The opposite of play is NOT work … it’s depression.
I’m currently reading a book called Play, written by medical doctor, researcher, psychiatrist and founder of the National Institute for Play, Stuart Brown.
I had heard of this book years ago, but finally picked it up off the shelf after talking with multiple people who have found themselves in the unenjoyable, relentless, and obsessive rat race, while earnestly telling themselves that they’ll play later, in a far-from-guaranteed-future.
At what point in our life do we start feeling guilty about taking a break? At what point in our life do we think that if it isn’t productive, if it isn’t making us money, or if it isn’t teaching us a skill, it’s no longer worthwhile? At what point in our life do we hand over our recess?
Maybe you’re reading this and rolling your eyes back in your head, thinking “I stopped having recess when I became an adult” or “I stopped playing because I don’t have time to play”.
In this book Dr. Brown suggests that play is actually one of the greatest catalysts for productivity and happiness. He says it is “the essence of freedom”.
Once people understand what play does for them, they can learn to bring a sense of excitement and adventure back to their lives, make work an extension of their play lives, and engage fully with the world.
Play can save your life.
Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organized around doing the things necessary for survival. Play is the stick that stirs the drink. It is the basis of all art, games, books, sports, movies, fashion, fun and wonder – in short, the basis of what we think of as civilization. Play is vital. It is what makes life lively.
When we stop playing, we stop developing, and when that happens, the laws of entropy take over.
This week, this year, this season of life – PLAY.