31 December 2018


by Troy Cady

I made my first conscious connection about the importance of thresholds in my early thirties when I worked with children from time to time. I was fascinated how the simple act of inviting a child to “get ready” for what they were about to experience in the next room had an incredible effect on the quality of their experience during the hour in question.

Yesterday, in fact, I had the privilege of being with a group of eight children between the ages of four and twelve. The focus of our time was to hear a Scripture story and “wonder” about it—or rather, to wonder about our place in it. Really, the whole time together is to be characterized by wonder. Because this posture of wondering is so all-encompassing, preparing to wonder is crucial. We call it “getting ready” and yesterday the children got “ready” before they even entered the room. Standing in the hallway outside the room, a helper blessed them with the gift of peace through saying, “The peace of Christ be with you.” Then, the helper asked each one, “Are you ready?”

When the child is “ready”, they enter one at a time and form a circle. Each one waits until the entire circle is formed as the others enter and eventually we hear the story in a spirit of wonder.

Some people think of this process as just another way to get children to behave, but we really do it as a way to honor the child’s own agency. Nobody can be forced to be “ready.” It is something only one can do for one’s own self, not for somebody else. Asking the question whether a child is ready gives the child a chance to be in touch with their own thoughts and feelings, to really consider: “Am I ready?”

Sometimes, the child knows they are not ready, so they answer, “No.” Then, they are given time, the grace and space to “get ready.”

In all my years (about 15 years now) of practicing this readiness ritual, I have yet to meet a child who did NOT want to “get ready.” Anticipation seems to be built-in to us, at least when we are young. Perhaps that is something we lose as we get older, if we get set in our ways and become suspicious of new experiences.


More than simply cutting us off from the old, “being ready” to cross the various thresholds of our lives helps us consider how the spaces from which we’ve come factor into the new spaces we’re entering.

It’s a mystery. One does not simply leave one’s old self behind when entering a new space, but nor is one chained to one’s old way of being when entering the new space. If we continue to practice this kind of ready openness, we are always at one and the same time who we’ve always been (the same) and new, changed, different. I like to think of it as a process of becoming more truly yourself.


Photo by Ronaldo de Oliveira on Unsplash
Openness is a good word to describe what it means to be ready to cross thresholds and inhabit any given space in a spirit of wonder. Indeed, those who regularly practice mindfulness or meditation as a conscious discipline will tell you that their spiritual and emotional exercise is predicated on their openness to be open.

It just so happens that as we cross the threshold into a new year, Christians are in the midst of the observance of the twelve days of Christmas—another threshold event that is all about openness. I marvel at how open-hearted God showed himself to be by becoming an infant. It’s a mystery how God chose to be acted upon, put himself at the mercy of our mercy.

To be open is to be moldable, shapeable. By becoming a child, God made himself available to be molded and shaped by people—parents and neighbors, teachers and laborers, friends and enemies. Jesus was no static individual. As he aged, he changed. There was both give and take in the relationships he shared. He inherited the traditions of his people, and we can be sure those traditions shaped who he was. And those traditions had even evolved over the years. In Jesus’ lifetime there was no small measure of religious creativity and spiritual flux to be found as different schools of thought rubbed up against each other and responded in kind. We tend to think of the religious environment of Jesus’ day as too fixed, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was a time of dynamic theological questioning.

And it was the radical openness of the nativity that inaugurated God’s new process of “becoming.” During Christmas we remember that God crossed the threshold between heaven and earth to inhabit the spaces of our world in a new way. The divine became human and “made his dwelling among us” by making the greatest crossing of all time. In so doing, he invites us to wonder whether the line between heaven and earth is not as big as we previously imagined. Indeed, the more we are in touch with the real world in which we live, the more we realize how thin the line is between the so-called “sacred” and “secular.” Because of this, Christmas is more than a time when we remember a historical event; it is an invitation to us, in fact, to make the same crossing he did. It is the past made present—and it is a present creativity that makes for a hopeful future.

Openness is a posture of childhood. It is a mindset that knows intuitively we have not arrived, there is still much to become. It is a looking, an anticipation, an enduring hope. During the Christmas season, as we cross the threshold into a new year, there is one gift we are all invited to open that will keep on giving: it is the gift of openness.


When you enter a new space the only light you have is the light you have been given. Sometimes that light feels a little less than the light from the space you’ve left and sometimes that light feels a little more.

I have a confession to make: I often look around at others and envy the light they have. I know this is foolish, but I do it anyway.

When I compare my light to the light of others, I grow restless and inevitably try to twist myself into a shape that does not suit me. I want to become like that other person, instead of wanting to become more like myself.

When I consider this propensity more closely, I see that what I really want is not so much the light the other person has but the popularity and success they have. I make the mistake of equating light with fame, fortune and accomplishment.

But someone can be famous, wealthy and powerful…and still not be in touch with their own light. Indeed: fame, wealth and power are often…quite dark.

The light that is given to you, if it is your light and not someone else’s, can never be anything else to you but light. Even if it feels hard, even if it feels dim to you…if it’s you and yours, it’s light.

Being faithful to the light you’ve been given is an incredibly underrated virtue in our culture. We’re always comparing our story to another’s. We often wish we had the life of another. There’s a reason this saying is familiar to us: “The grass is always greener on the other side.” And all it takes is a little taste of what it’s like “on the other side” to discover that the light that is truly yours is the best light you can ever have. Just be faithful—for in faithfulness we reveal what the world needs more than anything else: our deepest, truest beauty.


Threshold events can be transformative. We often dismiss the power of short moments in the everyday and even when it comes to big thresholds (like the passage of one year into the next) we marvel at how quickly it passes. It all happens so quickly, we scarcely realize how much has changed. We quickly settle into a “new normal,” even when that “new normal” does not suit us or is not good for us sometimes.

The late psychologist and rabbi Edwin Friedman observed the effects of life cycle rituals in family systems: a baptism at the birth of a baby, a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah at the onset of adolescence, birthdays, graduations, wedding ceremonies, and funerals are just a sampling of the ways we mark thresholds in our lives.

Each of these thresholds spell change not only for the individual concerned but also for the entire family system of that individual. “Differentiation” is the term given to describe the change process. This change often leaves others who know you well feeling unsettled, and sometimes they will (consciously or unconsciously) respond in ways that try to get you to be your old self.

It’s tempting when this happens to return to your old self, but it is neither healthy for you nor them. Cultivating non-anxious presence is key to staying the course because it puts others at ease (everything is going to be okay) and because it puts you at ease. It’s fascinating that Friedman identifies playfulness as the single best sure-fire way to practice non-anxiety.

Thresholds are bigger spaces than they seem. Each one is big enough to hold an entire playground. In each one, we are able to stay connected, yet we are free to roam. Thresholds don’t have to be lonely places. Even death, as lonely as it is, can become a space of companionship. Hospice workers know this mystery very well.

The wonder of a threshold is that it is your threshold but you don’t always have to go through it alone. I wonder: as you contemplate the threshold of a new year…who might be a good companion for you?


In Celtic spirituality there is a custom of blessing entryways. I think it is a lovely custom! Every home has many entryways, in fact. There is the entryway between the outside and the inside, but that is just the start. Within the home, there are also entryways for places that are used to rest, cook, eat, clean, befriend, learn and listen.

If you leave home and go to a place of work, there are still more thresholds to be honored. In cities, simply crossing a street can represent a profound threshold, a move from one space into an entirely different space.

Our lives are a series of thresholds. It is good to notice them and honor them because on the other side of each threshold are people who are going through their own spiritual, emotional and physical thresholds. Most people you know are just trying to find their own way with the light that has been given to them. To bless these thresholds is to try to understand the people who inhabit the different spaces around us.

I wonder how much change we’d see in this world and in ourselves if we adopted the practice of blessing every threshold we encounter? I think we’d understand what it means to live a life of prayer, that’s for sure! I’m convinced there is deep and ancient wisdom in the custom of hanging a mezuzah in the doorway.

As you consider the doorway of one year to the next, I wonder: what’s your blessing, what’s your prayer? Thresholds are good places for both prayer and play. They are good places to ask: “Who am I and how can I just be more…myself? How can I be true to who I’ve been and how can I be open to renewal, revision? What light has been given to me, how can I be faithful to it, and who could accompany me on this journey?”

I pray you enjoy the journey that the year to come holds. I pray you experience this threshold as a place of hope.

Happy New Year!   


PlayFull develops resources, offers coaching, and facilitates PlayDates that are designed to help individuals and groups approach life with a playful mindset. We promote "play from the inside-out." Reach out to us to see how we can help you. We invite you to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading!  

30 December 2018

What's Your Yes?

What’s Your Yes?
by Troy Cady

This past year our church made a deliberate choice to do less and to encourage our members to do less. Our year-long goal was to “create margin.”

I am convinced that busyness is one of the biggest impediments to a life well-lived. Learning to say “no” to the innumerable opportunities and demands that come our way is an important skill to develop, but it is hard to practice.

Our culture values “movers and shakers,” those who seem to have an endless amount of energy, and a limitless supply of new, exciting projects to pursue. We esteem those who get a lot done.

Just listen to how we introduce keynote speakers at special events to observe this phenomenon. We describe them in terms of their accomplishments. The longer the list, the higher the praise.

But what a person has done, however many degrees they’ve obtained, and what kinds of honors they’ve received can only tell you so much about the real person underneath all that activity. Who are they when they stop? Are they able to stop and just be present to themselves? Are they able to be present to others apart from the work that drives them, the purposes they are compelled to fulfill?  

I’d wager most of us would be under-whelmed by someone who told us that their resolution for next year is to slow down and rest more. Many would wonder, “Okay, fine: but what do you want to accomplish? What goals do you have that will help you really make a mark? What’s the next big thing for you?”

The problem is: if we keep living this way—just doing, doing, doing all the time—we can easily miss what’s most important right beside us. The most meaningful relationships we have are those that require a whole lot of wasteful time—time spent not to get something out of the other person or to change them as if they are a project of our choosing, but time spent just to be with them, to enjoy them, to be yourself with them. We need lots of no-agenda time, sharing thoughts, feelings, and stories that don’t have to get us anywhere in particular—except, perhaps, to a new place of togetherness, plain and simple.

At my church, we call this “a ministry of presence.” It’s a way of living that values just being together, listening and sharing, eating together, playing together, wasting time with each other just for the sake of friendship.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Grace is not a task. Peace cannot be forced. The things that matter most in life lie well beyond our strategic plans. At the end of it all, we will wonder most whether we loved well, not whether we accomplished enough.

As many of you reading this may be considering what resolution you might like to make this year to improve yourself, may I commend to you the simple practice of “creating margin” in your life so you can just be present to those right beside you each day? Do less to be more.

And, if this idea sounds like something you’d like to try, may I also mention one thing I learned this past year that could potentially be a help to you? I observed that many people, myself included, tend to think of creating margin as simply “saying no.”

But creating margin is more about your “yes” than your “no.” If what you are saying “yes” to is really important, the nos take care of themselves. The yes that is a full yes fills both your heart and your calendar. It becomes easier to say no when you know what your yes is.

I wonder: what’s your yes this year?


PlayFull's mission is to help people and organizations play from the inside-out. We invite you to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading! 

08 November 2018

Incivility, Violence and Play

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Incivility, Violence and Play
by Troy Cady

Yesterday, I watched in disbelief as the president and a journalist had a rather immature exchange live on national television. If we were ever in doubt before, we can now be certain: a spirit of incivility grips our society with no let-up in sight. We should be able to look to our leaders to serve as models of our better nature but those kinds of leaders seem to be diminishing greatly.

Beyond this exchange, I also heard a talk that was given recently by a certain influential Christian leader in which he mentioned he is now developing a “theology of violence" (as in, violence as a "good"). This was mentioned by him as he spoke at a conference for the Christian Community Development Association, of all places—an organization that champions healing and reconciliation. And I ask: have we completely lost ourselves?

This morning I also awakened to news of another mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, California (a town where several friends of mine live).

So, I pray: deliver us from our incivility, and save us from our words and actions that promote violence as the answer…

In the midst of all this, it may sound unbelievable to you that I still believe in the power of play and playfulness to ease these tensions and de-escalate these hostilities. It’s somewhat ironic that yesterday morning before I encountered any of these ugly things, I heard a story on NPR about a group of counter-protestors at a White Supremacist rally shortly after the Charlottesville conflict (where several people were killed or injured). This time around the counter-protestors tried a more whimsical approach: they played La Bamba. Given what had happened not too long before in Charlottesville, it is telling that this incident resulted in zero injuries.

A transcript of NPR’s story describes well the role of play in this situation:

TREVOR NOAH: The absolute best counterprotest I have ever seen…A white supremacist gets up to give a speech, and he doesn't get punched. Someone just starts playing "La Bamba."

IRWIN: People were dancing on our side. Think about that. In Charlottesville, they murdered that woman with a car. They were violent. They came in with clubs and fire.

NOAH: Even one of the Nazis can't help but dance along. Look at him.


NOAH: He's like, yeah. We're the supreme race, but that is the supreme beat. Come on.

IRWIN: And he was dancing to a song that was multicultural by its very nature and sound and beat. And when you hit a song and something like that happens, you know on a cellular level this is something that's right for right now. This is it.

Have a listen to the whole story here to see how play is more powerful than we think it is. As an expression of culture, play can help us break down our needless divisions. A theology of play (as opposed to a theology of violence) is a theology of the kingdom of God, a kingdom of healing and reconciliation, peace and joy.


PlayFull’s mission is to promote “play from the inside out.” We believe play is a wonderful alternative to the incivility and violence that tear us apart. More than a method, playfulness is a mindset.  We invite you to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading. 

04 June 2018

Adults Should Play, Too!

“You may believe play to be the domain of children and irresponsible adults who do not take life as seriously as they should. Such underdeveloped notions of play can lead to a complete negation of play-related qualities, including spontaneity, risk, and joy. On the other hand, if you can fathom play as a continuing holy reality that is just as valuable to adults as it is to children, then you are less likely to discount its value in your life…If you value the role of play for adults, you will find it easier to schedule play, and to revel in it without guilt when it interrupts your daily schedule. Play, in the latter mindset, is legitimized by the sheer delight it offers.” -from Rest in the Storm by Kirk Byron Jones (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2001), location 1246, Kindle.


PlayFull exists to help adults become more childlike! We invite you to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thank you for reading. 

31 May 2018

Thursday Thought:: Thomas Merton on Play and God

"What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as 'play' is perhaps what He Himself takes most seriously. At any rate, the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance." ~ Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation


Play from the inside-out. We invite you to like PlayFull on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Thanks for reading! 

28 February 2018

Thank You: Kind and Generous by Natalie Merchant

Gratitude: a lost art. Few phrases in this world are more powerful than the simple expression, "Thank You." Let this message and these images from an old song by Natalie Merchant give you a pick-up today. Then, we invite you to respond by thanking someone for whom you are grateful. Live PlayFully, friends...

01 February 2018

12 For 2018:: 1. Offer Hospitality

At the beginning of 2018, PlayFull invited you to consider these twelve practices to have a more PlayFull year.

1. Offer hospitality.
2. Share special celebrations.
3. Express gratitude.
4. Befriend silence.
5. Practice wholly (holy) listening.
6. Take care of your body.
7. Remember to rest; enjoy Sabbath.
8. Give and receive grace.
9. Give generously.
10. Keep learning.
11. Serve.
12. Play.

If you like, you are welcome to download our printable and put it someplace as a reminder of healthy personal and relational habits. To help you, here’s a short thought on hospitality by PlayFull's president, Troy Cady.


by Troy Cady 

In 2010, my family moved to Chicago after having spent 12 years serving in ministry in Europe. As I write this, 2017 has come to a close.

Seven years. It seems to have gone by in a flash. Seven years…and so much has changed. And yet: the work we started so many years ago in Europe has continued without us. To be sure, some of what we did has stopped, but some of it has continued in surprising ways.

This past year, I was in touch with a few friends who are still ministering overseas. Through my contact with them, I am learning what truly endured from our time in Europe. Without exception, these friends who are still going from strength to strength in ministry have told us that the thing that impacted them most was:


That’s humbling. I say that because I am aware I spent so much time and energy on teaching, managing conflict, organizing, setting up programs, devising strategies, and crafting action plans with deadlines. I labored so hard those many years on all those well-meaning approaches, and the one thing that truly stuck was, quite simply, the practice of hospitality.

Wow! That is truly humbling.

My wife teaches me a lot about hospitality. She says that it’s different than “entertaining guests.” Hospitality is about companionship. It’s about helping others feel at home, emotionally safe, accepted and at-ease.

Believe it or not, I think of hospice care in connection with this. We think of “hospice” in our culture as a place where a person can die in as peaceful an environment as possible. My grandmother received in-home hospice care when she was nearing the end of her life. I was at her bedside when she passed and I remember how peaceful her passing was. Yes, it was a sad time—but it also holds many sweet memories for me. I remember singing cherished hymns for her and just being present with her, even when she couldn’t reply. It was enough to just be present.

All genuine hospitality is like that. When genuine hospitality is offered, people are not afraid to hide the many ways they may feel “dead” inside. They can be themselves. Genuine hospitality is not dependent on a physical place. It is an emotional space. It is a space of acceptance: you don’t have to be someone you’re not. It is a space of belief: “I see so many wonderful things in you and I just love visiting with you.” It is a space of shared joys and sorrows.

It is a space where strangers quickly become friends and friends become family. When we have people over to our house, we don’t feel compelled to have everything neat, orderly and planned. We don’t do everything for “guests” because we don’t do everything for friends and family. Instead, we ask them to help: that’s what friends are for and that’s what family is all about. We put folks to work…putting out plates, utensils, glasses, and napkins…cleaning up, sharing food & drink. This kind of hospitality stems from something that’s quite obvious: genuine togetherness can only be created together.

Because of this, hospitality can take place anywhere: in a large home or a small apartment, in a restaurant or bar, at the park or zoo, in your front yard or back-alley garage. It can entail simply playing games, sharing a drink, and having good old fashioned conversation. Invariably, laughter breaks out. Genuine hospitality is spontaneous; it occurs organically. It often involves food but it doesn’t have to be fancy. Even a package of chips (or some vegetable nibbles) and a pitcher of water will suffice. You don’t have to be wealthy to practice hospitality. In fact, I have seen first-hand that the company of the poor makes for the richest company.

The Bernard Street Happy Hour:
every Friday when the weather is nice. :) 
Though 2017 definitely held sorrow for me, I must say the joys outweighed the sorrows—and chief among the joys of 2017 was something my wife started in the late spring called the Bernard Street Happy Hour. Every Friday from 5 p.m. onward we simply set up chairs and tables in our front yard and told our neighbors: “We are going to be here every Friday and would love it if you’d join us.”

That first Friday a good group of neighbors spent all evening just enjoying being together and we carried on until 11 p.m.  From one week to the next, the size of the group varied and the amount of time we spent together varied but with only a couple of exceptions we were out there every Friday. Everyone would bring food and drink to share. Because we were all right next door, we’d run in and out of our homes to get things we needed like cups and plates, chairs and napkins. One neighbor got in the habit of making homemade pizza for everyone and he did this almost every Friday throughout the whole summer.

Young and old gathered and people brought out their pets. At one point it looked like we were holding a dog convention! I read stories to a couple of kids who came and helped another young friend make chalk drawings on the sidewalk.

Everyone was different from everyone else and that is precisely what made our time so rich together. These times together made me realize that it is not often people spend time together just to enjoy each other with no agenda and no task to accomplish. It was refreshingly playful.

Because of that, it was the time of the week I looked forward to the most. It was like a little slice of heaven on earth, in fact. So, we are planning to do it again this year. Practicing hospitality is the art of making space for everyone to bring their gifts to others, whether those gifts are physical or interpersonal.

I wonder: how do you offer hospitality?

Stay tuned for more installments on PlayFull's own "12 for 2018" practices. The easiest way to stay connected is to sign up for PlayFull's monthly e-digest, The PlayFull Life. It contains inspiration and resources to help you live more playfully. Don't worry: if you don't find it helpful you can unsubscribe at any time. But, we're betting you won't want to do that! :) 

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04 January 2018

Love and Joy

“God’s purpose in creating us was just to love us and lavish joy on us. As is the case with any loving relationship, the person on whom we focus our love and joy is not an object to subject to any specific purpose—other than the purpose of just knowing that we love them and are delighted in them. In other words, God created us in love and joy and God continues to woo us in love and joy. That is all we really need to know if we want to live in playful freedom.

“It is this very image of God as loving and joyful, playful and happy that lies at the heart of authentic faith. The trouble is: this is the very image of God we have the most difficulty believing.” (from 200 Ways to Play by Troy Cady)


Friends: PlayFull's desire for you in 2018 is that you would live in God's love and joy. Believe the Good News!

Be on the lookout for PlayFull's new book, 200 Ways to Play. It will be available in Kindle format and paperback soon. It's chock-full of ideas and exercises designed to help you live in love and joy.

03 January 2018

12 PlayFull Practices for a New Year

12 PlayFull Practices for a New Year
by Troy Cady

We hear it frequently every December and January: “Happy New Year!”

This is surely an important time of year. It is a season of renewal. Now that I am older, I am beginning to cherish the celebration of a New Year more and more. Hearing so many people wishing others a Happy New Year gives me hope because it’s really a simple way of blessing others. No matter who I meet, no matter who I see this time of year, I can look them in the eye and say Happy New Year with a full and sincere heart.

This simple three-word wish gives me hope because I see it as a small way in which we can set aside our petty differences to acknowledge the common humanity we share, the sacredness of every soul we meet. It is actually an opportunity to acknowledge that we are all works-in-progress, that we all share hardship and joy, that we all need grace, that everyone desires to have a happy life—and that our own happiness is connected to the happiness of others.

Our declaration of Happy New Year indicates to me that we instinctively know something essential about happiness: namely, it cannot be hoarded. The more it is shared, the stronger it grows in one’s own life. The happiness of my neighbor in no way diminishes my own happiness. On the contrary, as I wish my neighbor true happiness, I experience the happiness that comes with such a wish.

This year I am mindful that the previous year was especially difficult for many people. Many of us are just plain dog-tired because of tragedy, conflict, hatred, chaos and confusion. Many people feel as if they have been put on trial, harassed and helpless. Many feel as though the slightest incorrect utterance will result in societal contempt and relational exile. Many are walking on eggshells, afraid of judgement. Others feel the human footprint on the world has become debased—little more than “rats’ feet over broken glass in our dry cellar.” (T.S. Eliot) 

And yet, we find it in ourselves to persevere. Year after year, we say Happy New Year and with those three little words we declare: “I am not resigned. Let’s hope together. Let’s hope for a better future. Let’s lay aside our cursing and bless each other instead.”

This commitment to renewal is how humanity has survived and flourished for thousands of years. We see ourselves in light of the power and grace of time—and, as the cycle turns, we say: “Let’s keep going. Let’s not give up. Let’s change what needs to be changed and let’s hold on to what truly endures. Let’s forgive what we’ve done wrong and let’s work towards healing and reconciliation.”


The writers of The Anatomy of Peace describe well what it takes to effect change. We nurture healthy change in two basic ways:

1. Helping things go right, and
2. Correcting things that go wrong.

The authors assert that, if we want an environment that is healthy and life-giving, we will spend most of our time and energy on the former—and, therefore, very little time and energy on the latter. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? The more time we spend helping things go right, the less time we have to spend correcting things that go wrong.

But that is easier said than done. If we are to spend most of our time helping things go right, we need to be intentional and deliberate about it. Good habits tend to be cultivated like flowers. Bad habits tend to grow easily like weeds. Being human is hard work sometimes (maybe: most of the time). Despite that, I’m convinced the work of being a healthy human doesn’t have to be burdensome. I’m convinced the kind of work it takes to be healthy is actually delightful, even playful. Those who learn to enjoy their work are as healthy soil: seeds sown in such enriched earth produce a stronger, more abundant crop.

When the disposition of the heart is positively inclined, there is little room for the negative. If we would ever be able to spend all our time practicing what is good, we would have no time to practice what is harmful to us and others. Of course, that is the ideal—but it doesn’t play out in reality. That’s why any attempt to practice what is good needs to include grace—grace for yourself and grace for others.

Grace is life’s great trump card. If you were to pick only one thing to practice to “help things go right” it would be the practice of giving and receiving grace. In my PlayFull ministry, I put it this way: Grace is the soul’s way of playing. Grace is precisely the way we “play from the inside out.”

Grace is important because it reminds me that the way to a better life, the way to work for a better world, is not simply a matter of “mind over matter.” Though I advocate the power of a positive mindset, I do not wish to give you the impression that that is all one needs to have a happy life. After all, I can still hurt someone while thinking positively about myself (I know: because I do it sometimes). Positive thinking only gets me so far. Positive practices get me farther—and grace reminds me I’m still a work in progress (as are others).

But I am getting ahead of myself now: I’ll write more about Grace in the days to come.

As a start, here are the twelve practices I hope to live by this year and I invite you to join me. Because twelve might seem like an awful lot to pursue, feel free to narrow the list or substitute something on the list to suit you. I offer these twelve because they make sense to me but I also figure they might resonate with you, too—because, I’m convinced, these particular practices have a sense of timelessness to them. That is, they will always be valuable practices, no matter what year it is. Here they are:

1. Offer hospitality.
2. Share special celebrations.
3. Express gratitude.
4. Befriend silence.
5. Practice wholly (holy) listening.
6. Take care of your body.
7. Remember to rest; enjoy Sabbath.
8. Give and receive grace.
9. Give generously.
10. Keep learning.
11. Serve.
12. Play.

In the days to come, I will write a little about each practice. I hope you find my observations helpful and I wish all of you the happiest of days in 2018.

May Joy and Peace Flourish,