Years ago Lowi and I went to see Brené Brown speak at Naropa in Boulder, CO. We were fangirls and did our best to sit in the front row. We had a great weekend with Brené (we like to pretend we know her), and some other friends. During that weekend Brené shared many evocative and powerful nuggets. I know this because randomly things will happen that wiggle one of those nuggets loose into my consciousness and I will think, “Hey, I remember Brené saying….”
This is one of those times. During that weekend seminar she shared the research of Stuart Brown and she posed the question: What do you think the opposite of depression is?
It’s been a few years so I don’t really recall what most answers were but I remember thinking it must be happiness.
What she shared next has stayed with me, at least in my brain. She said Stuart Brown’s research has shown that the opposite of depression is PLAY.
I never forgot it. Unfortunately, up until recently, I didn’t take it seriously. I didn’t appreciate that having fun for no other reason than having fun is vital and integral to our health: mentally, physically and spiritually.
My husband is a major proponent of fun. Even though chronologically he’s older than me he’s way more in touch with his boyhood psyche. He knows how to laugh, have fun and let go of the small stuff and even the big stuff. I’ve been paying attention to him and others like him a lot lately. I watch them (hopefully in a non-creepy way) and see how they engage with life. It seems somewhere along the way I stuck an energetic sock in the mouth of the child version of Angela and asked her to kindly stop talking and also explained that we were done with all that frivolous play.
What a downer, right? Who knew I had gotten so darn serious? Well, it turns out that my inner child, Angie, is every bit as tenacious about her fun as the adult version of me is about work and we’ve been having a little battle of wills. We locked horns for a good long time but it turns out that I was way smarter, more fun and flexible when I was a kid. The only way this battle was going to end was in some sort of peacemaking. And being the adult, I had to learn to let it go and have more unexpected, unplanned fun.
As I mentioned a few months ago, I had gotten back into the habit of cartwheels but more recently what’s really stuck are slides! My husband encourages (and sometimes forces me) to go down every slide we see. In the city I live in, there is a park always within spitting distance so needless to say I have lots of opportunities.
So when I take a walk, when I run by myself, or with John as I come upon a swing, a slide or something I take a “fun break.”
Last Friday, I was running by myself and as I got closer to a playground I smiled and knew I had to go down the slide. When I got to the top I began recording my little adventure. It was intended to just be proof to John that I did, in fact, go down every slide I saw. It turned out to be a little more turbulent and funnier than expected.
Here’s a little montage of that adventure and some others:
Play is scientifically proven to be wonderful for your health. I’ve taken to referring to it as Vitamin L for laughter. And if you don’t believe me, believe Stuart Brown. One of the most profound things I have read from him is: We are designed to be juveniles until we die and that is part of our primate design as Homo sapiens. When we honor that design, we tend to be less violent, more communal and healthier.
This weekend, go outside and play!
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G