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Can we play with this?


There is a plethora of evidence that play is critical to our health and wellness at all ages emotionally, cognitively, and physically. I argue that a posture of playfulness is also critical for the health of our relationships.


Here is an example:


My partner, best friend and I decided to all take the dogs for a long walk on a recent late spring morning. Sounds lovely right, except that all three of us humans were in a full blown grumpy mood. We were clearly not following the lead of the very happy dogs, birds, plants and blue sky all around us. I started us out by snapping at something my partner said, then complained about what my friend was doing. They reacted with escalating annoyance. Oh no, a ruined walk perhaps, a lost opportunity for enjoying the small things in life. A spoiling togetherness time.


I thought: how can we play with this?


I suggested we have a grumpy competition. They agreed. I offered that the one rule is that we have to be over the top in our grumpy-complaining performances. Wow was it cathartic and fun. I started us off screaming ‘you always assume what I need without asking, and you walk the older dog too fast and I have to take care of everything' bla bla bla, you get the picture. But mine was not the winning performance, the next one by my friend ‘I'm too tired this morning. I'm tired all the time, I can't stand listening to you!!!!' And the final performance by my partner hit it out of the ball park, ‘I HATE YOU AND HATE EVERYONE and nothing's going right this morning!’.


We all laughed and unanimously voted on the winner of the grumpy competition. The dogs were wondering if treats were involved in this weird ritual. They did get treats at the end of the walk, a walk which ended up being beautiful and joyful.


Can we play with this? A quite serious question to ask as much as you can!


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