We encourage our children and young people to engage in play because we know that aside from being an enjoyable way for them to spend their time, it is through play that they learn life skills and develop cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally.
― Susan Linn (psychiatrist)
While playing is widely accepted as necessary in the development of children, there is also growing evidence that it is good for us as adults.
Playing, in its many forms, can lead to stress reduction, strengthen relationships and connections with others, be a great way to engage our creativity and follow our curiosities, and keep us physically active and feeling younger!
Intuitively I'm guessing we all would agree with the above list of benefits of playing (and could add to it), yet for some reason, as we age and life becomes a little more grown-up many of us stop engaging in playful activities.
Maybe the busyness of life gets in the way, or perhaps it is because we become more self-conscious about how we look - for whatever reason, play tends to be something we do less and less as we age.
Until this week!
This week's prompt is 'play', and I encourage you to throw yourself at some playful activity!
As with every week - follow the prompt where it takes you.
You might get out a board or card game with the family, or maybe it's time to get a jigsaw puzzle out, or maybe it's the week to get your tennis racquet out of the back of the closet, or maybe it will lead you to do some drawing, writing, drama or some other creative play.
How I've been 'Playing'
Over the last weeks, I've been 'playing' with artificial intelligence!
I've been hearing more and more about artificial intelligence in the fields of writing and image-making and was curious about them, but I had always felt too busy to explore the tools
But a few weeks ago, I had a quiet afternoon and started to play with an image-creating AI tool.
I only meant to do it for an hour or so, but before I knew it, it was dinner time and I'd been using the tool to create all manner of fun and playful images.
I had not felt quite so creative and alive for a long time!
I particularly enjoyed it because it's an incredibly playful and imaginative activity where the sky is the limit as to what you can create.
Since that day, I've fallen entirely into the rabbit warren of AI and have even started a brand new Instagram account to show some of what I've created with them!
I'm so glad I allowed myself to follow my curiosity and play for an hour 'or so' a few weeks back! It's opened up a fascinating world and let me into some beautiful new friendships.
Interestingly I feel like this playful activity has been something that has touched on many of the prompts I've written about in the last nine months, including those on creativity, curiosity, learning, joy, opportunity, connect, adventure and try (to name just some).
― Alan Watts
Dig Deeper into Play
If you have a few spare minutes, can I encourage you to watch this TED talk by 'play researcher' and psychiatrist Stuart Brown.
In it Stuart gives a wonderful introduction to the benefits of play, and what happens when people have a deficit of play and where he suggests some different types of play that may be beneficial for deciding what to do this week.
8 Play Personalities
I find Stuart Brown's work fascinating.
Over on his website (the National Institute for Play), he shares eight play personalities or archetypes that most people tend to see themselves in (we typically will have a favourite play personality but can, of course, experience play in multiple ways).
- The collector - where the joy of play is experienced in the having and holding collections of objects or experiences (stamps, coins, travel etc).
- The competitor - where the joy of play is experienced through a competitive game (sports, video games, board games etc). It also can be accessed by watching these activities.
- The Creator/Artist - where the joy of play is found in making things (painting, furniture restoration, gardening etc).
- The Director - where play is accessed through planning, organising and executing (party planning, launching a business, movie making etc).
- The Explorer - where the joy of play is found in exploration - whether it be physical (going to new places), emotional (exploring new types of music, film or relationships) or mental (researching, learning).
- The Joker - where the joy of play is accessed through some kind of foolishness. Telling jokes, goofing around, practical jokes etc.).
- The Kinesthete - where the joy of play is experienced through movement. Dance, sport, exercise).
- The Storyteller - where joy is experienced through the telling or performing of a story (writing, drama, movies, photography, magic tricks).
Which of these do you resonate with most? I tend to gravitate towards 'the creator', the collector and perhaps the director and storyteller.
Perhaps this week, it might be good to identify which play personality you resonate with most and also to explore some different play types.
What will you Play this week?
I'd love to hear about what you plan to play this week and hear how you go with it too! Let us know in our Facebook Group or in the comments section below!
― Roald Dahl,