We’re days away from Memorial Day weekend and here in the Pacific Northwest we are finally seeing little glimpses of Spring & Summer with sunny days and warmer temps.  Lawnmowers are mowing, yard sale signs are signing and hoses are hosing.  When the sun is out, we are pretty good at getting our tushies outside because we know this glorious season is short-lived.  But unfortunately, what I don’t see enough of when I go outside is PLAY. I want to see more people, particularly adults, playing.

Why?

Because our lives depend on it.

Yes, I said it.  Our lives depend on us  p l a y i n g.  According to author and psychiatrist, Dr. Stuart Brown, play is a “biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition. We are designed by nature to flourish through play.”  Our brains are hard-wired to play. He defines play as “purposeless, fun and pleasurable.”  Play is everywhere, but we don’t always take notice let alone participate.  Play is in our art, books, movies, theater, music, parks, comedy, flirting, dancing, cartwheeling….it surrounds us, but we are blind to it.  Or we assume it’s just for kids. But it’s not just for kids.  We need play to get the creative juices flowing, for problem solving and managing stress.  Play also helps us develop relationships because when we play, we are open to joy.  And when we experience joy, the mind and body relax and we become less afraid of each other.  We are in the moment. The infamous present moment.  And we know by now that being in the present moment is just good for the brain.  The monkeys in our brain stop jumping and when that happens, we have clarity.  We have peace.  We have connection.

But, Lisha… I don’t have time to play.  I work full time, am a parent and there’s so much that needs to get done first.  I get it.  Life is crazy busy.  But I’m not talking about a two hour game of basketball every night (although there’s nothing wrong with that).  A little bit goes a long way.  Play can be defined in so many wonderful ways.  Maybe you’ve always enjoyed writing or you’ve always wanted to get back to painting.  If you do have kids, play time is easy….even if it’s just a Nerf gun battle in the backyard.  If you have little ones, play time can consist of rolling down a grassy hill or washing the car while “accidentally” spraying each other with the hose.  If you have pets, let them show you how to play.  In fact, check out this video link of animals playing….for no other reason than to just play!.

Shoot, just writing this blog is playful for me, especially as I look out my window and appreciate the colors of spring…

How can you incorporate a little more play into your life?

P.S. Dr. Stuart Brown’s TED Talk from 2008 on the neuroscience and research behind play.  His book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul is available at Amazon.

P.S.S. Here’s another fun video of pandas playing.