10 Aggravating Things That Keep You From Playing 2

6. Waiting on the tarmac at Newark Airport. Strapped into a seat in a hollow titanium tube breathing stale air isn’t my idea of fun. I compensate by engaging my seatmates. They have recently included a mountain climber, a soprano, the lead guitarist from Commander Cody, an expert on the writing of Kurt Vonnegut, a funny nine-year-old on her way to see Mickey, and, as it happens, a play therapist!

7. Rain. See “Snow” below.

8. Snow. Living in Western New York has taught me that good weather is overrated. A psychotherapist from sunny Los Angeles once told me that dreary skies are not, per se, discouraging. The psychic enemy, she explained, is sameness. The same, unsurprising, uninterrupted, humdrum, predictable, blasted good weather can contribute to low spirits, too. The tonic? Novelty. My basic advice, rain, snow, or shine—get out in it.

9. Cutting the lawn. You may find the chore as unutterably tedious as I do—100 paces this way behind a noisy mower, another 100 back, and so on—but there’s a cure. Sometimes I cut the grass in a spiral, starting in the middle and working outward. You get an interesting crop-circle effect. Then, too, the neighbors may begin to regard you as eccentric or even creative. Plus, spinning around is fun.

10. Boring people. Say that you’ve been backed into a corner and you’re stuck listening to someone who must tell you about his new sand wedge, how he makes sure to maintain sufficient fiber in his diet, or how he saved on long-term care insurance. What do you do when someone asks, “hot enough for you?” Do you grind tooth enamel? A conversation needn’t be long to be boring. But duration drives up the tedium. I remember overhearing a long-winded customer determined to detail her trip to Radio Shack. The clerk, who’d heard the commercial, came back with “That’s a Tandy Company!” I put some miles on my molars. Yes, I should devise a strategy to manage impatience, and may well find useful advice here at Psychology Today. A friend copes with the intolerably dull by imagining he’s somebody else—a person who’s easily bored witless. Visualizing that low-tolerance person’s exasperation makes him laugh. (Good solution. Alas, though, it won’t work in my case because that exasperated person he imagines? It’s me!)

The opposite of play isn’t work; it’s boredom. When you’re swept over by overpowering indifference, remember that play is your best defense.

Bored stiff or bored silly? Send me your own play list.

6. Waiting on the tarmac at Newark Airport. Strapped into a seat in a hollow titanium tube breathing stale air isn’t my idea of fun. I compensate by engaging my seatmates. They have recently included a mountain climber, a soprano, the lead guitarist from Commander Cody, an expert on the writing of Kurt Vonnegut, a funny nine-year-old on her way to see Mickey, and, as it happens, a play therapist!

7. Rain. See “Snow” below.

8. Snow. Living in Western New York has taught me that good weather is overrated. A psychotherapist from sunny Los Angeles once told me that dreary skies are not, per se, discouraging. The psychic enemy, she explained, is sameness. The same, unsurprising, uninterrupted, humdrum, predictable, blasted good weather can contribute to low spirits, too. The tonic? Novelty. My basic advice, rain, snow, or shine—get out in it.

9. Cutting the lawn. You may find the chore as unutterably tedious as I do—100 paces this way behind a noisy mower, another 100 back, and so on—but there’s a cure. Sometimes I cut the grass in a spiral, starting in the middle and working outward. You get an interesting crop-circle effect. Then, too, the neighbors may begin to regard you as eccentric or even creative. Plus, spinning around is fun.

10. Boring people. Say that you’ve been backed into a corner and you’re stuck listening to someone who must tell you about his new sand wedge, how he makes sure to maintain sufficient fiber in his diet, or how he saved on long-term care insurance. What do you do when someone asks, “hot enough for you?” Do you grind tooth enamel? A conversation needn’t be long to be boring. But duration drives up the tedium. I remember overhearing a long-winded customer determined to detail her trip to Radio Shack. The clerk, who’d heard the commercial, came back with “That’s a Tandy Company!” I put some miles on my molars. Yes, I should devise a strategy to manage impatience, and may well find useful advice here at Psychology Today. A friend copes with the intolerably dull by imagining he’s somebody else—a person who’s easily bored witless. Visualizing that low-tolerance person’s exasperation makes him laugh. (Good solution. Alas, though, it won’t work in my case because that exasperated person he imagines? It’s me!)

The opposite of play isn’t work; it’s boredom. When you’re swept over by overpowering indifference, remember that play is your best defense.

Bored stiff or bored silly? Send me your own play list.

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