Why I Want To Play

I remember when life was simple. When all I had on my to do list was 100 keepy uppy’s. God I didn’t know I was born, hours kicking a ball around until 3 mins after mum put warm food on the table and shouted “It’s getting COLD!!!”.

If only that kid could understand the freedom he was afforded and do something wiser that built toward a stronger adulthood. If only I could warn him about what’s to come he’d be learning how to turn a profit from life and and and…

Wrong. It’s me the adult that’s got it twisted. I work too much. Then I read about how to work better. Refine my plans of how to work more in less time, during my extra hours of work. Daydream through 10 to 30 mins of Facebook ‘research’, then tell myself off for reading some pointless filler…

“Play is as basic and as pervasive a natural phenomenon as sleep”

National Institute For Play ( http://www.nifplay.org/)

Play is part of us and if you deny yourself obvious play because you’re an adult it will find a way to seep out more subtly. Competitive relationships, knee jerk selfishness, fixating on media…

Mammals denied opportunity to play find it hard to socialise with their pack and easily revert to aggressive behaviors when challenged. Reintroduce play and they manage situations without violent response. In humans it’s subtler, mostly, but I know I snap respond to things on a daily basis that I would do differently given a moments extra thought.

 “Waste the minutes and waste your life” yeah, but no. You can’t defend facebook per se. But you can defend the kid. He’s focused, it’s you that’s wasting time.

Yes, you’re old. You still have a need for play. It doesn’t necessarily have to be physical play, there are many ways to stroke a cat, but if you don’t indulge your inner child expect them to show up somewhere demanding your attention. Problem solving, creativity and story-telling are all play.

If you have a physical play it’s a win-win as you’re using muscles ‘functionally’ and burning dem calories. Dust off the table tennis bat, dance round your room in your pants, walk round your local park (get dressed), climb a wall…

The easy way to decide is ask yourself am I a little EXCITED to do xxxx?

All this focus on mindfulness as you battle to “find 10 mins to be present” and he had it down from the start. It couldn’t possibly be as simple as kicking a ball could it?




If you’re interested in the science check out PLAY by Stuart Brown, M.D. and Christopher Vaughan “A ground breaking book on the science of play, and its essential role in fuelling our intelligence and happiness throughout our lives.”


Brown, S.L. Play as an Organizing Principal: Clinical Evidence and Personal Observations,” Chapter 12 in Animal Play, edited by Bekoff and Byers, Cambridge University Press, 1998.

James Hardy