Game On!

When Times Are Tough, the Tough Need to Play

EnergyExpress 0519

May 2019 Issue

Energy Express
by Marilynn Preston

Sigmund Freud didn’t get everything right, but here’s one thing he said that has the ring of truth. “In our innermost soul,” the world’s most famous shrink tells us, “we are children and remain so for the rest of our lives.”

Some years earlier, Plato delivered this bit of wisdom: “What then is the right way of living? Life must be lived as play.”

This week—if you can tear yourself away from politicians on TV—I encourage you to locate your inner child and play, play, play. Play is the antidote to confusion, even at the constitutional level. Play lowers our stress and lightens our hearts. It awakens our bodies and renews our energy. From peekaboo to pillow fights to paper airplanes in the park, play brings pleasure, reduces pain and stimulates the brain’s production of endorphins, your body’s way of saying, “All is well.”

Here are some ideas to get you going:

Define family any way you like. Blood relations, of course, but also friends from the office, yoga class or gym, or lifelong pals you never get to see enough of. We have no trouble inviting people to gather for the Super Bowl or to binge watch “Grace and Frankie.” Why not invite family and friends out for an afternoon of play?

I’m setting my game day in my neighborhood park,  but there are dozens of options to consider: a walk in the woods, volleyball or bocce ball, exploring a town you’ve never been to, singing, drumming, tossing a Frisbee. What you do isn’t nearly as important as getting together and doing something.

The something I’m proposing comes out of the old “New Games,” movement which is brilliant at getting people to have fun together. It has no grander purpose. It won’t bring peace to the world—well, not right away. But it can bring peace of mind in the moment, and the moment is all we really have.

This bit of silliness will get your group over their fear of looking like goofballs. It’s simple: Line up with a leader at the front. The leader walks all around, and everyone follows what the leader does. She might walk on her toes, flap her arms, twirl and whirl, scamper like a monkey or hop like a kangaroo. Don’t forget to make sound—and breathe —and after a few minutes, let someone else step up to be leader. Keep moving for at least 10 minutes. Keep a good supply of adult beverages nearby.

Gather the group in a circle. Stand just wide enough apart to fully extend your arms. Give a bouncy round ball (a soccer ball is fine) to the person whose birthday’s coming next. The object is to kick the ball back and forth in the circle without it going past anyone. Everyone in the group has to keep their feet moving. Remind them it’s a game of control and cooperation, not a contest to see who can kick the hardest or farthest. A more skilled group calls for a wider circle; a less skilled group will have more laughs.

> DRESS-UP RELAY. This requires a little bit of preparation. Break the group into teams. For each team, you’ll need a big T-shirt and pair of XXL shorts. The teams line up and the clothes are set down in a spot, some distance away. At “One, two, three: Go!” one member of each team runs to the clothes, puts them on over his clothes, runs back to the team, takes off the extra T-shirt and shorts and hands it over to his teammate, who runs back to the spot, puts on the clothes, runs back to the team, and so on, until everyone has run the relay. If you want to declare a winner, be my guest.

We’re not talking brain science here. We’re creating laughs, giggles, sparks of joy.

We’re taking our inner child out for a day of play, just to see how it feels.

If it doesn’t feel like the weightiness of life has been lifted, it’s time to sell your televisions.

“Everybody needs ... places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
- John Muir -

Marilynn Preston is the author of “Energy Express,” America’s longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book, All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being, is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. For more on personal well-being, visit ©

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