Our instincts were wrong.

Whenever we graduated high school, college, or whatever time it was that we decided that play is a frivolous luxury that adults don't get to enjoy anymore, we were wrong.

Wrong, in fact, to a fault, because eliminating play is not only no fun, it is also bad for our mental, emotional and intellectual capacities, and it can hinder creativity.

Finding our way to a state where we are lost in play, as New Belgium would say, 'Following our folly', is good for us in so many different ways.

So, first, let me state that I get it. The speed of the modern world, the pressures of providing for our families, the hectic competitiveness of it all, it can make play seem like the last thing we should be doing with our time. I really do get it.

However, from our health to our levels of creativity to reducing stress, finding time to zone out and think about nothing, to play with nothing else on our minds is very, very good for us, and for those around us.

Emma Sappälä of Stanford University published an article in the Washington Post recently on the merits of play, unplugging, and finding stillness. Part of the benefits comes from giving our minds and bodies something different. If we are constantly managing a home, then stressed at work, then back managing a home over and over again, the regularity of it becomes stagnating. Diversity of activity and thoughts, according to her article, is very good. And nothing is more diverse as going from doing everything to doing absolutely nothing.

She says:

Truly successful people don’t come up with great ideas through focus alone. They are successful because they make time to not concentrate and to engage in a broad array of activities like playing golf.


In a conference in 2005 called "Play=Learning: How play motivates and enhances children’s cognitive and social-emotional growth" Dorothy Singer from Yale, Roberta Michnick-Golinkoff of the University of Delaware and Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek of Temple University showed that play is good for just about everything. Click through to this page and you'll be amazed at the lists of things play enhances. From creativity and problem solving to communication skills and concentration, it is being found that play is absolutely essential for kids, and almost as essential for adults.

Play helps with the epidemic of childhood obesity, too

Colorado State is currently doing a study on ways to cut down on childhood obesity. It's a big study that is funded by the U.S. government, includes Colorado University and the UCHealth's Anschutz Medical Campus. It's a great interview, and if you want to get right to the part about the importance of play, it's at 2:45.

The gist of that part emphasizes that it's very important for adults to play so that kids can properly learn to do the same.

The way we view play, as you can see, is shifting. It feels like it is going from something that we thought we weren't supposed to do, especially as adults, to something that we really must do. How cool!

So, how do I find a school, and a job, with recess?

Some bosses understand the need for playfulness, others come from the school of no fun allowed. As understanding of this paradigm becomes more popular, it's going to be easier and easier to find the time that you need to yourself. If you are not so lucky to have such a situation, it's incumbent on you to find the time.

It may be a struggle in the beginning. Making or breaking habits isn't easy. However, once that ball starts rolling, it will pick up steam. The added creativity and imagination, once initiated, could spur you on to find even better ways to unplug, ones that are more convenient and enjoyable, and hopefully it will snowball from there.

The moral of the story is that play is one of our best bets to more success, and will probably make the journey that much more fun!