Four Great Reasons to Get a Game Night Going

 

 

While I make time to play with children as often as possible, I also love to play games with other adults. This is a time to unwind and let out my stored up sass. The benefits of play are well researched, and game night is one way to make sure you get a free booster shot of psycho-emotional wellness. As a teacher I believe we can only reinvent the world when understand the one we’re living in. This applies to the game of life. I’m almost always open to changing the rules of a game to make it more interesting, challenging or fair. I look at this as an important life skill. It’s agency at its highest potency. Like will power, we can store up skill sets and cash in when the time is right. Can I negotiate the salary I really want? How well am I at playing by the rules? What happens when I don’t get what I want? Games teach us about and help us to improve upon the parts of ourselves that we want to strengthen.

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For starters, game time involves communication. It’s a time for discussing rules, finding answers, problem solving and sharing. A new game usually requires careful reading—often out loud—and lots of review. These are core skills that can be useful when we’re proposing ideas at work or presenting to a room full of strangers. Game time is face time. There’s opportunity to try on different roles and experiment with personality.

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Some games require lots of negotiating skills. Interesting dilemmas come up when you play a game like Settlers of Catan: Should you trade with an opponent? What’s a fair trade? Whose resources should you raid? These are difficult choices that have to be made while directly facing the intended person. These are small, but not insignificant, ways of dealing with confrontation. They are opportunities to get comfortable asking for clarification, explaining complicated ideas, sticking to a hard decision or ditching a game plan that’s not working. These are real life negotiating skills that can toughen us up for when it really counts.

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Learning a new game requires patience. When I first started to play Scrabble as an adult, I thought I was a complete idiot. I no longer think that. Achieving a score of 333 points helped boost my confidence. (I still keep the scrap of paper with my winning score in the Scrabble box in case I need to charge my battery.) Scrabble is a word game, yes. But it’s also a game about strategy and knowing how to use the board to maximize points as much as it is an actual measure of the extent of one’s vocabulary. This mirrors real life. Sometimes half of what’s happening is how you’re using what you’ve got. Sometimes it takes time to see the possibilities in life and to actualize them. One doesn’t always win the first time around.

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Let’s not forget the oodles of fun to be had. There’s often a great deal of storytelling, laughter and sharing involved in a game night. Frequently, we partake of a meal together prior to the game and invest time getting to know each other throughout the play. When you play board games, it’s a time to sit around and share memories and see how others respond to setbacks and understand what makes them laugh. There’s also competition, which I think needs a positive outlet. And, if you’re really enjoying yourself, playing games with friends can also lead to higher levels of serotonin and dopamine in your system. You can start out playing a game and end up contributing to your own emotional and social wellness.

 

Start a New Hobby Today! Three Hobbies with High Returns and Low Investments

There are many reasons to start a new hobby. The possibilities are endless, but I’ll make several suggestions and even give you some good reasons to begin now. Most hobbies can have a low-skill threshold with high returns and benefits that can have a lasting impact on the quality of your life. To incentivize you, I’m recommending projects that you can start with just 20 dollars or less. Have you ever considered soap-making, sculpting or flower arrangement? Hobbies let people share their creations and interests with others and can create important “social objects” that can be great conversation starters to keep life interesting.

A new hobby can foster:

  • Community: new friends and people who are involved in your chosen activity; intergenerational transmission of cultural heritage
  • Tranquility and serenity: most hobbies can be done alone or with company; plus, it makes you feel good
  • Challenge and growth: learning and engaging in a hobby can build skills and provide a sense of accomplishment
  • Passion and pride: hobbies can lead to joy, excitement and fulfillment
  • Communication: teaching, learning and sharing are inherent parts of acquiring a new hobby; storytelling is often involved

Hobbies bring people from different cultures together. They’re also a great way to transmit knowledge intergenerationally. And, they’re usually fun. Try one today.

Soap Making: It’s fun and easy to make a basic glycerin soap project; you can start with about $20. Get a basic Kiss Naturals DIY Soap Kit and use supplies that you have at home. Fancy soap molds start at under $2. This is a fun after-school project to do with children of eight years and up. If you like it, you can get fancy and invest in essential oils, coloring and other additives such as flower petals and grains. Make soap as your gifts for Valentine’s Day. Soap is always in fashion.

Organic Glycerine Soap with Shea Butter
Organic Glycerin Soap with Shea Butter

Flower Arrangement: You don’t need to go to school to arrange flowers at home. You can start this hobby for about $20, too. Go to your local thrift store and get 3-4 vases of various sizes and shapes. Stop by any place that sells flowers, and buy 3 packs of flowers (or if you grow flowers, get your clippers out). Try to pick colors or textures that contrast or place single stems. Trader Joe sells bundles that start at $3.99 each. Spend half an hour mixing and matching to fit your vases. Use kitchen scissors to cut stems to length. Arrange the flowers until you’re satisfied. Place each vase in your home or office to brighten up a desk, bathroom sink or an entryway. With a little primping, flowers can last 7-14 days. You’ll be hooked in no time.

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Mixed Bouquet: $15 (plus additional smaller arrangements)

Sculpt: Sculpting has to be one of my favorite hobbies of all time because it’s so easy and fun. It’s inexpensive, too, starting at around $5 for clay. Use molding clay, Play Doh or make your own salty-dough at home (Here’s a recipe: http://fun.familyeducation.com/sculpting/recipes/37041.html).  Get your fingers dirty by feeling the medium in your hands. You don’t need a goal—you don’t even have to make anything. You can simply play with the clay, and put it away when you’re done. You can also make simple shapes such as boxes and circles or a cool incense holder. Have fun, and don’t judge your creations. It’s therapeutic to play with your clay. When you make something silly, whimsical or magical, let it dry and paint it later. Soon you’ll have sculpture all around your house. All your friends will want one.

Have fun, and let me know how it turns out!