Don’t Forget to Play!

wpid-tumblr_lx1rhfonw31r13lu8o1_500Don’t forget to play, it is so important. More than anything we do in life, this will keep us going. First, let me make one thing clear though, this is not about tennis, golf, shuffleboard or any other sport. I don’t sweat on purpose, so you can understand. Neither is this about bridge, which I play and love and consider a mental sport. Those are wonderful for our physical and mental health, but that is another post. What I am talking about is emotional health. I found this definition:

Emotional health is defined by the degree to which you feel emotionally secure and relaxed in everyday life. An emotionally healthy person has a relaxed body, an open mind and an open heart” Dr. Doris Jeanette, PsyD

Emotional health is imperative to live a good and healthy and happy life. It is what balances everything else, what truly makes us who we are. So pay attention.

George Bernard Shaw once said that we don’t stop playing because we become old, we become old because we stop playing. Words of wisdom, indeed. Retaining your playfulness is the secret of longevity. It’s been proven.

We all remember our grandparents, old aunts, family friends and such. While growing up, they seemed ancient, but not all of them. Some had a twinkle in their eyes, a laugh that sounded clear and joyful. They could tell a funny story, go down on the floor to be closer to us, join in our games, play practical jokes and knew the secret of making us believe in fun!! We want to be like them, right? I know I do!

Have you seen older couples holding hands while they laugh at some private joke? You cannot help but wonder about their obvious happiness. Have you seen a group of mature women shopping, trying on clothes, make-up, shoes? They absolutely glow and look so much younger than they are. They have not forgotten to play!

We need to remember that keeping a young heart is indeed a way to keep ourselves young. Playing is not something only children do: playing is the secret of the Fountain of Youth. Ponce de Leon should have been more inclined to be playful, his quest would have not taken him so far from home.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy since society tends to look at playfulness after a certain age with stern eyes. Never mind the belief that age has to be dignified...whatever that means. We confuse growing older with being stern and straight-laced. So many of us are old before our time, caring too much about what would people think. What nonsense! Play, joke, enjoy every moment and show the world that you do.

I have always had a silly sense of humor. I can walk into a store and try on the hats, the strange shawls, the weirdest shoes…making whoever is with me laugh hysterically. I come up with silly songs for my children and sing them without any embarrassment. I break into a small dance when I wait for the elevator.

SeaGrapesI love walking around the small island where I live, listening to music and I have been known to do some quick dancing steps!  I tend to stop to  inspect the sea grape trees looking to see if  their small tart fruit are ready to be picked. Nobody even pays attention to these beautiful trees, but I love them. They are funny looking, sturdy, with glossy round leaves. The fruit is delicious!

Of course I get strange looks. I cannot be bothered, feeling good about myself is what counts. I am sure you have different ways to have fun, silly and fun for the heck of it, fun.  Go ahead, give yourself the freedom to play! Don’t let fear of what people might think stop you. When we loose the ability to be playful, our curiosity or zest for life: then we become old. Remember: you are as old as you think or as old as you remember. Can you resist a swing? the feel of the wind in your face? the little scary feeling when you go really high? Don’t forget to play!!!