Leisure Time

There is a current trend in American society to always be Busy and Productive. Our leisure time has turned into something that must be parceled out and structured. Ballet lessons, music lessons-everything must have a purpose. In this, I would like for you to look at children in their natural play state.

When a child is told to go outside and play, without toys or other stimulus, they will create an environment rich with imagination. They will find sticks, build forts, play with frogs, dogs, cats, each other. They will play with whatever is available and in doing so, they are literally shaping their world. A shady nook under the tree becomes rebel command. The grass becomes lava. The dog, a vicious pirate looking to steal their gold (ice cream).

As adults, we are deprived of this. We are told, over and over, that we must Act Adult. Be grown up. Don’t be a child. Stop being silly. Be serious. Sit up straight. Don’t be stupid, and you know? It changes who and what we are. We are expected to not do anything that is not productive, or not good at simply for the joy of doing it. That’s ridiculous.

As humans, we are primitive, in many ways. We are still animals, still primates, still mammals and our psychology requires us to play. We learn while we play. We form relationships while we play. We solve problems while we play.

Creative play and unstructured leisure time are not simply for children. It is a positive, joyful experience for adults, too!

Humans are not built to be on a time schedule. That is the social conditioning we have set for ourselves. At work by 8, lunch at 11, home by 7. Then dinner and dishes and bed. Rinse, repeat for the majority of a week and voila, we remove ourselves from our best possible, most positive life experiences.

It is vitally important to allow ourselves play time. Play time can be almost anything. Riding bikes, baking cookies, doing art, gardening, reading a book, even sex. It needs to be unstructured and open to the full experience without the qualifications of any purpose other than “I want to.” Having imaginative play, world building, being silly-these things keep the mind healthy, increase a positive outlook and a much happier life over all.

The Environment

Your environment shapes your thoughts and those thoughts shape your body and perceptions of the world around you. The world itself is temporary and in flux. Reality isn’t exactly as we think it is and it is not absolute. When we pick up a coffee cup, it feels like it has a beginning and an end. A weight, a texture, a color, a temperature. Our bodies see this as being absolute-but in fact, on a minute level, once we touch the coffee cup, some of the molecules interchange with the cup. On a cellular level, there is no barrier. We are everything and everything is us.

There are things in our physical realm that are beginnings and endings in a sense. They can cause a great deal of stress and alarm, but are cyclical, as are all things.

I’d like to use a storm as an example of this perceptive shift, how we can change our selves and our environment to make things more positive.

I am deeply, deeply terrified of tornadoes. I was in one several years go, in Moore. I’m sure you probably heard about it on the news. It was horrifically terrifying (and ironically one of the reasons, I began Positivity.)

Whenever the sky gets dark, I start to get scared and the what if, maybe if comments start in my head. I begin to relive the events over in my head, all the things I could NOT control. The storm ,the way it ripped apart our house, the ugly aftermath of insurance and rebuilding. The way everything reminded me of the moments before, the gross, ugly fear of death and harm.

Instead of seeing these storms as a sudden, destructive, one time thing, I began trying to see them as a normal, cyclical part of nature. These things have been occurring outside my physical self for, we presume, millions of years. It is not something I can control or even have to like.

I can however, be grateful for the moisture, the way the wind carries seeds to replant the grasses, trees and flowers, the beauty of the wild nature of the storm and yes, even for having to rebuild my home.

I can also decide to control what I can and leave the rest alone. Shortly after the tornado, we put in a storm shelter. I did careful research and decided that a garage storm shelter was the best possible choice for us. Having that in my home made me feel positive, as I know that if we are home when the storm hits, we will be prepared, safe and ready. Even if my home is destroyed again, my family and dogs will be safe. This is an important part of Positivity-to control the things I can, prepare for things I cannot and accept that these things are part of life as we humans know it.

The changes in our home regarding my fear of storms were subtle-I now enjoy it a little bit. I accept the dark part of the storm in order to make peace with it in my life. It is this way with all things.

When something in your environment, like a storm, makes you scared or angry, you must find things to be positive about. You must find things that are good about it, things you can do to minimize the stress, and ways to make room in your life for it, without allowing destruction. Or, in the case of a tornado, understand that destruction is a possibility, but that with every thing that is destroyed, something else is created.