Why Do We Discount the Importance of Play?
Have you noticed one of the primary differences between childhood and adulthood is play? After all, “Adults aren’t supposed to play.” Adults get jobs, do chores, run errands, and more. If there is any time left over, we may intend to play, but that time often never comes. .
Many people are so driven to succeed that they neglect to play. They don’t understand the importance of play in adulthood.Are you like me in that regard? I am one of those people. My kids will tell you I work too much.
You see, I’ve always been driven to “succeed”.I kept thinking that once I achieved “this,” I could relax and play more. Once I reach “that goal,” I can take a few hours off to go hiking or on vacation.
Then the next big project came along, and well, you probably know the rest of the story.
I was so driven to succeed that my life had slipped out of balance and I found myself failing to take time to do some of the things I enjoyed.
I had a pattern of turning the things I loved to do for fun into obligations – thereby turning them into work. My love of ballet turned into teaching ballet. The art and crafts I loved to create turned into a design and craft business with deadline upon deadline. I could only justify doing those activities if they brought me closer to my goals. And having more fun, I didn’t think, could be a goal.
There is nothing wrong with creating a career out of what you love to do! I encourage it. Work should be something you enjoy doing!
The problem arises when you fail to give yourself permission to do those things just for the fun of it. After all, according to Dictionary.com, play is an exercise or activity for amusement or recreation. Not an activity you have to do.
The importance of play in adulthood is most often misunderstood.
His presentation ignited in me the knowledge that I can’t experience true success without including play in my life. Perhaps Heraclitus describes my newfound knowledge best when he said, “Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.” And fully being myself is the most valid form of success.
Why is Play Important for Adults?
Play helps to relieve stress.
Endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, are released into the body during play. These endorphins help cultivate a sense of well-being. Plus, studies have shown it can help relieve pain.
Improve brain function.
Executive function refers to the mental skills that allow us to manage time and attention, to plan and organize, to remember details, and decide what is and isn’t appropriate to say and do in a given situation. Executive function also helps growing children learn to master their emotions and to use past experiences to understand what to do in the present. These are the skills that are central to self-control and self-discipline. Kids who have a well-developed executive function do well in school, get along well with others and make good decisions. Make-believe play gives the frontal lobe of the brain, the center of executive function, a workout.
It is those changes in the prefrontal cortex during childhood that help wire up the brain’s executive control center, which has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans, and solving problems.
Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.
Stimulate the mind and boost creativity.
Young children often learn best when they are playing—a principle that applies to adults, as well. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.
Improve relationships and your connection to others.
Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.
Keep you feeling young and energetic.
In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you function at your best
What is Considered Playing for Adults?
I could only justify doing those activities if they brought me closer to my goals. And having more fun, I didn’t think, could simply be a goal.
Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with creating a career out of what you love to do! I encourage it. Work should be something you enjoy doing!
The problem arises when you fail to give yourself permission to do those things just for the fun of it.
After all, according to Dictionary.com says “play is an exercise or activity for amusement or recreation. Not an activity you have to do.”
Play is an important part of cultivating an exceptional life!
- Do you give yourself permission to play?
- Can you experience true success without play?
- How does play complete you?
I am on a mission to play more. How about you?
About the Author
Leisa Watkins is the founder of Cultivate An Exceptional Life. She believes life is meant to be enjoyed and experienced in abundance. She is on a mission to help people break through barriers and avoid roadblocks in life while creating a life they love. She also shares tips on getting more out of life, despite it's challenges on our Instagram channel. Please follow us.
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