5 Reasons Play Is Important
Before we learned to walk or talk, we were playing. Our caregivers made "goofy faces" to gt us to laugh and smile, we explored our environment with our eyes and ears and later, our hands and feet. Play is the important work of childhood. It taught us how we are perceived by others, allowed us to try different familial and career roles and gave us the skills of compassion and negotiation.
A world without play is hard to imagine. Play is responsible for the smart phones, Ipads and laptops, Youtube and Ted Talks, Facebook live and Instagram; Royals baseball, poems of Shakespeare, libraries and used book stores, astronauts and teachers, Google and fantasy vacations. family recipes and laughter.
Here are 5 reasons play is important:
1. Depression, not work, is the opposite of play. Work can be exciting, rewarding, challenging, creative and fun. Depression invites apathy, sapping our energy and willingness to care. "Play is the straw that stirs the drink of life. It invigorates the soul" (Dr. Stuart Brown, author of PLAY).
2. Playing is fun, enjoyable and done for its own sake. It just feels good! No agenda, just enjoying the moment and being alive.
3. Research shows deprivation of play in childhood is a common theme among mass murderers. Free play during childhood allows children to consider different solutions to their problems and practice "perspective taking", increasing the ability to show sympathy and empathy for another person.
4. "People that play together, stay together." A common quality of satisfying marriages is a sense of friendship and playfulness. Flirtation, laughter and smiling are all aspects of play and share a feeling of excitement and fun.
5. Play creates "happy memories" in our brain - times when we are having fun, enjoying life and feeling connected to others. "13 Reasons Why' depicts the suicide of a 17 year old, a teen disconnected from life and the people around her. Play lets us be superheroes, defeating our personal dragons. What if she had believed in herself or trusted her parents to listen, without judgment.
Until next time.
Sara Minges, LPC
"13 Reasons Why" is a Netflix series documenting a teen's suicide. Severe depression, the type that leads to suicide, is a result of a lack of play and connection with others, sprinkled with self-doubt, internal judgment, isolation and lack of hope.
Our clients respond well
Play is the "single most important factor" in overcoming depression and achieving mental health. Transcending all languages and cultures, it is the straw that stirs the drink of life. Dr. Stuart Brown, author of PLAY, How It Shapes the Brain, Invigorates the Soul and Opens the Imagination, believes play is the opposite of depression. Play is responsible for flirtation, music, art, poetry, love, excitement, joy, passion, laughter, humor and gives life meaning.
SECRET SAUCE OF HAPPINESS
What is happiness and can it be bought? Can money buy happiness? According to a Harvard University study, we are happiest when we are in the present moment, no matter what we are doing (The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success, 2016).
Happiness is a state of mind we often strive for; a sense of bliss fueled by positivity, excitement and enjoying the experience, without judgment. It requires a mindful, playful awareness of the present moment and a conscious effort to only focus on the present moment.
Your body wants new, novel experiences to be happy! These experiences light up the emotion centers of your brain, releasing "feel good" chemicals. These possibilities also hold the promise of a much longer state of happiness in the anticipation of new events, experiences and memories of these experiences (Pamela Madsen, Huffington Post blogger and author of, "Shameless: How I Ditched the Diet, Got Naked, Found New Pleasure and Somehow Got Home in Time To Cook Dinner").
MORE TRAVEL, PLEASE!
Some of my happiest memories involve traveling with loved ones or being engaged in new, fun experiences. In 2015, I took a trip to Italy, my ideal vacation. Milan, Verona, Venice, Florence, Montepulciano (city where parts of The Twilight series were filmed). I loved the excitement, energy, good will, smiles and patience from the Italians. A lover of pasta, pizza, cafe and vino, I