Having spent a sun soaked Canada Day long weekend boating off a nearby coastal island we came back to Vancouver to a neighborhood street party. Folks of all ages, many new to the ‘hood, had gathered, and the BBQ was pumping out all sorts of deliciousness. Within moments all the kids were off rollicking and playing kickball. Someone mentioned how amazing it was that the kids got down to the matter of play so quickly and effortlessly. It then struck me, that there was an important lesson here. Many grown ups forget to play. But play, it turns out, is just as important for adults as it is for children.
We don’t play enough
According to research, adults spend too little time at play and would benefit greatly from spending more time at it. At work, for example, adult play delivers on these key fronts:
- Alleviates boredom.
- Releases tension.
- Prevents aggression (Note: Wow, do I ever know a few CEOs who should play more…)
- Fosters workgroup solidarity
- Facilitates organizational learning
- Boosts creativity
- Enhances adaptivity and attentiveness.
Play gives us a (much needed) break
Have you ever wanted a break from your role as Mom, Dad, Boss or Master of the Universe? Adults need “role relief” and “role variety” just as much as kids. In fact, spending time in a palate of roles guards against role fatigue by providing role relief. And who couldn’t use a little role relief now and again? Getting stuck in one role can reduce your sense of spontaneity and feelings of aliveness. Play gives you rest, relief and rejuvenation. It is the gateway to vitality.
I don’t think play ever leaves us. I think that it is always there; it’s just that, for many, it is simply something that we lose touch with. For sure, the pressures and stresses of being an adult can whip the will to play out of you…but at what cost?