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Is a Sense of Play the Best Anti-Ager?

What if each of us slowed down a second and started thinking about anti-aging in a new way. What if the choices we make with our attitudes and hearts had more to do with anti-aging than any cream or serum ever could?

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane (farther stroll for some than others) and go back to a time when the fear of aging was the farthest thing from our minds. We were kids. Kids are often only thinking about one thing – “Can I play now?” Maybe that right there is the key to keeping us young.

Play.

Kids play because that is what they are designed to do. Kids want to laugh, build things, run around, dress up, and play make-believe. They are innocent, imaginative, and full of wonder. They see the world as a big, beautiful place full of possibilities.

This is because they haven’t realized yet that the world is ALSO a big, scary place full of heartaches and dangers. And all those vast possibilities? Some of them are flat out terrifying. We know this now because we’ve lived long enough. Time is the ultimate teacher. Once we realize that the world is hard, we so often lose our sense of play and trade it in for responsibility, safety, a guarded heart, practicality, seriousness, hardness, bitterness, and even cynicism.

Naturally, those aren’t the qualities of youth; those are the qualities of an old person. This is what ages us. We try to diligently fix the lines our faces, but what if we changed the lines on our hearts and minds first?

The trouble is we cannot undo what has been done. We cannot erase the difficulties, the pain, the terrible experiences, and loss.   As the Milton wrote, “Innocence, Once Lost, Can Never Be Regained. Darkness, Once Gazed Upon, Can Never Be Lost.”

 So what are we to do?

We must demand our sense of play back. Our imagination. Our laughter and wonder. If the world will offer us negative experiences, we cannot also allow it to take our sense of play. The poet Jack Gilbert wrote, “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.”   Instead of becoming serious and cynical because the world is hard, we can become playful for the same reason – because the world is hard enough already!

We play with make-up

But at the same time, the world is also deliciously good, and it still offers positive, wonderful possibilities. We can adjust our outlooks and attitudes to reflect that truth. It does not mean we forget reality, throw out wisdom, or toss all our responsibilities to the wind. But we change our response to all that the universe hands us: with the good, we celebrate, and with the bad, we choose that stubborn gladness and play anyway.

Maybe the best anti-aging serum does not come in a bottle. Maybe the best anti-ager is play – doing fun things simply because you enjoy them, not because they serve a higher purpose. Laughing because something was funny. Goofing off because it is amusing to do so. Throwing parties with those you love. Dancing. Singing. Making sand castles (or maybe just relaxing in the sand watching kids build sand castles!).

We can bring back our youthful sense of play without losing our experienced sense of wisdom. We can stay soft and sweet while still recognizing that there are very real things in this world that are anything but playful. Maybe our greatest act of rebellion against an often-harsh world is playing anyway.

So, yes, go ahead and buy your cosmetic tonic for youth, and some of our oils are wonderful for this. With frequent use, you will find your skin firming and the appearance of your wrinkles decreasing. But also reach back and find what made you youthful from the very beginning - what made your inner child or inner teen be filled with wonder and excitement. Then do that thing. Play a bit.

                     

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