We all need a little play

I had an epiphany about play on my way home from work. It took me back to my Masters program in Recreation and Tourism Management. One of the intro classes I took before even starting the program was a class on the study of play.  I remember a friend making fun that there was a whole class on play, and who could blame him? What can be so important about PLAY? I did my best to justify the subject and to explain importance of play but until my epiphany today, I don’t know that I believed it quite the way my professors wanted.

The moment that helped me realized the importance of play was seeing a video of the happiest baby from the happiest family I know. It brought memories of babysitting him and his siblings and experiencing the joy children get from play, how wild and silly they can get but how much energy that helps them release, especially before bedtime. I then thought about our new kitten and her every attempt to play and how we realized that with enough play, we can tired her out and sleep without getting pounced at all hours of the night. I also thought about the moments when a silly bug strikes me and Dave as we chase each other around the house and play wrestle.  The energy released in moments like these, by children, kittens or adults is an important part of our lives which helps relieve tensions of the day, de-stress and feel happier. Think of the last time you got silly and goofed around, how did it make you feel?

This is Zelda being playful

All these memories and pondering on play brought to light that play is something we are lacking in our everyday working lives. Perhaps we don’t see it as important or necessary, or maybe we think it’s not right to play as adults, that it’s childish. But think about the simplicity of yet how much joy it can bring. Despite societal pressures which make us take work seriously and see play as a distraction or lack of productivity, play can actually increase job performance, engagement and satisfaction (bottom liners read Profit). I’m not saying that life is all fun and games either, of course we all have bills to pay, a job to work and serious things that need serious attention. But if we could embrace the clarity and joy we gain by incorporating play, by just letting go being carefree, getting silly and laughing, we would all be happier and less stressed! Perhaps we wouldn’t be so grumpy working jobs we don’t love and we certainly would have better mental health. I don’t know about you but I want, no need more play in my life. I will play more, will you? Share your play success stories in the comments below and if you’re still not convinced, check out Mr. Brown’s talk about this topic; you’ll at least get a laugh, I promise!