Learn How To Play


If you’re like most people, June makes you think of hammocks, lemonade,
lawn mowers, and vacation. But the reality is, June is the most
stressful month of the year.

That said, how are you going to go about relaxing this summer? Do you
really know how to play? “Americans seem to feel they must always be
doing something; productive,” says Fred P. Piercy, a professor of family
therapy at Purdue University. “But when we carry this attitude over into
our leisure activities, they become as stressful as our work.”

Here are some suggestions on how to leave your work behind at least for
a few hours-and make the most of your free time:

1. Keep work and play separate. Occasionally, it’s impossible: the
Saturday golf game with the boss, dinner with a client. But make those
the exception, not the rule. “Talking shop after work is just another
word for “unpaid overtime.”

2. Find new friends. Doing the same things with the same people can
quickly put you in a rut. Breaking those patterns can open up whole new
areas of enjoyment, leading to fun and relaxation.

3. Don’t turn play into work. One man took up bicycling as a way to
relax. Now he’s tenser than ever as he strives to beat his old times and
set new goals. Learn to stay in the present but play like a child. Have

4. Expand your free-time horizons. Spontaneity is a key ingredient of
play. Set aside one day each month as “free-choice day” and try
something new. “If you don’t enjoy it you’ve risked only a little time
and effort. And if you do enjoy it you’ve gained a lot.”

5. Do what you want, not what you “think” you should do. Many people are
more concerned with being seen at the “in” events rather than enjoying
themselves. Don’t get caught in that trap.

6. God’s Prescription for Joy. The Bible has hundreds of helpful
suggestions for long, happy, and sane living. Here is one of them:

Come, listen to me, my sons,
I will teach you true religion.
‘Tis your desire to live, to live long and be happy?
Then keep your tongue from evil, keep your lips from deceit: shun evil
and do good, seek to be friendly-aim at that.

There you have advice that if followed, would save one from becoming a
censorious whiner. Doing friendly acts to others always develops a
personality that is lovely and fragrant. If tens of thousands in our
institutions today had developed such scriptural attitudes, they would
not be kicking out their last tantrums in asylums and nursing homes.

If these tips will help fill our June with hammocks and lemonade, then
so be it. Your free time is yours, so make the most of it and learn how
to play.

(The above material appeared in a June 3, 1990 issue of Parade

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