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Embracing Our Passions: The Health Benefits of Play

I would rather die of passion than boredom.

Octave Mouret in Au Bonheur des Dames by Émile Zola

Happy New Year!

As 2018 unfolds, I wish everyone health, joy and prosperity.

The last year for me was a transformative one, filled with travel, new friendships, and assorted challenges. Two pivotal moments stood out – one was waiting for biopsy results and the other was performing stand-up comedy for the first time. Thankfully, as it turned out, both had happy outcomes and lessons to impart.

My health scare squarely put life into perspective, and reinforced for me what was, and was not important. Life is short. Yes, it’s a cliché. But it’s true. Now and then, we all need reminders to stop plodding and focus on what gives our life meaning and bliss. For me, it’s about navigating towards my creative self, cultivating my love for making art and music, learning qigong and exploring new joys like storytelling and stand-up.

Learning stand-up (not for the faint-hearted), was an experience that was equal parts terrifying, giddy, and freeing and I loved and hated the fact that it wasn’t easy. It revealed my strengths and limitations. It taught me to laugh at myself. It inspired me to be brave, to be curious. It reminded me that creative play was essential for my own health and well-being.

Making time in our daily life to engage in play or nurture individual passions is as important for our overall wellness as sleep, nutrition, and exercise. According to research, participating in leisure activities or hobbies has a wide range of health benefits. Individuals engaged in leisure are more positive, more engaged, less stressed, and have better heart health than when not. Additionally, a Japanese study investigating the impact of leisure versus social activities on the mental health of middle-aged adults singled out “hobbies or cultural activities” as having the greatest mental health benefits.

We can all benefit from embracing our passions. Are you ready to play?

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