Sometimes You Just Have to Play!

Adults at Play

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation

∼ Plato*

Recently, I read an article about play. Yes. That’s right, play: that thing we use to do when we were kids. It’s funny how as we grow into adulthood we learn so much, and yet, we lose certain things that perhaps we should try to take with us as we navigate the adult terrain. When we were kids, we knew how to play. We could play games even if we didn’t have a pack of cards or a game board, and certainly we didn’t have a smartphone or a tablet. We knew how to play hide-and-seek, tag—”You’re it!”—and a number of other games that simply required the presence of another kid or a strong-armed adult.

What happened?

As adults we enjoy entertainment, but that means someone or something—a comedian, a movie, a concert—performs the action while we sit and watch: that’s not playing though some experts disagree. Think Russel Crowe in Gladiator, “Are you not entertained?” he exclaimed to the blood-thirsty Roman crowd.

“Are you not played?” Nope. Doesn’t work: being entertained and playing are not the same.

When was the last time you played? 

Play

The article I read discussed the benefits of play: there are many. Click here to see an expansive list. Why should this list only apply to children? Aren’t these on-going, life-long developmental processes needed as we strive to self-actualize? And yes, we learn to accomplish these processes by more sophisticated means as we grow into adulthood, but must we abandon play totally?

Think about the games you’ve played at bridal or baby showers. Think about what a great time you had playing those silly games. Think about how you relaxed, laughed, enjoyed, and had fun.

Think you don’t have time to play?

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*from the home page of the National Institute for Play

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