In the northern hemisphere, January gives us practice in playing even though it’s dark and dreary. This is good practice for living.

It has been a tough month to practice joy “for no apparent reason.” Stomach flu followed by a cold introduced discomfort and pain. When I am in the midst of it, the unpleasantness expands to fill my consciousness. Still, if I remember that joy is an option and smile even though I don’t mean it, my heart lifts and I feel a surge of energy.

This morning I googled “joyful energy” and discovered the work of the late Bernie DeKoven. Bernie was a game designer, author, lecturer and fun theorist. I watched the video with him in action , inviting people out to play. One of the videos he shows his audience includes thumb twiddling, reminding me that a lighthearted spirit can infuse everything I do, even if I’m by myself.

I am in a fair amount of pain today, but I watched the “baby laughing hysterically at ripping paper” video and feel better. I have a feeling I am saying every line of my thinking this month arrives at the same conclusion: Play and laughter are therapeutic.