In our busy, 24/7 connected modern lives, the focus tends to sway heavily on work and family commitments and taking time for pure fun seems to be something we remember we once did, but no longer do! Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we’ve stopped playing.
But just because we’re adults, that doesn’t mean we have to take ourselves so seriously and make life all about work. We all need to play.
The late A. Bartlett Giamatti, former president of Yale University and one-time commissioner of Major League Baseball said, “You can learn more about a society by observing the way they play as opposed to how they work.”
Our high tech life with its accelerated pace has fostered a culture that seems to be always working, always rushed, and always connected digitally.
Being connected digitally does not equal being connected to our inner needs.
And, although “zoning out” in front of a TV or computer can be a relief from all those feelings of overload, Instead of engaging in play and fun to find some relief from all their commitments, there are some studies showing that up to 79% of adults simply zone out in front of the TV or computer.
Play is not just essential for children, it’s essential for adults too. In order to maintain balance in our lives, and for our ultimate well-being, play is important.
Lenore Terr, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of Beyond Love and Work: Why Adults Need to Play, argues that play is crucial at every stage of life. In play, we discover pleasure, we release the stresses of our busy lives and acquire a sense of freedom like when we were children without all the responsibilities of adulthood.
“Play is a lost key,” Terr writes. “It unlocks the door to ourselves.”
When we are completely involved in play our cares and worries disappear. Sailing, playing a game of tennis, or being thoroughly engrossed in a good novel, we feel pleasurably alive and light-hearted. There is nothing like play that allows us to be present in the moment.
If you feel like you don’t have enough play time in your life (and who doesn’t), try these suggestions:
- Turn-off. Turn off the television, computer, beeper and cell phone for at least two hours a day.
- Let your mind wander. Recall what you used to enjoy doing or what you always wanted to do before we became so technology-oriented.
- Include others. Invite someone over to play, just like you used to when you were a kid. Nothing planned, nothing structured. Let your play evolve naturally.
- Use your furry children. Our furry children love to play too and are a wonderful way to easily be in the moment as you engage with them and feel the pure joy of playing.
- Think physical. Go for a walk, ride your bike, rent some skates, break out the croquet set from the basement, go for a swim or a run.
- Pretend. Pretend you don’t have any cares or worries. Pretend you have all the time in the world to laugh and play and enjoy. Pretend there is no moment other than this.
The benefits of play are extensive, but in a nutshell: play feels good-gets your endorphins rolling out and allows you to be carefree, in the moment and loving life.
Any time you have the choice of whether to work “just one more hour” or give yourself over to play, consider what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”
Now, are you ready to go and play?