Maybe it’s the pandemic or the aftermath of a volatile political campaign season, but my tolerance for fussing and fighting, over things big and small, is dwindling. Respect, kindness, and generosity of spirit have gone out the window, as if we’ve never known better. So, how about this idea—let’s all plan to meet at the playground and have a kindergarten teacher give us a refresher course on playground rules.

You may remember some different schoolyard norms, but from my recollection, the basics are this: Be kind and helpful to each other; play nicely; take turns; listen and respect one another; and keep hands and feet to yourself.

When I was growing up, my two favorite things to play on at the park were the swings and the seesaw. I am sad that you don’t see seesaws around much anymore, primarily for safety concerns.      Swinging can be enjoyed as a solitary endeavor, but it is impossible to enjoy a seesaw alone. Thus, the emblematic seesaw is the ideal place to learn and practice each one of the playground rules. And there is an added bonus—playtime on a teetertotter introduces us to important life lessons. Here are my teetertotter takeaways:

Life is full of ups and downs. Riding a seesaw up and down reminds us that some days will be better than others, some more challenging, others more joyful. To fully appreciate the highs, we have to experience a low or two in our lives. Acceptance of this principle will lead to a more fulfilled life where we are grateful for the good days while not letting our bad days define us.

Bullies. Ugh. Seesaw-savvy people know that one of the worst teetertotter experiences imaginable is when a bully either keeps you suspended and stranded midair without a way to get down or jumps off the seesaw so you crash down to the ground. Bullies can and will take all of the joy out of play, so learn how to spot and deal with them now.

Cooperating with others is rewarding. Since it is not a solo activity, the seesaw teaches the value of teamwork. With a common objective of mutual seesaw enjoyment, there must be give and take on both sides of the plank for it to work and for it to be fun. As in life, sometimes you have to give more (pushing off the ground) just so the other person can enjoy the ride, and vice versa. Cooperating is a win-win!

Achieving balance is hard. Have you ever tried to balance on a seesaw with someone so neither of you is touching the ground? It doesn’t just happen. The effort requires concentration, cooperation, core strength, and more.

All of these lessons can be applied to the workplace and in our personal relationships. So, the next time you pass a playground, let it be a reminder of the value of playground rules. Now, play nice, y’all.

I’m here if you need me. Until then, y’all behave.

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