Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Importance of Play for Adults

Hi and welcome to this week’s post that I hope you will find interesting.  Play is such a fascinating subject from both the position of an onlooker and also as a participant and on that note let us look at the Importance of Play for Adults.

As a young person my heart was set on becoming a teacher. I remember playing “school” with my brother and sister and always being the teacher.  Fast forward some 10 years and my career plans were thwarted – despite being accepted for college my results were not high enough- teacher training doors were firmly shut.  Jump forward again some 40 years and I find myself moving to Devon and becoming a Personal Development coach (teacher) and now this month focusing my attention on PLAY!

Play is the purest expression of love.” – Dr Stuart Brown

Here is a sad fact – “Our society tends to dismiss play for adults!

There is a large percentage of people that perceive Play as being petty and unproductive, and some even go so far as saying that it is possibly even “a guilty pleasure”.

So many people believe that reaching adulthood means that has become time to get serious and furthermore, they also seem to believe that as a result of personal and professional responsibilities, there is simply no time to play.

The author Bowen F White MD notes that “The only kind of play we honour is competitive play,” in his book “Why Normal Isn’t Healthy”.

However, play is just as important for adults as it is for children.

“We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up,” according to Scott G. Eberle, Ph.D, vice president for play studies at The Strong and editor of the American Journal of Play.
Play brings joy! Furthermore, play is vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships.

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 statement 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.

Dr Brown has spent many years studying the power of play in everyone from prisoners to businesspeople and from artists to Nobel Prize winners. He has reviewed over 6,000 “play histories,” (these are case studies that explore the role of play in each person’s childhood and adulthood).
For example, he found that lack of play was just as important as other factors in predicting criminal behavior among murderers in Texas prisons.

He also found that playing together helped couples rekindle their relationship and explore other forms of emotional intimacy.

Play can even facilitate deep connections between strangers and cultivate healing.

In addition to being a doctor and speaker, Dr. White is a clown. His alter ego, Dr. Jerko, is a proctologist with a large behind and a doctor’s coat that says, “I’m interested in your stools.” Over two decades ago, White began working with renowned physician Patch Adams.

Today, White continues to clown at children’s hospitals and orphanages all over the world. He even clowns at corporate presentations and prisons. “Clowning isn’t something we’re doing with kids, we clown with everybody,” he said.

He has performed on the streets of Moscow and the fact that he does not speak Russian did not prevent him from playing with people in Red Square. Within 45 minutes, he was juggling and joking with a crowd of 30 people.

In Colombia, White’s wife and Patch Adams’ son – who are also clowns – visited a bedridden father, at his daughter’s request.

Once there, they sat on either side of his bed and despite the fact that he could not speak English, and they could not speak Spanish. They sang songs, laughed and played with a whoopee cushion. They also cried! Later the daughter told them that her father had deeply appreciated the experience.

Dr White said “play can lead us to these sacred spaces and touch people in powerful ways”

What is Play?

“Defining play is difficult because it is a moving target,” Eberle said. “It is a process, not a thing.” He said “it begins in anticipation and hopefully ends in poise and in-between you find surprise, pleasure, understanding — as skill and empathy — and strength of mind, body, and spirit.”

Brown likened play to a “state of being,” “purposeless, fun and pleasurable.” For the most part, the focus is on the actual experience, not on accomplishing a goal.

The activity is needless!  As Brown said, for some people knitting is pure pleasure; for others, it’s pure torture.

For Dr Brown, who is almost 80, play is tennis with friends and a walk with his dog.

How to Play

We do not have 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” he writes, “can go a long way toward boosting our productivity and happiness”.

So how can you add play into your life?

Here are a few tips from the experts:-

Change how you think about play - Remember that play is important for all aspects of our lives, including creativity and relationships.

Give yourself permission to play every day. Play can mean talking to your dog. “I[‘d] ask my dog Charlie, regularly, his opinion of the presidential candidates. He respond[ed] with a lifted ear and an upturning vocalization that goes ‘haruum?’”

Eberle said.
Play can be reading aloud to your partner, he said. “Some playful writers are made to be read aloud: Dylan Thomas, Art Buchwald, Carl Hiaasen, S.J. Perelman, Richard Feynman, Frank McCourt.”

Take a play history. 
In his book Brown includes a primer to help readers reconnect with play. He suggests readers mine their past for play memories such as:-

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. 

Both Brown and White stressed the importance of selecting friends who are playful – and of playing with your loved ones.

Play with your little ones (or if you are older with the grand children) because playing with children helps us to experience the magic of play from their perspective.

Any time that you think play is a waste, remember that it offers some serious benefits for both you and others and as Dr Brown says in his book, “Play is the purest expression of love!”


About Me  

As the founder of The Blue Sky Company I am dedicated to building a business that:-

“Inspires and Empowers people to create Lasting Change

I am a Personal Development coach; speaker; radio presenter; therapist and co-owner of a virtual light centre called The Crystal Spring .

My therapy work includes music therapy; crystal therapy and Reiki (Master / Teacher).
If you would like to know more about my work in any of the above therapies then please emailme

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