Reality Check: Play and Learn

In Choice Theory, Dr. Glasser connects learning with the human need for fun. He described fun as the reward that we get when we learn something. Think about the joy of figuring something out for the first time. It’s delightful to realize we have learned; that we can now do something that we couldn’t do before.
Glasser suggests that we are descended from ancestors who were able to adapt and learn. Learning provides a survival advantage.
Those who didn’t learn from the helpful cues in their environment that indicated danger, food sources, or companionship were perhaps not so likely to procreate as those who were more effective learners.
The ability to learn continues to provide advantages today.
The joy of learning need not be limited to those who can afford expensive educational aids or experiences. Many opportunities to learn are available for free or for very little cost; what it really takes is enthusiasm and curiosity.
For example, whether you live in a rural or an urban area, the whole environment can be your playground. Take a walk in the woods or a walk in the park. Take someone with you, perhaps your child, grandchild, spouse, or friend.
Approach the walk as a deliberate learning experience. Maybe you’d like to learn/teach how to identify the trees, the birds, the plants, the mosses, the mushrooms. All kinds of things become more interesting and more meaningful as you learn more about them.
How to learn? The internet, should you choose to use it, can be a helpful resource. But as useful as that is, it’s not the only way. The library is full of books that are free to use and full of people who are happy to help you find them.
There are so many possibilities that can spark curiosity and creativity. Consider finding some old mechanical objects at yard sales or new-to-you stores. Get some small tools. Take stuff apart. Put it back together. Explore. Play. Make your own fun. Whether the result works or not, you’ll learn something.
Needless to say, this can be fun for both boys and girls, for youngsters and for older folks. Curiosity and play has no limits.
The key is to look—not for what you don’t have—but for what you do have. Look for opportunities for learning and fun that are in your environment. Be curious. Seek them out. Make it a game.
There are, and will always be, things that go wrong in life. Machines fail, disappointments abound, and people behave badly. We may have little or no control over all of that.
However, we do have choices in how we respond to those events. One set of choices includes anger and resentment, perhaps accompanied by the thought that bad things only happen to us.
Another way to respond, however, is with curiosity.
If you focus on developing a mindset that is consistent with curiosity and learning, when something goes wrong (or right) you may find yourself thinking, “I wonder how that works.” Or “I wonder what’s inside that.” Or literally, “I wonder what makes that tick!”
When you look through a lens of curiosity, it’s easier to be less judgmental. It’s aggravating when the car won’t start or the printer won’t print. However, rather than fuming that inanimate objects are out to get you, try asking, “I wonder why that happened?”
Similarly, if you are fretting over the news or cranky about how people are behaving, try an attitude of curiosity. That is, you could say (to yourself), “Isn’t that curious!” Explore the event from the perspective that it’s something new to learn, rather than an aggravation specifically created to annoy you.
See what happens. And of course, I’m curious about what you learn

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