We Need Play! Start Your Play Journey Today

by Nina Meehan

Without play, we cannot find joy or happiness. We need play. But, as adults, almost none of us prioritize play. We calendar in time for exercise and work and we might find ourselves mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching the latest streaming content, but play rarely becomes a conscious choice day to day. Look at your calendar right now and see if you can find any evidence of prioritizing play. Are there portions of your day blocked out for meaningless fun? Socialization with no practical purpose? Games and activities that are not for the betterment of anyone or anything?

The benefits of play include connecting with your creative self, noticing the world around you and appreciating beauty, finding enthusiasm, hope for the future, laughter, stress reduction, improving mood, connecting with others. 

Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play has identified eight different types of play personalities. Do any of these resonate with you? For most of us, it will likely be more than one.  

  • The Joker: Play is about nonsense or foolishness. Clowning around, funny noises and jokes are this person’s fun
  • The Kinesthete: The ones who move and push their own physical selves for fun. Hikers, skiers, yogis, acrobats, dancers, basketball players are all kinesthetes. 
  • The Explorer: Play is about discovery both in the physical, intellectual and spiritual realms. 
  • The Competitor: For the competitor, the fun comes from competition and the battle to WIN!  The rules matter because it gives the structure for the competition. 
  • The Director: The organizers who throw the best barbecues or plan the group camping trip. The Directors are planners and create exquisite experiences for themselves and others. 
  • The Collector: The collector likes to acquire and search for items within a specific category and/or collect specific types of experiences. 
  • The Artist/Creator: Play for this person is creating something artistic or functional.  From building robots to painting or sculpting, the artist/creator is driven to make.
  • The Storyteller: The storyteller lives in his or her imagination. Either by writing or creating worlds or inhabiting them through watching theatre, movies or reading novels, this person finds their play through the magic of story. 

It’s quite likely that you find play in a number of these categories. But, being aware of them will help you identify what kind of play you can pursue! It’s time to bring play back into our day. Even in small amounts. And play that connects to creativity, has the power to change our mood, change our minds and change our meaningful relationships.

This article first published in The Piedmont Post May 8, 2023.