Go Play! -The Tenth Tenet

WTen Tenets of Wellness.  We’ve looked at these powerful guidelines to living a life full of meaning and one in which physical health is important, and also part of a greater whole.

This is the last of the tenets, Go Play!   Here’s a question: When was the last time you really played? If you are like most adults, you may be waiting for someone to give you ‘permission’ to lighten up or some time in the future when you aren’t so busy.

But guess what? That permission comes from within you.  You can even make a conscious effort (Tenet No. Four) to bring humor and playfulness to work with you.

As an adult you may be wondering, what does play mean?  The definition of play is the same, whether you are nine or ninety: play is an activity that you do for enjoyment and recreation, rather than for a serious or practical purpose. So it’s not really the activity itself that defines play but why you are doing it.

Dr. Stuart Brown, a clinically trained psychiatrist, heads up the National Institute of Play. In a 2014 interview with National Public Radio he explains “Play is something done for its own sake,” he explains. “It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

For adults, play is a very individual thing. For some people, play could be stamp collecting or reading books and for others, it could mean biking, hiking or boating. A 2017 study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences underscores that not all adults play alike and classifies adults who are playful into distinct four types.

These playful adult types are Other-directed, Lighthearted, Intellectual or Whimsical. Other-directed people are those who like to hang out with friends, family and colleagues. Lighthearted adults are those who don’t think much about the future consequences of their play. Intellectual adults are those who like to play with ideas and thoughts, and Whimsical adults are those who are interested in strange or unusual things and also get enjoyment from everyday observations.

Play can be part of ‘serious business’ as well. Google, the giant of the search engine world, has long recognized play as an adjunct to helping its employees be more innovative, and to foster team building and cooperation. They were one of the first big companies to set up ‘play stations’ and scatter them around their campus, featuring ping pong and foosball tables as well as billiards.

So how can you incorporate more play into your life? One way is to think of activities you enjoyed as a child, then find ways to bring a version of that back into your adult life.

Another way is to schedule lessons in something you think you’d enjoy learning, such as fencing or horseback riding. Or schedule a date with a friend to explore a new city or a museum.

The important thing is not what you do, but that you do it for fun. Now go out and play!

And if you want to share your thoughts on how you play, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear!

Make the most of January!

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