Friday, January 31, 2014

Discovering joyful moments - The Mcfarland Thistle: Columns

Ingrid’s Insights By Ingrid Thompson Senior Outreach Services Director

I made a bold decision. At the turn of the calendar, I decided that my personal theme for 2014 is “Discover Joyful Moments”. I was raised (many years ago) with the Protestant ethic that I need to be productive. So I work all day at my job (which, by the way, I really enjoy) and sometimes into the evening – for meetings. Then I go home and work again.

Unless I have something specific on the calendar to do for fun, my default button is to find yet another project to tackle. I always seem to have a “to do list” which is in a constant state of updating – check off one item, then add another. I don’t typically carve out “play time”.

Researcher Stuart Brown tells us that play (doing something just for fun and not because it’ll achieve a goal) is vital to human development. Brown believes that play is at the core of creativity and innovation. Play can mean solving crossword puzzles, biking, scrapbooking, or golfing; it’s anything that makes us lose track of time and self-consciousness, creating the clearing house where ideas are born.

Play should not be restricted to “vacations”. It can be done throughout your day, or week or month. Write down a list of activities in which you lose yourself. Then schedule a specific time in which you’ll devote to some of those desired activities. Once you engage in those activities, the creativity and balance should transfer into your state of mind when you tackle the other parts of your life.

As is my nature, I’d caution about playing all of the time. I know some people who seem to play so much that they neglect other responsibilities or important people in their lives. They’re self-absorbed in what pleases themselves to the detriment of other parts of their lives. They don’t know how to achieve a balance between the two.

Since I made the decision to find joy, I now actively look for opportunities to do things that are fun. I scan the paper, talk to friends, and turn on my radar for interesting activities which will bring me joyful moments.

It struck me, after reading Brown’s research, that maybe the reason we older folks enjoy grandchildren so much is that when we are with them, we give ourselves permission to play ball, swing on swings, teeter-totter, play in the sand box, play board games, swim, make a snow angel (assuming you can get up off the ground afterwards), and do silly, giggly, playful kinds of things.

Let’s all sprinkle our lives with more fun!