Somehow after we turned 6 or 7 years old, we begin to eliminate the concept of play from our daily lives. This is unfortunate, as we learn more through playing than we do through school. This is no more apparent than looking at the faces of young kids during recess and then comparing them during math class – they went from being happy, engaged and enthusiastic to either close to passing out or so bored they are beginning to day dream and try to find new ways to play.
Fast forward to adult life, and the concept of play is long forgotten, believed to be nothing more than a waste of time. Remember Mary Poppins? She understood the concept of play, and by the end of the movie the bank manager was laughing his ass off and everyone was headed to fly a kite. In reality, most people’s version of play is watching a funny movie or a funny television show rather than actually doing something fun themselves. They have probably forgotten how.
One of the best features of play is that it allows you to develop a sense of imagination. Little kids can find something fun to do with a cardboard box, where an adult needs some form of external stimulation. Play also lets us problem solve and develop broader thought processes. As problem solving is a major component to success in the world today, I would say it is important to have as much as possible, so by limiting our own play we may be hindering our personal and professional development (maybe a stretch, but it’s my blog).
So some of the key features of play are that it has to be unstructured, meaning there aren’t any sets, reps, or recovery intervals, etc. It also has to be without boundaries (ex. coloring outside the lines), and easily accessible, meaning minimal to no equipment, or equipment that can be used for anything (like the cardboard box). Last but not least, it has to be enjoyable, otherwise it’s no longer play but a chore.
So I’m going to lay a big challenge on you all now. I want to get you to try to play. It could be anything, with anyone, and with anything. There are no time constraints, there are no boundaries, and there are no rules. Scared yet? You shouldn’t be, because this will be fun, and remarkably healthy for you. If you need an exmple on how to play, watch some children (not too closely, though), or watch a couple of dogs. They don’t have any concerns about the rules, or about what is impossible, or what is even real. Wanna be a space man cowboy ninja from the planet Awesome?? Go right ahead, and use this cardboard box as a space ship.
Everyone ready?? let’s play!! 🙂