“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing” – Charles Schaefer
Have you ever sat and watched kids play? Sometimes they’re playing a sport and moving their muscles and other times they’re playing pretend and making up stories about characters or another planet. What does this accomplish? Why does it make them happy?
They’re using their imaginations, they don’t care about what else is going on and they’re fully present in what they’re doing! While being fully engrossed in play they are also learning. Some of our best, most memorable learning experiences are had through play.
When we get older and are told to, “act like an adult” we forget the importance of play. Play is an important foundation to creativity. Think about the last time you “played”, what were you doing? It could have been something like playing cards, playing golf or one of many “adult” games. Maybe you were playing make believe with a child. Whether or not you were playing quietly indoors or runny crazy outside, didn’t it feel good to laugh and giggle, to think outside the box? Isn’t it a great feeling when you can let go of the chaos for even just a few minutes, clear your brain and just enjoy the moment? What happened when you returned to work or your adult activities? Were you refreshed?
There are times when my son wants to play tag, soccer, basketball, hide-and-seek or some other activity. I must admit there are times when I really don’t feel like playing. I have all the same excuses you do, “too much to do”, “time to make dinner”, “I need to do the laundry” or sometimes I might just not feel like I have the energy to take him on in some crazy game. However, I make it a point to make time to play, not just for him, but for me too. We always end up laughing and giggling, sometimes so hard we have tears. Neither of us cares that we may not have a proper dinner, or that we may have to dig a little deeper to find something to wear because the laundry didn’t get done – we cherish the fact that we got to laugh and play together. I end up feeling energized, lighter and happy, he feels loved and happy. It’s nice to forget all the “stuff” going on and to just let go and laugh.
Play is also a great tool for employers. Bringing play into your organization will drive home learning points in a much more engaging fashion. There are many ways to do this such as putting facts into a Jeopardy style game, friendly competitions to get things done or using games as a team building exercise.
I encourage you to get out and play today. Do something fun, a little silly perhaps and liven up!