PREVIOUS: Adult Play (Part 1)
SITE: “The Power of Play” (long article) Having fun is no trivial pursuit. A look at the value of play and the state of leisure time.
QUOTE: “It is utterly false and cruelly arbitrary to put all the play and learning into childhood, all the work into middle age, and all the regrets into old age. ~ Margaret Mead
EMOTIONAL / PSYCHOLOGICAL /SOCIAL Benefits
Reduce Struggle, Conflict, and Worry – Studies have revealed that play acts as an antidote to violent tendencies and is a powerful catalyst for positive socialization. Play, by definition, includes using ones imagination & ability to fantasize. People who avoid or have never learned to play may become lost in the world of fear, anger, and obsessive worry.
• Alice Miller points out that people who have consistently been deprived of developing an inner fantasy life by ongoing childhood neglects & abuse are missing the ability to process rage & frustration in their internal world. This makes them more likely to become violent toward others, even to the point of murder.
Play provides us with an opportunity to choose alternatives to struggle, conflict, and worry – alternatives that are healthier, more positive & promote a sense of belonging and connection to other people.
Heals emotional wounds, with mutual play – We know now that PLAY positively shapes children’s brains & predicts their emotional health.
When adults play together, they get the same benefits. Vigorous play triggers endorphins that lift our spirits & provide distractions that distance us from pain, fear, stress…& when done with others, whether friends or strangers, can help us connect in delightful & meaningful ways that banish loneliness.
• Regular play can also heal hurts, resentments & disagreements. Studies show that emotionally insecure people slowly replace negative beliefs and behaviors with positive ones by living with a secure partner.
Emotionally safe, fulfilling relationships heal, which in turn create emotional resiliency.
Provides ‘role relief’ – This doesn’t refer to the ACoA Toxic Roles we were forced into by a dysfunctional family system. It is the normal set of roles adults take on, such as worker, boss, spouse, parent, sibling, adult-child….
Play allows us to guard against ‘role fatigue’ (burned out). Taking the time to balance out these roles allows for a variety of self-expression – using different pars of our personality, and makes room to practice new types of activities. Getting stuck in one role, such as of ‘mom’ or ‘worker’ can reduce our sense of spontaneity and aliveness.
Provides Opportunities to Take Risks – We already know how risk-averse ACoAs are (see posts) – or self-destructively risk addicted. To be successful & happy we need to learn the difference between safe & unsafe risk AND take healthy risks in smaller doses. Then each new scary action can be book-ended with the kid – to prove that the right kind of risks usually turn our OK, even great. Avoiding all risk is coping out, waiting to be taken care of.
• However, we can learn that accepting risk is an essential part of a full and healthy life. Play teaches us that our fear-based ideas are untrue. Playing lets us experiment, explore and take risks with ideas & activities without worrying about consequences that could happen in “real life.”
A great thing is that everyone’s successful at it. It is a time to feel good about yourself and each other–and to just have fun.
Brings joy into our life – A basic reasons for playing is simply the sheer joy of it, a happy state of being. Jumping into and out of the world of play on a daily basis (or as often as possible) can preserve and nourish our own hearts & the heart of our community. Healthy Play creates laughter, joy, and a feeling of inner peace, encouraging emotional resiliency. It is almost impossible to stay stuck, angry or frustrated when playing “hide and seek”, or acting out the role of the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz ,or making mud pies while digging your feet into the sand of a big old-fashioned sandbox.
A Sense of Lightness – Keeping in mind that we are made up of Physical, Mental, Emotional & Spiritual(PMES) components, we can look at the S. aspect of play too.
The spiritual benefits of play are not easy to verbalize since people give different meanings to what ‘spiritual’ means to them & therefore the value of play at this level. It’s a very important aspect of our personal well-being, part of our right to develop a healthy Self. From childhood we begin giving meaning to life through story making & playing out various possible scenarios. As adults the ability to play and be active in things that suit our True Self strongly promote a sound lifestyle.
• Being absorbed in fun activities eliminates self-consciousness, as we’re caught up in the moment. Permeated with pleasure, we delight in the sheer lightness of being, stimulating our creativity.
Spiritual benefits can mean that we: love being alive, have a positive attitude & live the best way we can // have a deeper understanding of the world and its possibilities
Spiritual benefits include: refreshing & recharging us // restoring our optimism // changing our perspective // renewing our ability to accomplish the work of the world
Enhances our Humanity – There’s new evidence that play has value on a broad scale. (see: ‘Play Experts‘). It may in fact be the highest expression of our humanity, both imitating and advancing the evolutionary process. Play appears to allow the brain to exercise its very flexibility, maintaining and renewing the neural connections that embody our human potential to adapt, and meet any possible set of environmental conditions. Play is an opening to our very being.
Preserves the physical world – Recreation & leisure can also protect the environment, as it gives us a reason to keep our surroundings clean, which promotes a healthier planet.
NEXT: Why ACoAs Lie – #1