The Power of Play

The Power of PlayIf it feels like you have less leisure time and fewer unstructured “play” hours in your life, you’re not alone. Consider these statistics: 

  • The average married couple works 26 percent longer each year than similar working couples did thirty years ago. 
  • Leisure time among children ages 12 and under has declined from 40 percent of a child’s day in 1981 to 25 percent of a child’s day in 1997, and about one in four American adults reports no leisure-time physical activity. 
  • A landmark Surgeon General’s Report identified lack of physical activity, including during leisure, as a serious health threat in the U.S. 

The late A. Bartlett Giamatti, former president of Yale University and one-time commissioner of Major League Baseball said, “You can learn more about a society by observing the way they play as opposed to how they work.” 

Our high tech life with its accelerated pace has fostered a culture that seems to be always working, always rushed, always connected. With cell phones interrupting the theater, laptop computers at the beach, internet connections at every other café and home offices that beckon us all hours of the night and day, it’s hard to separate “play” from “work.” Yet to maintain balance in our lives, and for our ultimate well-being, play is important. Lenore Terr, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of Beyond Love and Work: Why Adults Need to Play, argues that play is crucial at every stage of life. In play, we discover pleasure, cultivate feelings of accomplishment, and acquire a sense of belonging. When we play, we learn and mature and find an outlet for stress. “Play is a lost key,” Terr writes. “It unlocks the door to ourselves.” 

When we are completely involved in play our cares and worries disappear. Sailing, playing a game of tennis, or being thoroughly engrossed in a good novel, we feel pleasurably alive and light-hearted. Play allows us to be present in the moment. 

If you feel like you don’t have enough play time in your life (and who doesn’t), try these suggestions: 

1: Turn-off. Turn off the television, computer, beeper and cell phone for at least two hours a day. 

2: Let your mind wander. Recall what you used to enjoy doing or what you always wanted to do before we became so technology-oriented. 

3: Include others. Invite someone over to play, just like you used to when you were a kid. Nothing planned, nothing structured. Let your play evolve naturally. 

4: Think physical. Go for a walk, ride your bike, rent some skates, break out the croquet set from the basement, go for a swim or a run. 

5: Pretend. Pretend you don’t have any cares or worries. Pretend you have all the time in the world to laugh and play and enjoy. Pretend there is no moment other than this. 

Any time you have the choice of whether to work “just one more hour” or give yourself over to play, remember this advice from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” 

Author’s content adapted under license, © 2008 Claire Communications

About djwlifecoach

As a coach, author, speaker, singer, artist, consultant, radio host, Reiki Master and EFT/tapping practitioner, I share hope, possibilities and empowerment with the world. What's love got to do with minimizing stress and getting unstuck? Everything! My book, "Choose Your Energy: Change Your Life!" (Hay House/Balboa Press 2013) shares my story and the stories of 10 of my clients along with my signature Discovery Framework. During my 30 years as an organization transformation consultant, I served as a senior partner in four of the world's largest, most prestigious global professional services firms. In 2005, I took a five-year sabbatical to find healing and peace because non-stop work had taken its toll. My recovery from burnout, including a sustained 80-pound weight loss and freedom from 10 years of debilitating depression, led to finding my purpose guiding others on their journeys. Through healing and self-exploration, I discovered that loving yourself unconditionally is the key to transforming your personal life, your work and the world. With attention and intention, I learned to live in alignment with love through a wealth of energy-shifting tools and techniques that help me reduce stress, anxiety and overwhelm by releasing limiting beliefs, emotions and habits. My books, blog, radio show and signature coaching programs help individuals and organizations harness the transformative energy of love to turn unexplored possibilities into fulfilling realities and step into their greatness. To learn more about my work in the world, visit djwlifecoach.com. Subscribe to my blog at tiny.cc/djwblog. Listen to my radio show at tiny.cc/djwradio. View my author video and book trailer at tiny.cc/djwauthorvideo and tiny.cc/djwbooktrailer. Access 40+ tapping resources at tiny.cc/djwtaps. Send email to deborah@djwlifecoach.com. For fun, I love singing, reading, sewing, knitting and movies. I live in Williamsburg, Virginia with my husband, Wilson, and the three coaching cats who manage my life—SiddhaLee, Mortimer and Maisy Jane.
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