2 Replies to “How Did You Play When You Were a Child”

  1. Tom,
    Enjoyed this presentation on resilience in difficult times. You pack a lot into a brief presentation. It sparked several thoughts and memories in me.
    1. Totally agree with the positive impact physical activity has on depression and mood. In therapy I generally “prescribe” that as a non-medical (i.e. non medicine) antidote. Your explanation of the neurophysiology is spot on. It’s amazing how things we’ve known for eons are now validated by science. Parents have been telling their kids to “go out and play” and get some exercise.
    2. A second thing I advise is that the client do something meaningful and/or something fun. It’s hard to stay depressed when engrossed in something interesting and meaningful. It’s hard to stay depressed when one is having fun. As a grandfather, I can usually get my 3 year old grandson, Marty, out of a bad mood by talking nonsense to him. He gets a big smile on his face and says, “You’re silly, Poppa!” (This also works with adults.)
    3. A third thing I advise is for the client to do something for someone else. It doesn’t have to be a big deal…call a friend to check up on them and ask how they are; do a small favor for your spouse or friend, etc. Or do something larger and more involved in some charity or cause. I got involved in a peaceful act of civil disobedience last year, getting myself arrested at a “sit-in” with an interfaith group of clergy at the local government building, protesting the separation of refugee children from their parents on our southern border. I never would have thought that getting arrested would feel so good.

    Lastly…a thought on your advise to remember a game you played as a child. Anthony DeMello, an author and Jesuit priest from India, in his book “Song of the Bird” presents a beautiful short poem called “I chop wood.” In the poem he speaks of a wise holy man who was asked what he does to attain enlightenment. The holy man replies, “I chop wood…I draw water from the well.” DeMello goes on to say that one can cultivate a sense of wonder in anything…a leaf…a drop of water. He ends the poem with this. “Children are so often filled with wonder…that is why they so easily slip into the Kingdom.”
    I see the wonder in my 3 year old grandson when he stops to examine a worm crawling across the side walk. So I stop and we watch the worm for an extended period of time, and I’m thinking of nothing but the worm and how amazing it is. It’s nice to think like a child, feel like a child, and play like a child.
    Phil Hengen

    1. Phil,
      So grateful for your continued involvement in this conversation! Not sure that all of the readers/viewers know how many years you have been conducting individual, marriage and family therapy in the Saint Louis Metropolitan area (not to mention your work preparing people for married life, and your preaching). I hear your comments as coming from a seasoned and wise man.

      In my comments in the episode you referenced, I invited a retrospective look back over the shoulder to contemplate what used to be play as a child and see if it could be drawn into current adult life (with the necessary tweaks). The way I see you extending the conversation is to not simply have a retrospective look at one’s own childhood experience. Rather, I see you inviting me to find a child (in your case, your grandson), and experience life through their eyes! While I don’t yet have any grandkids, I love this idea. I love how you connected looking through a child’s eyes with developing child-like wonder at the small things the way children do.

      Thanks Phil for your input. Especially appreciate your participation in SMC!

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