Importance of Play and Challenging Oneself

In my last blog, I talked about the importance of playing and the spirit of play. This is life- from play, new beginnings arise and come to life!
Scientific research is showing that play and challenging oneself over extended periods of time creates new neural pathways in the brain, bypassing old set ways of thinking, thoughts, and mechanics of doing things. Not that anything is wrong with the old ways, but sometimes these are the, “But, we’ve always done it this way,” and “Everybody knows,” type of things that can prevent a person from seeking and enjoying the gifts that being alive offers.
A few months ago we attended a lecture at the Mesa Art Center hosted by The National Geographic. The lecturer was the researcher and author of the Blue Zones book. Very interesting stuff. He tried to find commonalities amongst people who lived to be 100 or so. He gave a number of reasons, but really these people never stopped playing- finding and creating things to be interested in and overcome. They had things to do, challenges, friends, family and a sense of belonging to a community- things and others mattered to them and they did something about it. That’s the game, or at least a type of game- someone or something mattering more to you than yourself and then doing something about it. One fellow mentioned in the lecture migrated to the US from Greece, lived here and became very ill. He returned to Greece to die, but in his own words got so busy gardening, and being a part of others’ lives that he forgot to die! He’s now in his mid-90’s.
My mom is nearly 80 years old and teaches sewing and decorating classes. My grandfather when in his mid-80’s did all the grocery shopping for the Meals on Wheels program in his community. He lived to be 97.
You know, there are a lot of anti-aging schemes and protocols. I guess that 50 is now the new 40, and 30 the new 20, and perhaps 10 is the new embryo- who knows,  but really the best way is to keep playing this game called life- create life and you’ll have a life.
Dr. Diane and I have been watching a lot of Twilight Zone reruns. One in particular called, “Kick the Can” season 3, episode 125 really stands out. If you don’t have Netflix, you can watch it in part on YouTube. Either way, these old timers- probably in their 50’s, are sitting around on a veranda at a rest home. Some kids are playing Kick the Can. A few of the oldsters yell at the kids, but one, in particular, gets the idea that the reason he and all of the other old-timers are sitting around is that they quit playing. So he tells his friends about this and they sneak out one night and start playing Kick the Can. I won’t wreck it, but suffice it to say- they didn’t go back to the rest home!
I can’t encourage people enough to get out there and try new things, or at least do old things a new way. Keep creating life and livingness- this is the thing that everyone wants- life and to live. It’s why they come to see me, go to work, exercise, garden, go to church, join groups, travel, learn new things, get married, have kids- push the envelop! After an injury or an illness people always want to know, “What will become of me?”
What do you want to become of you? Well…then put it out there and go for it. Only you can create the future that will be your tomorrow.
I am certainly on your team, and rooting for you to make the most fun playing you have ever played!
Best wishes to you, and I’ll see you out on the field!
Dr. Dave!