Go outside and play!

April 8, 2008 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Play | 4 Comments
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“My dream is . . . “
“The thing I’m afraid to discover about my dream is . . . “
“If I actualize my dream, it will mean . . . “

These are the opening questions on one of the tools I generally ask my clients to complete in the first couple months of the Authentic Life process. For various reasons it’s not unusual for many people to feel unprepared to answer . . . but I think there’s one element that may make these questions seem especially challenging —

We’ve forgotten how to play. Or, perhaps, we never had a chance to learn.

A recent National Public Radio story by Alix Spiegel (“Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills”) reports on the negative effects on today’s children of limited or non-existent time for imaginative play. The kind of activity where kids have the freedom to create make-believe worlds, where they regulate their own play and make up their own rules.

You may have grown up being generously encouraged to play. Or you may have had little time to simply goof off because you were needed to work around the house, the yard, the family business, your church, or to care for family members. Much of your childhood may have been spent performing in sports or academic or beauty contests or, perhaps, you were busy with homework and lots of special classes and lessons.

Take a look at the pace of your adult life today. If you feel you’re always on the go without a moment to “play” (or relax or reflect or dream about what comes next in your life), ask yourself if your current choices are a continuation of choices that were made a long time ago.

As Spiegel notes, imaginative play fosters “concentration, effort, problem-solving, and task success” for children. Doesn’t it make sense that the same would be true for adults?

Good. Now go outside and play!

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  1. I remember building grass forts with my cousins in the long mustard grass in the hills of Fullerton . . . when I was about 9. Some of my best play-time!

  2. I think I heard this story on NPR also. Really interesting story and it got me to thinking. I don’t really play too often. It feels to me like it is necessary for me to work as much as possible and short of a trip once in a while there’s not much time for play. This is probably stemming from long ago also I think it comes from the need to make a living. I would like to play more but I find myself in this catch 22. If I play as much as I’d like I don’t work enough. If I work enough to pay my bills I don’t have time or energy to play. It feels crazy that this is how life seems to be right now. I’m sure it will change in time. So for now I try to be playful in my day to day as I make a living. And I will continue to pursue my goal of being as independent as possible so I can play (or take a fun trip) at the drop of a hat.

  3. My childhood was carefree. Literally. I suppose I made my bed, set the table, and helped with the dishes, but If I had real chores, or responsibilities, they never took much of my time. Besides, my grandmother lived with us and was Mother’s aide. School was fun, no burden, and I recall being out of the house hour after hour, with neighboring kids, or skating. It is safe to say that I knew how to play. With college and the working world comes responsibility, of course, but even during those years, I found time to relax, if not play. With the exception of a couple of years I found pleasure in working. And in my free time for a number of years found square dancers playful folk.

  4. For people like you, Chris, who are impassioned about and focused on many projects and life dreams, I think it’s an everlasting pursuit — seeking how to balance work and play, even when you love your work. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, it just speaks to the importance of being intentional about setting aside times to relax and laugh. You do a beautiful job, by the way, of exuding playful, fun energy, no matter what what you’re doing.

    Carol, you’re right. You DO know how to play, inspiringly so (:

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