"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."
- George Bernard Shaw
Play is something we are all made to do, and it is vital to our overall health. But why is it that as we get older, we stop playing? Why does society make us feel that because we are now an adult that we can't play?
Do you even remember HOW to play?
The fact is that there is science to back up that play is essential to our health. Dr. Stuart Brown M.D., founder of the National Institute for Play, said that we are designed to play throughout our lifetime, yet as adults, society tells us we're old and we can't play like we used to. We need to be serious and take responsibility.
But we should still play. Play increases our energy, our vitality, it promotes a sense of belonging and community. It also generates optimism and helps contextual memory development. There are so many benefits to play that we should all still have fun and do it throughout our lifetime. If you're having a hard time thinking of what to do for play, think about what you liked to do as a kid. Did you like to swim, or hike, or swing? Did you love to paint or draw, or build forts, or climb? Give it a try again, and connect with the emotion of how you felt while you were doing it. It usually is a key to what you should be doing and what you will enjoy now. And remember, play doesn't have to serve a purpose; in fact, if the purpose of it is more important than just playing, then it's probably not play.
So if you're reading this, I challenge you to play more. Get out this weekend and incorporate some play into your days. Play in the park with your dog. Go swing with your kids. Play tag. Paint, draw! Whatever it is, just play!
If you're interested in learning more about the National Institute for Play and their research, please visit their website here: http://www.nifplay.org/