Play and Connections in Life
Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships.
Children play all the time.. and this is their way of expressing themselves, making friends, interpreting the world. By and large children are very happy people, they are in the moment. They are Mindful human beings, something we strive to relearn as adults.
In his book Play, author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD, compares play to oxygen. He writes, “…it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.” This might seem surprising until you consider everything that constitutes play. Play is art, books, movies, music, comedy, flirting and daydreaming, writes Dr. Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play.
Brown has spent decades studying the power of play in everyone from prisoners to businesspeople to artists to Nobel Prize winners. He’s reviewed over 6,000 “play histories,” case studies that explore the role of play in each person’s childhood and adulthood.
For instance, he found that lack of play was just as important as other factors in predicting criminal behaviour among murderers in Texas prisons. He also found that playing together helped couple rekindle their relationship and explore other forms of emotional intimacy.
Take play out of the mix, and the relationship becomes a survival endurance contest. Without play skills, the repertoire to deal with inevitable stresses is narrowed. Even if loyalty, responsibility, duty, and steadfastness remain, without playfulness there will be insufficient vitality left over to keep the relationship buoyant and satisfying
Play can even facilitate deep connections between strangers and cultivate healing.
What is Play?
Brown called play a “state of being,” “purposeless, fun and pleasurable.” For the most part, the focus is on the actual experience, not on accomplishing a goal, he said. Also, the activity is needless. As Brown said, for some people knitting is pure pleasure; for others, it’s pure torture. For Brown, who’s almost 80, play is tennis with friends and a walk with his dog.
How to Play
We don’t need to play every second of the day to enjoy play’s benefits. In his book, Brown calls play a catalyst. A little bit of play is important for all aspects of our lives, including creativity and relationships. Give yourself permission to play every day. For instance, play can mean talking to your dog.
What did you do as a child that excited you? Did you engage in those activities alone or with others? Or both? How can you recreate that today?
Surround yourself with playful people. select friends who are playful – and play with your loved ones.
- Play with little ones. Playing with kids helps us experience magic of play through their perspective