Saturday, February 22, 2014

40 Pieces of Advice Challenge - Day 6

Do you think that playing games is just for kids? Or that, even if you wanted to, you couldn't possibly find time in your busy schedule for something as trivial as a game?

You may want to reconsider. 

Playing games is fun.

OK, seems pretty obvious. We all have our preferences. Whether you favor more physical games like tennis or softball, or you're more of a Scrabble or chess player, there's at least one game that gives you a feeling of joy and freedom from everyday concerns. And in today's world of constant busy-ness, we seem to have forgotten the need to regularly unplug and replenish our mental and spiritual energy. In fact, we have subverted this need for rest by indulging in the equivalent of junk food for the mind - we become nightly zombies in front of our TVs and computers, we lose ourselves in our smart phones and tablets . But do these activities actually do us any real good? Do we feel rejuvenated and renewed after yet another evening on the couch, with our eyes glazing over while staring at a screen that doesn't know or care that we are in the room?

Wouldn't it be better if we turned off the TV, put our phones away and reached out to an actual human in a friendly game as simple as hangman or more mentally challenging like chess? What if we actually got a group of friends together and spent a few hours shouting, laughing and getting our hearts pumping by engaging in a few rounds of charades or Pictionary? 

Playing games builds relationships.

Your child comes home, goes to the fridge, grabs a snack and heads to his room. You call after him, "How was school?" You're lucky to get a "Fine" before hearing his bedroom door shut. Sound familiar? What if you asked him to go out and shoot some hoops or throw a ball back and forth? Do you think that the shared fun activity would open up more lines of communication? When was the last time that you spent a few hours playing games with your children? 

Maybe you don't have kids, and your life seems to be an endless loop of going to work, coming home and getting chores done on weekends. How about breaking up the monotony and making new friends by joining a bowling league or an adult dodgeball team?

Playing games keeps you young at heart (and at mind).

Increasingly, studies are showing that certain games, specifically ones that challenge the mind, may protect us from age-related afflictions like dementia. And, it is now well known that isolation, which increases in our society as we get older, is a major contributor to declining health. One great way to get mental stimulation while also building a community is to play bridge. This article by Matthew Solan explains not only why bridge is an ideal game, but also gives many valuable resources for learning to play it, as well as listing some pretty surprising fans of the game. 

Playing games is a wonderful way to blow off steam, reconnect to the carefree child within, stay healthy and build supportive communities. So, go out there, find a new game or rediscover one you haven't played in years, have fun and reap the rewards in all aspects of your life! What game will you play this day?

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