Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “We do not quit playing because we grow old; we grow old because we quit playing.” I totally agree. My granddaughters (ages 7 and 3) can play for hours and hours. Grandpa is worn out in minutes if it involves pretending to be Prince Eric with Princess Ariel of Little Mermaid fame. Yet, play as children and adults, is one of the very important things we can do to keep a healthy and vital life.
Our culture tends to dismiss play for adults as unproductive, petty or guilty pleasure. The notion is that once we reach adulthood, it’s time to get serious. And often times, with all of our adult responsibilities of work and family, there is no time to play.
Play is just as pivotal for adults as it is for kids. The National Institute for Play believes that play can dramatically transform our personal health, our relationships, the education we provide our children and the capacity of our corporations to innovate.
Play is multi-faceted—including art, books, movies, sports, comedy, flirting and daydreaming. Dr. Stuart Brown calls play a “state of being” more than an activity. The activity may be anything from knitting to walking the dog.
Research proves that playing helps couples rekindle their relationship and explore other forms of intimacy. Play can facilitate deep connections between strangers. Play is a catalyst. A little can go a long way toward boosting our productivity and happiness.
Here’s some suggestions that will help you keep on playing:
Change how you think about play. Give yourself permission to play every day. It’s not just for lazy people or those who aren’t at the top of their game in the business world. It might be as simple as reading a non-work related book or going for a walk. It could be watching a humorous You Tube video like NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon in disguise taking a car salesman for a test drive.
Reflect on your play history. If you don’t have any current ways you play, start thinking back about what you did as a child that excited you. Did you engage in those activities alone or with others? Or both? How can you recreate that in some way today?
Surround yourself with playful people. Find friends that are playful and love to have fun. Play with your spouse or other family members. My wife and I love to walk to Starbucks or ride our bikes to a coffee shop on the water. We love to travel and see the world whenever possible. Taking a weekend to go somewhere out of the ordinary is fun. On special birthdays, we’ve gone hot air ballooning, parasailing and sky-diving.
Play with little ones. Playing with kids helps us experience the magic of play through their perspectives. Playing with your children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews is a place to start. I’m sure I’ll be playing a bunch more because our daughter is pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl!
My friend, Julie Baumgardner wrote, “Just as children need play to help them de-stress, adults need play to help them be at their best when it comes to career, parenting, and marriage. Instead of looking at play as a waste of precious time, consider it a great investment in your wellbeing.” What will you do this week to make sure you get some play time?
QUESTION: What kind of play works well for your health? Please share it below.