Tag Archives: humor

The Playground of the Soul

(Taken from Chapter 12 of Soul Health:  Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

To share laughter is to connect with Soul. ~~ Alison Stormwolf

012Play is a great way to connect with others. Laughing and having fun not only helps us to bond more deeply with other people, but also to enter a deeper understanding and connection with our own soul. Laughter unlocks our resistance and releases inhibitions, thus opening us to close connections that might not arise without this mutual joy.

The soul craves connection. It wants to be understood, heard, and embraced by those who can appreciate and honor it—oneself, especially, but close family and friends as well. Only then can the soul itself play. It wants the freedom to revel in whatever elicits its joy, experiencing every aspect of fun and elation that life has to offer. However, as we all know, there are times when life could not offer less fun. Those are the times when a playful connection with our own soul and others’ is most distant, yet most vital.

Just like any playground, the human condition can create bumps and bruises amidst the fun and laughter. Yet even in the worst of times, it is often our ability to see the humor in our situation that allows us to muddle through it. Finding joy in the midst of darkness allows us to soften the impact of life’s challenges and open us to the possibilities that something good could come from our pain. The key is to understand yourself well enough to know when you need a good dose of fun, or when laughter will be your own best medicine.

Exercise

What is fun to you? Stop right now, and list ten things that you do or could do on a regular basis that would be fun. How difficult is it to create this list? Who do you have the most fun with in your life? How often do you spend time with these people? Who would you invite into your personal playground if you could?

What relaxes you? Stop, and list ten leisure 12 Dec pic2activities that you do on a regular basis. How difficult is it to create this list? Who do you relax with the most? How often do you take time to relax with those who make it easy for you to do so?

Answering these questions will help you to create your soul’s playground. By identifying what and who helps you strengthen your recreational branch of health, and by committing to doing what enhances it, you will give your soul reason to sing. You will also enhance its evolution.

No one can deny that they feel the most radiant and alive when they have had a good dose of pure fun. Our driven culture often dismisses and even denies how important simple joy is to our health, yet the lack of it drives many of our vices and unhealthy behaviors. The reality is, if we tuned into our inner joy more often—regardless of our daily struggles— our soul health would be much brighter. Instead, we keep losing sight of the inner light and are frantically searching for other ways to soothe our discomfort.

What do you need in order to commit to joy?

 

  (To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at          www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

 

Fun, Leisure, and the Soul

(Taken from Chapter 12 of Soul Health:  Aligning with Spirit for Radiant Living)

DSC_0055 one stepResearch shows that people who don’t take time off for vacations are at higher risk for serious health conditions and also shortened life spans.  The Framingham Heart Study, likely the most comprehensive ongoing research on the development of heart disease, has followed twelve thousand men for over a decade to see if there are ways to improve both health and longevity.  The study found that people who took frequent breaks or vacations from work tended to live longer.  A survey done in the state of New York indicated that men who took annual vacations reduced their risk of death by 20 percent, while those who had taken no vacation within the preceding five years had the highest incidence of heart disease than any other men surveyed. The positive impact of leisure time is unquestionably good for mental as well as physical health.  A study of women who took frequent vacations showed that they were less likely to become depressed, anxious, or fatigued, and they also reported less stress at home. Overall, leisure time consistently shows positive enhancement of health.  Not only does time away from everyday stressors allow us to reconnect with ourselves, but there is clear evidence that intentionally planning leisure time into our lives promotes creativity, staves off burnout, recharges our batteries (both physically and mentally), promotes overall well-being, improves higher performance and productivity once back at work, and strengthens the bonds between people outside of work. Fun—our ability to let loose and play— is highly under-rated among adults.  As our responsibilities increase, our pursuit of fun decreases, often drastically.    And the longer we go without this pleasure, the less we seem to think it is a priority.  Even so, how many people do you know who fantasize over working more versus playing more?   It seems that even when we wish for more fun and time to play, we often don’t make a point of creating this in our lives. DSC_6888 Biologically speaking, fun does more than soothe the soul.  When we engage in playful activities, our serotonin level—the substance balanced by a typical antidepressant—boosts instantaneously.  In addition, our stress hormones drop, our endorphins—the natural pain killers—increase, and sometimes adrenaline rises, too, which boosts our energy levels.  If that isn’t enough proof that fun is good for our health, then consider that vicarious enjoyment—just watching others play or laugh—is also enough to boost these chemicals. Laughing at yourself also helps with managing difficult experiences within the human condition.  This self-directed joviality has been shown to lighten our perception of stressful events and allows us to maintain a level of resilience in the midst of life’s battles.  We cannot deny the issues that need work in life, but the research does offer hope for a healthier life when we can think of the events of everyday life as manageable.  In other words, when we find humor in the human condition, we can heal many aspects of our soul health. Despite the positive effect of pure fun and leisure, many people nevertheless either avoid them or think they are unworthy of joy or unable to experience it.  Unfortunately, they often turn to unhealthy substitutes such as alcohol, other drugs, over-spending, sex, gambling, or any other vice that may temporarily numb their stress.  The problem with these substitutes is that they always negatively affect other branches of soul health.  These substitutes for joy further disconnect people from their soul, often while actively damaging the health of other branches.  This can create a vicious cycle; they dig themselves further into the ditch of ill soul health, only to continue seeking false relief through one of their vices. The ability to recognize that your recreational branch of health needs work takes honesty and courage, given that the work may go against what you were taught a child.  If your caregivers were workaholics, overachievers, or simply naysayers about fun, your sense of self-worth may influence you to follow in their footsteps.  If your parents weren’t playful or fun, you may not have learned to integrate it into your own life.  But, no matter what the reason, if you don’t feel you have enough fun and leisure in your life, you probably don’t.

(To read further, purchase Soul Health: Aligning With Spirit for Radiant Living at www.drkatherinetkelly.com, www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com)

A Confession of Fun: How Play Enhances Soul Health

I’m embarrassed to admit what you’re about to read….. I forgot the importance of play. Literally and figuratively.

Sunshine for your soul quoteYears ago, I said that my first book would be about adult play. From early in my life, I observed that the adults around me didn’t have enough fun. They balked at the idea of being goofy, avoided laughing just for the sake of laughing, and undoubtedly worked far more than they played. Somehow we got the idea that we were lazy or irresponsible if we allowed joy into our lives. Instead, we’ve instilled guilt into those who choose to enjoy fun and leisure and came to believe that those who “indulge” in too many joyful activities are behaving badly through such reckless use of time.

This awareness stimulated my mission to write a book about how adults need to have more fun in order to live more radiant lives. I did presentations in graduate school about the importance of play, I bought Play Dough and Slinkys for workshop participants, and I read all of the research I could find on the positive benefit of fun and leisure on our physical and emotional health. I did what I could at the time to illuminate the fact that fun was a key aspect of our everyday experience as humans—one that is healthy and also second nature for anyone experiencing the human condition.

Then I got busy. And I got stressed. Life took over, and throughout the completion of graduate school as well as in the early years of my career, the notion of sending the message of fun got lost… just like in most adults. I forgot my mission.

Branch with border

Even when I was creating my “whole” health model, the fun and leisure branch of  health was overlooked until I had a conversation with a client about the different aspects of wellness. In the middle of the session, it dawned on me that the branch that I had once so strongly endorsed had been swept to the shadows. Right at that moment, I realized why the system felt incomplete, and soon after the final link of the soul’s influence on each aspect of our existence clicked as well.  Our soul—the voice of our inner truth—rules our lives so much that it seemed inadequate to call the model anything other than The Soul Health Model.  Fun completed the model and raised it to the level of evolution instead of remaining an inessential element of the human condition.

Sick Tree aka SoulAFun feeds our soul, and no one can convince me that the healthiest person on earth omits this essential ingredient from their lives. In fact, I would go as far as to say that humor saves lives.  Research is clear that laughter decreases stress, helps us fight illness, improves our outlook on life, and much more. Without the nourishment of fun, our souls can starve, wither, and most definitely lose that radiance that is an inherent right for all of us. But with healthy and frequent doses of this elixir of life, we can remain buoyant even when life tries to dunk us under.

I’m curious—have you forgotten fun? What do you do for to play? What feeds your soul? Are you lacking humor? How do you use laughter to lighten even the heaviest situation? When was the last time you intentionally scheduled fun into your life?

I would love to hear from you and also hear any specific stories of the use of laughter that show the powerful healing that can take place when you have allowed yourself a good dose. Email me at evolve@drkatherinetkelly.com. I plan to compile a list of “reminders” for others who have forgotten their own way down the fun and leisure path.

A Few Screws Loose: Red Mountain, Part III

A sense of humor comes in handy in a lot of situations that could otherwise be uncomfortable and unnerving.  As previously written, my first flight on the way to Red Mountain Resort for my guest speaker gig created a sense of appreciation for life as well as a heightened state of consciousness for how one reacts in situations such as those presented.   (See Potholes in the Sky entry.)  The sense of bargaining between life and death is always sure to raise one’s awareness about where a person has been and where they want their life to go once they can calm their heart rate and get back to a more mundane, yet intentional life.

When flying these days, I pretty much expect that there will be delays or other glitches that will inhibit a 100% worry free day from occurring.  On this particular day, both flights held some excitement, room for expansion of consciousness, and, yes, quite a bit of humor.

screwsSo, after “Potholes in the Sky” experience, I made it to my connecting flight, boarded without issue, buckled up, and sat back after the cabin door was closed, then…….. nothing.  We waited.  And waited.  And after about 25 min, the captain greeted us through the intercom and says “well, we’re sorry for the delay, but the guys down loading the baggage said there are a few screws loose on the plane, so it will b a while before we can leave the gate”.  My attention immediately split into two co-developing thoughts:  1) “Hmmm… after the last flight, I’d rather they notice the loose screws and take care of them before we get in the air.”  (I actually said something to this effect to the couple sitting next to me while chuckling.), and 2) You should never tell a psychologist who sees the world as an existential canvas that there are “a few screws loose on the plane”.

In my world, we all have screws loose.  We wouldn’t be experiencing the human condition if we didn’t all need “tightening up” in one way or another.  I recently used the words “earth school” with someone when explaining that we are all here to learn from our experiences.  He hadn’t heard it put that way, but agreed with the description since he and I see the world through spiritual eyes.

The truth is, the human condition breaks us down—it loosens our foundation, undoes the nuts and bolts that hold us together, jolts and throws us around at times, and pretty much makes our lives wobbly and disheveled.   My job is to help people learn about their vulnerabilities and reconstruct their lives to be stronger, more durable, and less affected by anything else that may happen in the future.  That’s evolution, folks.  Growing beyond the bumps and bruises and tightening our understanding of ourselves, those in our life, the world, and anything beyond.

If we had it all figured out, we wouldn’t have loose screws, we’d be dead.  In other words, as long as you are aware that there are things to work on, you are on the right path.  It’s those who aren’t aware or aren’t interested in learning and growing that concern me the most.  I can’t for the life of me understand how that is a fulfilling way to live.  But perhaps that is a point I need to explore.

toolbox

Our consciousness requires us to explore the loose screws.  Sometimes we even have to remove them, whether they be people, jobs, locations, etc. in order to determine if these are really what we need to secure our path.  If there is no stability that these things provide, it could very well be the case that the loose screws need to be replaced.  Our faulty thinking, biases, familial influences, bad habits, etc. all metaphorically represent loose screws as well.  And yet, many of us maintain bad relationships, unhealthy work environments, and undesirable ways of living rather than replacing or removing these faulty aspects of our lives.

So, I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly inspecting my foundation and structure to see where the weak points are.  I try improve what I can when I can, but I’m also well aware that I need to recheck those nuts and bolts periodically to make sure nothing in life has come loose.  That’s soul health.  And that’s evolution.

It’s a good thing I just bought a new cordless screwdriver.  There’s a lot of work to be done.