Playing reigns as one of the most important ways we can spend time on this planet. It’s also one of those things that gets pushed aside with the old plastic containers that are missing lids and shoved in that cupboard that nobody can find things in–or worse yet, the trash. I could muster research to prove how important play is in our lives, in our relationships, in our own personal development and creativity, but down deep, I don’t think that’s necessary.
The action item, instead, is to figure out how you like to play. Do you like to play alone or with others? I’m an only child so learned to love my alone time. It’s probably one of the reasons I love to write. But I also LOVE to play with other people. Tangential play. Interactive play. All of it. It’s one of my core values. I often have friends tell me, “You know how to play better than anybody I know.” I consider that a high compliment, because in play, comes learning, creativity, and connection. There isn’t a right or wrong way. Just ask yourself how you like to play.
Then, where is your playground? A Pisces by sun and moon, mine is the water. Here’s a water cave at the Mauna Lani Spa in Hawaii where my husband and I recently had a Watzu massage, a form of Shiatsu in the water. It’s like a water dance, stretch, baby-in-the-womb kind of thing. Snorkeling (though preferably without a shark next time), swimming, floating in a lake, and long shower baths–great play places. On my vision board this year I wrote, “Play like the dolphins 365 days a year.” They dive in the water and jump around just for fun. You can feel the joy emanate off them. They don’t need anything other than water and each other to have a good time.
If you’ve forgotten how to play, watch a child explore an airport or a playground. They find wonder in the smallest details adults often miss. Watch a puppy, or an animal of any kind, after it wakes up and gets going. We watch our dog go through the process of figuring out what she will play next. (Walk is her favorite game!)
Kids and animals are both great teachers and you’ll learn from them. When I worked as a marketing director for lawyers it seemed so many of my individual conversations with them came back to this concept: they had forgotten how to play without self-destructing. Once they incorporated healthy play back into their personal lives, their lives blossomed.
Play has much competition. Student loan debt, mortgage, careers, families, the chatter voice that rehearses our to-do list, our community service–all these demand placement on the Google calendar. But it’s all a choice. Choose to give play a place there, too. It’s good for you.