Watch a couple of children when they first meet each other, how long is it before they start playing with each other? Usually not very long. The thing about children is they do not need permission to play, they do not need to organise it, they just simply do it. When did you last play?
‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.’
George Bernard Shaw/Benjamin Franklin
There are two forms of play, productive and passive. Productive play is, for me, more like doing work. It includes things like athletic racing, football, cricket, rugby and so on. The thing about productive play is that we are seeking an outcome that creates winners and losers. Passive play just involves fun; there is no winning it is just playing for playing’s sake.
Whatever form of play you participate in helps with so many things. We are helped in our developmental stages with brain development, body development and emotional development as in play fighting helps kids learn the limits of aggression.
Research shows that play, in many forms including cognitive play like scrabble and crosswords, sudoku and other puzzles can help prevent alzheimer’s, dementia, depression and increase motivation.
The big issue is fun. Playing is, or should be, enjoyable, it makes us feel good, happy, helps us bond with others and create social connections. We learn to co-operate, negotiate and communicate.
Some of the good reasons to play is to develop life skills, to learn, to create, to feel challenged, to lose ourselves in a pleasurable activity, to be calm, focussed, and to work co-operatively.
We know that play can: relieve stress, trigger the release of endorphins, that promote an overall sense of well-being, they can also relieve pain. Raised endorphins strengthen our immune system
Couples that spontaneously play, improve their relationship, share laughter, develop empathy, compassion, trust, intimacy and sexuality. Play can also loosen you up in stressful situations and break the ice with strangers.
We live in a world that separates our life into work and play. If we get to do what we want with our live we cease to work and begin to play. It might just be that if you learn to play and enjoy your life that you will never need to work again. You can play all day.
Take care and be happy.