When was the last time you did something just for the fun of it?

Yes, I am asking about that four-letter word – play.

When we are children, we can’t wait to be adults. As adults, we look back at childhood with longing. What did you have back there that you don’t have now? As a child you spent time doing things just for the pleasure of doing them.

You played.

Adults often abandon “childish” things and risk losing childlike enthusiasm. Pleasurable activities encourage aliveness. Adult life can take a toll on our energy. When feeling overwhelmed my invitation to myself is to pull out art supplies. Painting for the fun of it is joyful to me. But it is not for everyone.

Play is uniquely individual.

One woman’s play is another woman’s torture. Painting may create stress for you. Maybe you enjoy one or two of these activities; puzzles, crafting, board games, dancing, pickle ball, swimming, hiking, scuba diving, karaoke, collaging, sculpting, playing cards, singing, model building, knitting, cooking, scrapbooking and the list goes on…

The idea of playing may seem ridiculous. We live in a world with huge challenges. Yet, because of the seriousness of life, play is even more needed. Why you ask? Play like meditation drops you into the moment. Dropping in, helps you avoid being swept into the world’s chaotic energies.

Is this what the adult voice in your head is saying?

“Oh no something else I SHOULD do! My adult responsibilities have to be done. I try to find time to meditate and to work out…now play. Where do I even put this on my never-ending “to do list.”

Note to self, “Remember to play.”

The fact that you have a never-ending “to do list” is exactly why play is important. What we should do or have to do can leave us stressed and exhausted. What we want to do often does not even make it on our list.

Why is play important?

• Keeps us young
• Increases energy
• Stimulates cerebral cortex
• Improves memory
• Decreases stress
• Enhances creativity
• Encourages laughter.

Stuart Brown MD is a play researcher and psychiatrist. He makes an important observation in his Ted Talk, “The opposite of play is not work, it’s depression.” Well, that certainly got my attention. That is a wakeup call for everyone.  Play is a serious endeavor. It is linked to mental health. It improves brain function. It can be an antidote to depression.

But what if we don’t even remember how to play?

He has a suggestion for that also. Look back to your childhood. Your favorite childhood activity is a hint of how you like to play. Finding it might take a little searching and a few false starts. 

Fun as our focus in a problem-ridden world seems both frivolous and necessary. Serious times actually increase the need to give adulting a rest. Play is a source of self-preservation. It removes you from ordinary daily stresses, and lets you touch the magic of being alive.

In a day or two I will put away my paints and paintbrushes. Seeing them spread out on the kitchen island is inspiring. For me, creativity has always been my playground. Do you remember yours? What was your favorite childhood activity? The benefits of remembering it are significant.

Some part in each of us still loves to play.

It is asking…

Can you come out and play?

Well, can you?

You might enjoy Dr. Brown’s Ted Talk. Here is the link…
Play is more than just fun