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As children, we’re encouraged to play games, use our imagination and have fun. We learn through play from a very early age. But once we are adults, society puts less of an emphasis on the notion of play and for some the idea of play is saved exclusively for competitive sports. In his book “Play”, author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD, talks about how play is like oxygen and says ".…it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.” Play is vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships. But with all of the time we dedicate to family, our jobs and other responsibilities, it’s a challenge to find time for play.
How can we incorporate play into our adult lives? One way of course is to spend time playing with our children. But as our kids grow up or for those who don’t have children, what to do? Maybe it’s time you thought of play in a different way. Unless you're a frequent attendee of Burning Man, you're going to have to get creative. Play can mean anything from reading aloud from a funny book to a friend and sharing a good laugh or just being silly in the moment. Surrounding yourself with fun loving, playful people is a great way to encourage play in your own life.
The article, The Importance of Play for Adults on First Things First asks the reader to imagine they are walking down a city street and from around the corner, they hear laughter and hollering and assume it’s children playing. Then imagine the surprise to discover it is a group of adults playing some type of blindfolded dodge ball, clearly having a great time. It goes on to say, “Believe it or not, the adults who were seen playing blindfolded were actually working. This playfulness was part of a work activity. When finished, almost without exception, each person commented on how good it felt to play and how energized they felt. When they sat down to actually work on a project, many commented that they could feel the high level of energy in the room.”
So playing in the workplace can increase productivity and job satisfaction. Then what other ways can we encourage play in our day to day grown-up lives? How about remembering our love of certain board games or card games in our younger years and bringing them front and center by hosting a game night? Instead of watching a movie or game on television, bring your friends and family together with a little healthy competition. A quick search of Pinterest and you can find all sorts of ideas for hosting a game night. Everything from fun party décor, like a printable DIY Scrabble banner, to game night snacks, like Individual Seven Layer Dip Cups can be found to help you pull off a night to remember.
However you decide to embrace your playful side, you really can’t go wrong. Laughter, community and spirited communication are all tools to enhance your day to day life. So get out there and play!