The Truth about Play
Why We Should
Jill Murphy Long

Play is part of being human, yet it remains an elusive part of many people's lives.  Studies have proven play is a major factor in the appropriate development of social, emotional, mental, and physical growth for children.  But what happens when we stop playing as adults?  Are we stunting our own growth?  Why do humans play?  Is it a requirement of survival like breathing, eating, and sleeping?

Play introduces the concept of "balance" in a busy life; it encourages people to seek solitude in nature and allocate time for daily laughs.  Humor is needed to reaffirm our humanity and sanity.  Laughter releases tension and stress, and builds rapport among those it touches.  It is through our play that we are reintroduced to both once again.

In this time spent developing, challenging, and nurturing the authentic self, the promise of play--happiness--will be found.

Play encourages interaction, risk-taking, and the use of imagination.  Abstract thinking and creativity are explored, and social, language, and mental skills are mastered, as self-worth is strengthened.  The value of dedication and practice is also learned.  As such competencies are developed, these skills cross over to other aspects of life.

Based on these inherent benefits of play, recess should be reinstated for those over the age of ten.  Until that day--why not decide to make play a frequent event in your life and add an hour or two of active play and creative expression to each week?  It may seem like child's play at first, but once the magic starts, there will be no question that this is what your spirit needs.

Genuine play occurs when you lose sight of yourself and your life for the moment.  You are totally immersed in whatever physical or creative activity with no awareness of the passing of time.  You are truly awake and alive.  For some people, play may be more physical.  For others, it is a creative outlet for expression.  However, both types of play can satisfy our basic need for curiosity, exploration, and fun.

In the choice for a long and healthy life, playing is not just an option, but also a natural element of each day.  Moving the body is as crucial as eating and sleeping.  It is a proven fact that increased physical activity--a hike, jog, or a round of tennis--results in increased "smarts."  Physical activity is an essential part of long-term health.  As play is added to your days, you will begin to see that the amount of time spent playing is in direct correlation with the amount of energy you have.  Your newfound interest will also keep mood swings in check, help manage stress, and build a stronger immune system.

Play is so good for our bodies.  No matter your size, shape, weight, or height, adding play to your life will improve your self-image.  When we become too busy to play, we fall prey to diet fads or bad habits like smoking.  Playing hard and eating well will do wonders not only for your temperament, but for your body, too. . . .

The biggest tragedy facing us today is. . . the missing awareness of the mind-body connection.  This is why play, through both active and creative expression, is so important.  Play is meant to draw us closer to our own reflection, to see what is really inside our complicated yet beautiful selves.  The desire to move, the desire to create, is and should be a required element of every person's day.  It is the truth behind what makes us who we are.

Be yourself.  Be your complete and authentic self--not what you think others want you to be or what society pressures us to be.  Express yourself with your body and your mind by being you, the person who you are supposed to be.  Use your time, energy, and money not on dieting, but on passionate living achieved by body-moving activities and mind-engaging interests.

From the author of Permission to Nap comes another reason to relax and have fun. Permission to Play encourages women to carve out the time in their busy lives for fun, whether it's sports, crafts and other creative activities, or card and board games. When we play, we relax, we feel silly, we rejoice and we may just get in better shape. Full of whimsical ideas, fun tips and useful, nothing-but- enjoyable activities you may never have thought of, plus encouragement to make this essential happiness ingredient a part of your life, Permission to Play includes many ways to just let loose.

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Why is play so elusive for some grown-ups?  Because we are so
strongly attracted and attached to a profoundly goal-oriented,
work-ethic-driven society.  Like other forms of non-work, play
connotes wastefulness, a stoppage in the way of what needs
to get done.  Yet often what really needs to get done has more
to do with our hearts and spirits and less to do with a deadline
or longstanding project.  Play beckons to us, urging us to live in
the present moment, a moment that becomes more luminous
when we disallow interruptions like work and worry.

Leslie Levine



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The real joy of life is in its play.  Play is anything we do for the
joy and love of doing it, apart from any profit, compulsion,
or sense of duty.  It is the real living of life with the feeling
of freedom and self-expression.  Play is the business of childhood,
and its continuation in later years is the prolongation of youth.

Walter Rauschenbusch


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