it which was basically alternating pushing a race car at each other as fast as we could. Every single time the car came to him he threw back his head and laughed with his delight just shimmering off of him.
What a life little kids have, just playing and laughing like that. When I’m with them I find myself playing too, laughing more, making up words, games and pretending. It’s contagious.
Stuart Brown M.D. is a medical doctor, psychiatrist, clinical researcher and the founder of the National Institute for Play. (I want to work there!) He writes, play is a basic biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition. When we play we are open to possibility and the sparks of new insights. He defines play as any kind of purposeless, all-consuming, restorative activity. And listen to this part, play is the single most significant factor in determining our success and happiness. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul
What? Really? Wow! Success and happiness are connected to our purposeless, all-consuming, restorative activities. We get to choose what those are. We don’t have to wait for a little child to lead us. We can just start playing more now. We can look at our lives and if we have a play deficit, we can start filling the play bank.
The Bible has been trying to tell us this for a while. Ecclesiastes reminds us that for everything there is a season…including play. (Ecclesiastes 3) The Psalms are filled with reminders to be joyful and sing praises. Psalm 118:24 reminds us this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Proverbs 17:22 tells us that a happy heart is good medicine.
Scientists at Loma Linda University in California have discovered that even anticipating that something is going to be fun or humorous reduces stress hormones and increases positive hormones. You don’t even have to have fun playing…just believe ahead of time that you might!
Maybe you’ve noticed that things in our world, country, churches and family and friendship circles seem a little difficult right now. I can lose sleep and years off my life just scrolling through the latest breaking news. All the more reason to play.
I’m lucky to be able to be coached by a three year old and one year old in happiness, playing and delight. Let’s play, Mosa!
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mosa to Keller and Pace, breast cancer survivor and hot potato champion.
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