Remember How To Play In Life
Many years ago, I can remember being a kid and just wondering who was going to be available to play after school. There were not many things that were more important to my elementary school self than what I would play, where I would play and who would be available to play with. Growing up in the town of Greenville, Maine, Tuesdays were always a difficult day because the bulk of my colleagues were Catholic and they had to go to Catechism, which significantly cut into my options. I often urged some of my friends to skip their religious instruction for a rousing game of kickball or football or anything outside that involved a game of some kind.
I was fortunate to have a built-in playmate in my brother who was only a bit more than a year younger than me, and we always had Joel Wortman. I can remember us getting home from school watching a little TV, eating a snack and then playing until the call to dinner would end our fun. If there was a game, we played it. For whiffle ball, we arranged the back yard like a Fenway, with the house being the “green monster”, the rock in the ground was first base, the worn patch was second and we would throw something down for third. There was never a complaint or a problem with the facilities. It was the game that counted.
Play was such an important part of our lives that I wonder how it ever faded away, but it definitely did. As you grow older it becomes less and less a part of your life as you move into the “fun” of adulthood, the games of youth are left behind. As young adults the opportunities for play are plentiful, but most of us confuse competition with play. See any adult softball league to see this factor in action, too worried about winning a game that should be enjoyed just for being played. Like many things as adults we forget what is important and that is just playing.
I enjoy playing golf because it gives you the opportunity to get outside, move around, socialize with your friends and just play. Golf is only hard when you worry about how well you are playing, and much like life, golf is a game that can’t be won, only played.
Many people have play in their heart, and when they have children of their own, the spirit comes back out and they now have the approval of society to play again, like they did when they were young. Some of the best parents I have known didn’t forget how to play.
Without researching too very hard here are some of the benefits that you can gain right now from playing.
Play Provides Connections to Others
As you play any game with someone else there is a connection that is made. A shared memory or experience created through play will be carried with you through the laughter and joy that you share with someone else. Play has also been shown to help develop compassion, trust, and the ability to connect with others.
Play Helps You Learn About People
There are many social skills that are keenly honed through play. Creativity, acceptance, tolerance, risk-taking, social etiquette are just some of the lessons that playing has taught me, and I assume can teach anyone.
Play Makes You Happy
When you play you will find that it is difficult to be mad, sad or otherwise pissed off at anyone. I am told that this is because endorphins are released into your bloodstream resulting from play. I know that it is impossible not to smile when you are truly enjoying playing.
I wasn’t sure if I remembered correctly or not, and the only way that I could know for sure was to actually try to play. It was harder than you might think to find a venue to play where you are allowed to be yourself and not interfere with anyone else. Then I really focused on playing and having fun and surprise, surprise it was better than I remembered. I played catch, ran around and climbed trees, which was not as easy as I remember, but really a lot more fun. I mean it has been over 30 years since I tried to climb a tree.
My advice to you is that you take a moment or two and play with all your heart. You will remember what it is like to have fun.