The importance of play is often overlooked as we enter adulthood. Recess and playdates at the park are only for small children, right? As we become adults, life is meant to be taken seriously because we have responsibilities. Playing is often viewed as a waste of time, but what if we told you finding time to play has both physical and emotional benefits? Play stimulates the mind, expands our creativity, reduces stress, increases joy and allows us to better connect with others.
This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to carve out time in your day to play. First step is to view play as a necessary priority in your life. We do not expect you to play all day long but adding little bits of play here and there will go a long way to boosting your productivity and happiness.
In a fast-paced society focused on accomplishments and material success, it sometimes becomes a struggle to pay attention to the important things that bring real happiness. In the words of Christopher E. Peterson, a noted psychologist and expert on happiness, play is “a robust predictor of how satisfied we are with our lives.”
The book titled, The Top Five Regrets of The Dying, adds some perspective to the subject. Note how differently people wished they had lived their lives in retrospect:
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Scott, Eberle, Ph.D, author of Play in Mind, states play is “a process, not a thing.” He continues, “...in between you find surprise, pleasure, understanding — as skill and empathy — and strength of mind, body, and spirit.
Dr. Stuart Brown, a pioneer researcher on play, states, “Play is something done for its own sake. It's voluntary, it's pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome."
Brown outlines five different types of play. Hopefully, you will be motivated to add a few to your weekly schedule.
Rough-and-tumble: Tug of war, capture the flag, dodgeball
Ritual Play: Games with set rules like board and card games.
Imaginative Play: Storytelling, painting, drawing, acting
Body Play: Yoga, hiking, surfing
Object play: Legos, building forts, building blocks
Common sense tells us we need to let kids play to develop. Play allows creativity, critical thinking and personal development. Please take sometime this week to play. It will positively impact your career, relationships and families.