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The Merry Month of May: Focusing on Play

May 11, 2016

11200917_10205068095966103_6551643218359250248_n10485997_10202978212280317_3774038956504391750_oThe May Chapter of The Happiness Project “Be Serious about Play” focuses on adding fun to life.
Gretchen Rubin points out that experts define play as any activity that is “very satisfying, has no economic significance, doesn’t create social harm, and doesn’t necessarily lead to praise or recognition.” In fact, she notes, “people who have fun are twenty times as likely to feel happy.”

While play is distinguishable from work, she notes that those who are most fortunate find that what they do in their spare time is not so different from what they do for work.

I’ll confess that I have no problem buying into the value of play. In fact, I have so many ways to play that work tended to cramp my style. Fortunately, since I taught English, reading and writing are two things I most enjoy doing just for fun.  However, my favorite forms of play don’t stop there.

Since I turned fifty, I’ve taken on several new activities. Learning to play the mandolin has been a most rewarding form of play. I can enjoy playing by myself, but I especially enjoy playing music with others. Since a mandolin is much more portable than an upright bass or a piano, I can easily have fun wherever I go.  In North Carolina and now in Nashville, I found plenty of opportunities to play music with others who shared my passion.

One of the best fringe benefits of teaching at the community college was the policy that let teachers take a class free each semester. I took all the art classes I could–starting with Basic Design, and then Photography, Printmaking, and Photoshop. These classes led me to produce work that made their way to exhibit, and they introduced me to a larger circle of friends as well.

I acknowledge that Rubin is right: what is fun for one person is not fun for everyone. I could live forever without movies or television. I can’t go all day Sunday, however, without the crossword puzzle.

I’m most curious to know what others do when you have time for play. What do you do just for fun? Who knows? I might want to try that too.

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