Sunday, July 12, 2009

Plays Well With Others


"Life is Mysterious
Don't Take it Serious
"
(quote on an old rubber stamp)
In several of these blogs, I've talked about the inevitability of suffering.
Enough of that. Let's talk about the power of playfulness.

You may have heard the expression that "Kid's play is kid's work." Play is where kids learn to deal with roles and other people, fine tune communicating their ideas and needs, exercise their bodies and widen their imaginations. Why would we want to give that up as adults? Yet many groan-ups (yes, that was deliberate) see life as one unending have-to-do list. I'm not advocating shirking responsibilities, though I am admittedly expert at it. I'm encouraging righting priorities. Play, laughter, positive thinking, joy have their own rafts of research supporting the idea that a good time is good for you. Laughter really IS good medicine-- it reduces stress hormones that havoc the body and soul. Researchers in Loma Linda found cortisol and epinephrine levels drop, while human growth hormones and beta-endorphins rise when people experience, or even anticipate big fun. Other research shows laughter improves relationships, immunity, increases oxygenation, is cardioprotective, and helps us be more alert and creative.

At least twice a year, I go away to play with my pals at WAR (women's art retreat), where we hold theme dinners in dress up (wedding in Vegas, Beauty Pageant, Circus Night) and write ridiculous bits. For years I participated in an on-line salon where we exchanged thematic haikus, limericks, tom swifties and wrote bad country songs. There's lots of ways to make the ridiculous sublime. A few minutes a day softens the heart and sharpens the brain.

A few links for you:
Laughing Yoga
Laughing Yoga was started by a physician in India who to promote the healing benefits of laughter for the body and soul. Here John Cleese provides a 3 minute intro to the practice.

Global Belly Laugh Day
We're a few months off from the official Day (Jan. 24th), but we can start practicing. This site is also offers a wealth of research and related links.

Positivity research and tools for its practice can be found at Dr. Segilman's site on Authentic Happiness

Want to shop local in Corvallis?
Our own Happy Guru Jean Bonifas offers Right-Brain Fitness and more and is a member of the World Laughter Tour

Even if all the movies that week are dramas or documentaries, a look around the eclectic decor at Darkside Cinema holds grins for most of us. While you're there, pick up one of owner Paul Turner's books of essays or a Prancing Lavender Bunny T-shirt sporting one bad-ass buff biker bunny.

Grassroots Books has the latest McSweeney's collection of public weirdness, humorist/scientist Mary Roach's sex research book "BONK" and other sources of inspiration.

Dancing like a maniac always cheers me up, and there are plenty of opportunities at River Rhythms, contra dances, and our summer festivals (Cherry Poppin' Daddies this Friday!).

And don't forget next week's daVinci Days! The Saturday morning kinetic sculpture parade always brings smiles.

Watch the website for announcements about a Play Weekend during the dark days of winter. We'll need it.

Now, go out there and don't come back until you've had some fun.

Yrs,
Jana

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