A week ago I wrote this at the end of a blog on joy, memories and the brain (see Countdown Reason # 19: Why Emotional Memories of Joy Matter so Much):
“I’m going to think of how to make a joy memory today. I’ll let you know how that works out on an icy, windy Friday evening in a house with with two tired working parents at the end of the week and two teenagers.”
I promised I would let you know how that went.
Confession. It didn’t happen that Friday night. We unexpectedly had a house full of 14-year-old girls (who happen to be naturals at making joy happen). And then the week flew by in a blur of activities, work, events, homework, doctor’s appointments, and all that jazz. But this evening things were comparatively quiet and I asked my daughter if she’d help me get “the guys” (her dad and brother) to join us in a game of Turtle Wushu. We’d come across a video of it online and when we watched it we couldn’t stop laughing.
Laughter is really great for our cells, and laughter is joyful. And a joyful state of mind activates what scientists call the “positive floating brain;” those juicy good chemicals that set out from the brain and travel through our organs and cells, helping to protect us from inflammation. Moreover, it protects us from the “negative floating brain,” that state of Monkey Mind — where our inner chatter raps on about what’s going wrong, what we have to get done, what we’re angry or frustrated about, the things we’re afraid of — causing our brain to send forth a constant slow drip of inflammatory hormones and chemicals.
Okay, here is the video (short at 1:42) on how to play: Turtle Wushu.
(We used small crackers instead of plastic turtles. It was even more fun because the dogs “played” too in hopes of getting the spoils.)
If you have teenagers it can be hard to find a game that everyone wants to play, but we were “all in” at our house for Turtle Wushu. A half hour of chasing, turning, sly maneuvers around the kitchen island, sock sliding across the floor and whirling around the breakfast table, and we were laughing pretty hard. Later, I caught my son and husband playing “Wushu” in the kitchen, just the two of them, laughing.
I got “Wushu-ed” a LOT (aka I kept losing!) so the dogs really stuck by my heels in hopes of getting those flying crackers. But I got something better — a silly and wild half hour with my family, away from homework, dishes, laundry, tomorrow’s to-do list, taxes (argh), and Monkey Brain. And that felt like winning.