Nonsense - The Perception of Play

How many of us loved the idea of summer? School was nearing an end, and every day was moments closer to swimming, biking, hiking, and ultimately everything nature-filled! Kids love the concept of play, it doesn’t matter what type of play, as there can be enjoyment found in any type; bug-catching, fishing, summer sports, camping, delicious s’mores making, you name it. At what point do we become so busy as adults that we lose sight of that adventure, that playful summer feeling? In this day-to-day commotion we are living in, as adults we lose sight of that spark to get out and adventure.

For many adults this idea of play is perceived as unproductive time spent. Perception’s effect on the communication process, is all about how the same message can be interpreted differently by different people. Yet, let’s take a second to see the benefits of play so we can all perceive this idea in similar light.

According to Scott G Eberle, Ph.D, vice president for play studies at The Strong and editor of the American Journal of Play, “We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up.” Play is engagement in any activity that provides enjoyment--this can be in recreational form and doesn’t have to have a specific purpose but for the enjoyment factor. Play is self-chosen, it creates an ecstatic feeling of liberty. Play facilitates connections between strangers, it brings a smile that can’t be achieved the same way as sitting behind a desk. Lack of play helps couples rekindle relationships and form bonds of emotional intimacy. With so many reasons to engage in play, why as adults do we have the perception that play is unproductive?

With continuing research in the field of positive psychology it is a fact that when we are happy--when our mindsets and mood are positive--that we are smarter, more productive, more motivated and therefore more successful. “Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it,” (Achor, 2010). Play produces the “happy” factor.

Let’s tie all of this together- if play provides that happy factor, and happy people are more motivated and successful, then why do we perceive play as unproductive? Let’s take that notion of play and see it as the plus side to our success. Our success in our family, our relationships, our continuing education and in our careers.

Just as a child is eager to get out and play, we as adults should fulfill that need. That anxious feeling when summer is in full swing; that urge to get outside and take in every opportunity to adventure. Our sense of adventure can be diving into a good book while out on a back porch, sipping an ice cold lemonade, or it may be working up a sweat while rock climbing off Angels Landing. No matter the adventure you seek, keep creating memories that you’ll miss out on if you hesitate and come up with reasons on why you can’t get out. Find them, don’t let play escape you at any age. Children hold so much inspiration in the way they crave to play, get out and inspire too.

I want to know what play means to you? Why do you (or we) play? Share your responses that keep this inspiration going-


APA Citations:

Brown, S. L., & Vaughan, C. C. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York: Avery

Achor, S. (2010). The happiness advantage: The seven principles of positive psychology that fuel success and performance at work. New York: Broadway Books.