I meet many people who set goals to improve their health, their career, relationships with family and friends, and personal growth, confidence and insight. And many of us take such goals very seriously. Our society highly values work, achievement, and all of the rewards that come with it.
But how serious are we about playing? Have you considered setting a goal to play more? What play looks like varies for each individual. On the surface, a game of soccer or tennis may seem like play. If it meets Dr. Stuart Brown’s definition of play, “an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness and sense of time,“ it is play. Brown stated that true play is also something you are drawn to doing repeatedly, not that you feel you must do. Some play involves discomfort at times, but if the soccer or tennis game involves competition to the point of self-criticism, rumination, or if it is taken too seriously, it may not meet that definition at all. Likewise, one’s profession may be both work and play. Brown said that the opposite of play is not work, but depression. So we would be wise to consider how to implement more play into our lives.
Brown (2009) asserted that there are eight play personalities and he urges us to listen to and cultivate those areas of our lives:
“The Joker”- pursues play through nonsense and silliness
“The KInesthete”- pursues play through movement
“The Explorer”- uses exploration and adventure is the route to playing
“The Competitor”- likes specific rules and plays to win
“The Director”- enjoys planning scenes and events
“The Collector”- wants to have and hold the most interesting collection of objects or experiences
“The Artist”- finds a fulfilling experience of play when creating something
“The Storyteller”- uses imagination, reading, and stories of all kinds to experience play
Choose one that resonates with you and reconnect with a childlike, uninhibited ability to play. It is there. You just may need to take some time and effort to rediscover it, or continue doing more of what is already energizing and enjoyable to you. Set a goal to do something in the next week that accentuates your life with more play, and have fun!