But why did we, the adults, stop playing? What is at the heart of playing, and why is it good? How can we do it more?
Most of us in the States grew up with the Puritan work ethic, which values hard work and frugality. As Americans, we have a reputation for living to work. Many of us are perfectionists and tend to deny ourselves permission to do something unless we can do it perfectly, or it’s “productive”. We feel guilty if we’re just having fun.
Thanks to Stuart Brown, psychiatrist and founder of “The National Institute of Play,” there’s now ample scientific evidence showing the benefits of play in the animal kingdom. A neurologist discovered humans develop more emotional maturity and better decision-making skills when they play more.
Brown says, “Play energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.”
Play is pleasurable. It’s purposeless and fun. When we’re truly playing, we lose all sense of time and enter that flow state. Our spirit will always urge us to play, as our spirit is always seeking the highest feeling of joy and aliveness. It’s our mind that puts the brakes on: “Play is frivolous” “I don’t have time”…
So how do we get back to play?: There are five key ways:
1. Get into your heart energy and let-go of play saboteurs that come from the mind.
2. Remember back to when you were a kid having the most fun – what were you doing? How did you feel when you were playing? What would feel like fun now?
3. Look at role models to inspire you. Movies like “Harold and Maude” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” are wonderful for inspiring play. The author SARK is another one.
4. Give yourself permission. Let go of perfection and productivity and enjoy the process. Your only gauge should be how you’re feeling.
5. Invite your friends to play.
Chew quietly your sweet sugarcane God-Love, and stay playfully childish. – Rumi