Play is not just for kids, it’s for everyone

Posted by Karen in Life Coaching tips

How often do you play?

I have recently reflected on the areas in my life that I have neglected over the past years:  friends and playing came out top.

So about two weeks ago, when I went to East London’s Victoria Park for a stroll, I acted on my sudden urge to do some cartwheels. The first ones felt incredibly stiff but being so happy to be able to do them still I ended up doing at least 30. I haven’t done cartwheels since I was 12, when I stopped going to gymnastics class.

I think playing connects me to something that’s not the every day, to something bigger. When I play, do cartwheels, dance or have a good laugh with friends, it’s about allowing myself to be silly, adventurous, spontaneous….

When I play I feel alive, with all my senses – seeing, hearing, feeling, touching, smelling – fully engaged and switched on. I experience a great sense of freedom too. Nowhere to go, nothing else to do but play, here and now.

Playing lifts our spirit, fills us with uplifting energy and enhances our creativity. It’s important to a balanced life.

How often do you play?

In the context of my reflections I came across a book called Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination and invigorates the soul by Stuart Brown which I can highly recommend. He describes how important play is not only for children and their development but also for adults, for our happiness, well being, creativity and success. In his studies Brown has drawn out the qualities of play which I have found very interesting and that I’d like to share with you:

  1. Apparent purposelessness – play activities are not done for any survival value, they don’t help to get food or money, they are voluntary and free of duty and any other requirements. That’s why some people think that playing is a waste of time.
  2. Inherent attraction – play is fun. It makes us feel good.
  3. Diminished consciousness of self – when we play we stop worrying about whether we look good or awkward, smart or stupid. We are fully in the moment, in the zone.
  4. Improvisational potential – play allows us to be spontaneous, to get us out of a locked and rigid way of doing things. We are open to serendipity, to chance. It can allow us to see things in a different way and have fresh insights.
  5. Continuation desire – play provides the desire to play more and more often. It’s the pleasure of the experience of playing that drives the desire. When we stop playing we want more and to do it again soon.

So perhaps you want to think about what sort of play you liked in your childhood and that you would still like to do or other play activities you’ve been wanting to do but perhaps didn’t dare to do because you are an adult now.

I went to Hampstead Heath last Saturday and there were kids rolling down the hill in the grass – I so wanted to join them but I didn’t. I was feeling too self conscious. But I certainly will next time!

Remember: Play is not just for kids, it’s for everyone.

Warm wishes, Karen

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