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Happiness, Play And Be Happy

Happiness has been described as an illusion, a warm bath, a bowl of cherries, and many other things by many people throughout time. It is not an abstract concept but there are many descriptions which make the feeling of happiness an individual experience. Since the concepts of happiness are reliant upon the mindsets and emotional states of each person who experiences them, there is a "fuzzy logic" kind of feel to it. Often people attempt to describe their state of mind and body as being directly related to an experience. People say that they are happy for many reasons, and for the most part will attribute those reasons as mirrored expressions of their physical and the emotional state which they experience as a result.
In an attempt to nail down the truth about what "being truly happy" means, it is essential to examine the basic needs that have to be met for people to feel that they have reached this euphoric state of mind. The basic needs of all human beings are water, food, shelter, companionship, and health. If any of these are missing it becomes difficult to maintain a happy disposition. Considering that most of these conditions are met, generally people in the modern world can achieve "happiness" on a regular basis. In considering the state of childhood and infancy, babies and small children according to several studies, smile 62 percent more than their adult counterparts. The rationale as to this deficiency in adult levels of happiness can only mean that at some point people become less happy as they get older. If all of the basic needs are still being met from child to adulthood, one must assume either "something has been taken away" or "something else has been added". In either case in order to change these levels of happiness, something must have "changed" to subsequently reduce smiling capacity by 62 percent. If something got changed, then in theory it can be changed back again!
In people's adult lives, things do change as they get older. Increases in responsibilities and requirements to earn an income, greatly detracts from the leisure of "playtime" that most people experienced as children. The action of aging itself has become a condition that for many reasons adds to a persons unhappiness. The evolution from child to adult and then to parent is a journey of increasing responsibilities and diminishing play time, compounded with a sense of becoming older and less likely to participate in play of any sort. People are living longer but attitudes towards well-being as the population ages are not promoted equally. There are preconceptions regarding "older people who play", but does it have to be this way? Could this increase in responsibilities and accompanying stresses be the reason for the decrease in levels of laughter and happiness? Most likely this is a key reason why most people become "less happy" as they age. They have forgotten how to play. It would seem that the stresses and lack of playtime greatly detracts from a person's ability "to deal with the stresses" they are accumulating as they grow up. As children we could "laugh and forget" about the injustices and mishaps encountered on a daily basis. As adults we don't shed the "feelings of unhappiness" quite so easily.
The solution isn't necessarily to merely take on fewer responsibilities; rather it makes more sense to increase our playtime and "happy state of mind". As small children, the imagination makes up a huge part of our psychological "well-being". The ability to dream up ideas and creatively play with the idea of things used to make our existence more meaningful. As adults we are told often "to grow up and stop behaving like children", perhaps the opposite is what we should be telling each other. While it's true we must take on many more responsibilities, we can still keep some of the key attributes we had as children. Of these, the values of friendship and "fair play", and how to make others laugh are important functions in the transition from our young lives to our maturity. If somehow people could merge the games and imagination used in their youth with the daily requirements of adulthood, perhaps their lives would be happier. Since there are times when play is not recommended, by finding things "we like to do", people can establish hobbies and pastimes that enrich their lives at the end of the work day. Simple things like drawing and pottery or a martial arts class can mean the difference between being able to shed the stresses of the day and "carrying them over" to the next day. Parents can join in more of the games that their children are playing, even if it does take them a while to catch on to the rules! The bonds that this will help to form and the resulting energies exchanged by getting down on their level, will go a long way to promoting a much better perspective on life.
As time passes and the memories of childhood fade, so too does our memory of what it felt like to "laugh out loud" in the very realest sense of the now much over used text abbreviation. Instead of allowing our lives to become chaotic pits of desperate and relentless stresses, we must continue to play our games and laugh with our friends. Barring the loss of the essential basic needs of survival, we must strive to use our imaginations and come up with new ways to truly "enjoy our lives". By pursuing happiness we are extending our journey here, not only for ourselves, but for all who are within earshot of our infectious laughter. Remember the old Chinese proverb, "where there is laughter, happiness likes to be!"
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