Today, Let Us Make Time to Play

Written by on May 16, 2016 in Accountability with 48 Comments

Make the Time to Play

Can you remember the last time you engaged in some activity that could be defined as “play” (that didn’t involve sitting in front of a screen), for no particular reason other than the pure enjoyment of it?

If you think about it, life is a lot like filter paper. When we’re young the paper is thin and lets almost everything through. The smallest discovery is an adventure waiting to happen and we’re filled with the pure wonder of it all as we play, squeal, laugh and shout out our joy for all to hear.

But the paper gradually grows thicker with age and the pores get smaller and as a result, we see less and less of the magic of the world around us. Along the way, we’re socialized to believe that too much enthusiasm can be, well, embarrassing and we should be calm and contained.

In time, it may seem as though we’ve lost our ability to play, but that isn’t true at all because in our hearts we never really grow up. We only learn how to act in public.

When did you last give your inner wild child free reign to play?

Life is playfulnessNo doubt about it, life can feel awfully serious at times. And even when we consciously endeavor to give ourselves permission to lighten up, it can take a fair amount of coaxing to relax down into the playful, spontaneous, childlike space that was once so natural. But here’s why play is so important to developing lasting happiness.

Playfulness can add genuine joy to your life, relieve stress, accelerate learning and creativity, keep you feeling young and energetic, enhance relationships and connect you to the world around you.

We never really grow up. We only learn how to act in public. Click To Tweet

If that’s not enough, play also …

Relieves Stress

The play is not only fun it can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Improves Cognitive Function

Playing games such as chess, or completing puzzles challenge the brain can help improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.

Stimulates Creativity

Young children often learn best when they are playing and that principle also applies to adults. You’ll find it easier and faster to learn a new skill when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and problem solve.

Brings Joy and Vitality to Relationships

Playfulness is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. Through regular play, we learn to trust one another and feel safe. Trust enables us to work together, open ourselves to intimacy, and try new things. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends.

Helps Develop and Improve Social Skills

Children learn about verbal communication, body language, boundaries, cooperation, and teamwork through play. As adults, we continue to refine these skills through play and playful communication. For example, if an emotionally insecure individual participates in playful activities with a secure partner, it can help replace negative beliefs and behaviors with positive assumptions and actions.

If you find yourself reluctant to explore your playful side, it’s possible that you’re self-conscious and concerned about how you’ll look and sound to others when you attempt to let go of long buried inhibitions. This is perfectly normal and you can overcome resistance by gradually easing into a ritual of regular, quality playtime.A Sense of playfulness

For an instant boost of playfulness treat yourself to a visit to the nearest amusement park and you’ll undergo almost immediate age regression as you are propelled, feelings and all, back into childhood.

Make a date with yourself just once each week. Clear your schedule for an hour, an afternoon or evening … whatever it takes to start. Then turn off your phone, TV, computer, and other devices. Give yourself permission to do whatever you want for the time you’ve allotted. Be spontaneous, set aside your inhibitions and try something fun, something you haven’t done since you were a kid, perhaps. And enjoy the change of pace.

Instead of looking at play as taking time away from your precious task list, consider it an important investment in your well-being. The more you play, joke, and laugh the easier it becomes and the more it helps you to build confidence, inner peace, and lasting happiness.

What’s Your Story? Do you make time to play? What types of activities bring out your sense of adventure and joy?

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.


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  1. Marquita!
    What a fun thing to read as my Seester and I come off of 16 days of playing in Wales! Being silly together, making friends along the way…we’ve felt the stress of daily life drift off both our shoulders.
    You are spot on about needing to make play a requirement.
    Many years ago, a coworker said that he read that children (his daughter was 3 or 4) laugh X times more than adults. He made it a mission to make sure all of us were getting our daily quota of laughing in.
    Isn’t that a marvelous approach to people?
    Rose Mary Griffith recently posted…One Day in the Brecon Beacons Is Just a TeaserMy Profile

    • Oh, I love your coworker’s idea Rosemary, and couldn’t agree more! We haven’t known each other long, and only virtually so far, but I imagine you and your wonderful family make time for play in your lives. 🙂 Welcome back from your trip and thanks for stopping by!

  2. Rachel Lavern

    Oh how I loved reading your post Marquita! Playing/having fun is one of my core values 🙂

    While I have been playful all of my life, I run into many people who do not know how to play. I usually touch on this in most coaching groups and I am always blown away by the numbers of adults asking me HOW to play. I often have those people make a list with the headings: How do I play, How do I want to play and What really makes me laugh? Then I ask them to make a collage of a handful of photos that remind them of times when they them and then schedule in a 15-minute block over the next few days where they just play–enjoying any activity they like. Or I may have them make a music playlist and choose at least one song tyhat lifts them up, is feisty or one they just love to dance to. Then they are to schedule in a time over the next few days to get moving and have their very own dance off and not worry about what they look or sound like. Or, if dancing isn’t their thing get out and go for a walk in nature, and breathe in the beautiful air.

    Ideas are endless, aren’t they?
    Rachel Lavern recently posted…Calendaring : Clustering and Clumping TimeMy Profile

    • Great to see you Lavern! You are so right when you say that some people don’t know how to play, or even where to begin. We get so serious as we become adults it almost feels unnatural to just let go and have fun. I really like the exercises you’ve shared and I have no doubt this makes a real impact on your clients. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. 🙂

  3. Atish Ranjan

    Hello Marquita,

    Thanks for writing such nice post. I don’t play a lot of games, but when I get a chance I do play a lot at once. When I was a kid, used to play cricket which is still one of my most favorite games. Now as the time passed by, I play cricket game on my computer or smartphone. lolz. But, yes, the enjoyment of playing games is still the same.

    Playing games certainly relieves stress from our life and rejuvenate us. I am happy that you wrote it.
    Atish Ranjan recently posted…10 Apps Like Spotify You Should Give a ShotMy Profile

  4. Joyce Hansen

    I remember one year attending a Christmas party for a professional organization that I belonged to. It was the typical party with the exchange of gifts. However, one member had wrapped gifts for each one of us. As it turned out it was a child’s toy. As she watched us unwrap and could see our confusion, she told us that she wanted us to bring back our sense of play. How important it was to play in the world, and that this was her gift to us and we were not to give it away to a child. Within six months she would pass away from cancer.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…Business Success Clue – NappingMy Profile

    • I had to read your story a couple of times Joyce, that is so amazing! There’s another story I saw online the other day (although I have a feeling this one may not be true) about a husband and wife and just as he decided to give their marriage another try she died. According to the story, she’d been diagnosed with incurable cancer and never told him. As I said, I’m a little skeptical of that one, but the point is we just never know how long we have and what a precious gift your co-worker gave to you all to remind you to enjoy your lives! Thank you so much for sharing your story. 🙂

  5. Kimba

    One of my favorite quotes is “dance as if no one is watching.” I feel that’s how children play. I don’t do nearly enough dancing as if no one is watching – thx for the reminder chica.
    Kimba recently posted…Always Take the CannoliMy Profile

    • I love that quote as well Kimba and have walzed around the living room with my dog more than a few times. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation.

  6. Teresa Salhi

    My husband and I have been having this discussion – about planning more play. Ha. He is a more serious type but he can get into some silliness pretty easy when prompted. He is also more spontaneous which really means he is not the best at planning ahead. I, on the other hand, crave laughter and fun moments and although I want to be spontaneous more, I am usually a planner for the out of house type of fun. Well, we have not been planning or spontaneous enough when it comes to fun and has been getting us ..yes, out of balance. I saw you mentioned on another post about not always being a fan of that term and I agree too. I also see you mentioned you live in Maui. Really? Ah girl, so nice. Where I was going with my comment is to say that a year ago we were in Maui and went ziplining in Haku and of course many other things. We had so much fun with lotsa belly laughs!! Sure we have laughed since then but likely not as much. I am ready for that kind of fun again and I am learning that we do have to plan the out of house giggles or they are a bit on the down side.
    Teresa Salhi recently posted…Past RelationshipMy Profile

    • I’m glad to hear that you and your husband discuss things like what makes you happy, how refreshing! I also hear you about the experience you had on Maui (which sounds like a blast by the way!), sometimes it takes a change of scenery to help us loosen up, so you might think about that when talking about your plans. You don’t have to travel a long way, sometimes just a change of scenery in our own community will do the trick. Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation Teresa. 🙂

  7. Suzie Cheel

    I love this Marty and funny I have been drawing my play card and know that the more I allow my inner child to come out and guide me life becomes more full of joy and easier. Nor to mention more abundant xx
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…True Freedom Is In The JourneyMy Profile

  8. Sue Kearney

    Nice, Marquita! Esp this: being embarrassed by enthusiasm as we get older. Have you seen the derivation of “enthusiasm”? Check it: “divinely inspired, possessed by a god.”

    May we all easily kick that embarrassment to the curb.

    Sue Kearney recently posted…Website pages — how many and which ones?My Profile

    • I like your definition of enthusiasm much better than those found in online dictionaries … and I quote, “intense and eager enjoyment.” And I couldn’t agree more with your comment about kicking embarrassment to the curb! Thanks for stopping by Sue. 🙂

  9. This is such an interesting topic for me, Marquita. If you remember, I wrote a piece about taking fun more seriously, and in the research stage of it, I discovered that as long as something is enjoyable to you, that is part of your unique “funprint”. Fun and play can be different of course. Playing with my daughter’s dog and two cats is always so entertaining to me and they have me laughing just watching their behaviour. I love swings and roller coaster, (although I haven’t been on one in awhile), I think because both of them remind me of what it might feel like to fly! The air in my chart, I guess 🙂 I am more of a cerebral person and love your suggestion of planning “play” into our lives. If I look at how I was as a child, I am not sure I ever really “played”, as I was more interesting in learning new things, which is still my idea of fun even today. Now that summer is coming, I am making a concentrated effort to be out in the world more and I’m staying open to finding new things to play at and people to play with. Thanks for the wonderful post, as always.
    Beverley Golden recently posted…A Story is a Living BeingMy Profile

    • Excellent point Beverley, it is true that what fun looks like can vary for each of us, just like our respective definitions of happiness. In fact, there’s also a connection even with work, because there is a huge difference between working at a job to live, and doing work that you love. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing, always value your thoughtful insights! 🙂

  10. Millen

    Love the topic, Marquita! As always, you’ve chosen something that is much needed in this moment 🙂 I see myself as too serious considering that I am very aware that life is a game. My hubby, on the other hand, is all about play and fun. I think that was one of the main reasons I fell for him 🙂 He is a constant reminder of the most important experiences in life – Fun, Joy and Love. 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration!
    Millen recently posted…How I’ve Turned My Life Around and YOU CAN TOO!My Profile

    • Thanks for your kind words, and especially for taking the time to let me know you found value in the post, Millen. Like happiness, I think there’s a lot to be said for taking the time to define what “play” looks like for each of us. The amusement park example I used will work for many people, but I prefer avoiding crowds so for me taking a hike in nature achieves the same result. Whatever it is that is fun for us, we have to be okay with that and not compare ourselves to others. Thanks again for sharing. 🙂

  11. Reba Linker

    This is such a timely post for me, Marquita. Thank you. I couldn;t agree with you more, and, for the first time, I’m going to schedule in time to play! xo, Reba
    Reba Linker recently posted…Stepping UpMy Profile

  12. Rosary says:

    I like to think that I’m a kid at heart, actually some people still mistake me as a kid because of my baby face. But I see your point that as adults with busy working life and all it can be so easy to forget that playfulness we used to experience as kids. I definitely agree that we should take time to ‘play’ just as we take time to exercise or see our friends. It’s all about balance I guess and making time instead of finding time.

    • Well said Rosary. I must confess I normally avoid using the term “life balance” because I don’t believe there actually is such a thing, but you are right about this being one element of that. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. William Rusho

    We are bombarded to be adults, and to act that way that once in a while we need to have some fun like a child. My release is going to medieval, and county fairs. It is a time that lets me look at the world again in amazement as a child would.

    • While it’s been many years, I have had the pleasure of attending medieval fairs before we moved to Maui so I can easily see why you enjoy them. There is so much color and fun and definitely a sense of fantasy. Thanks for stopping by William. 🙂

  14. Dave

    I think this post explains perfectly one of the main reasons why Disney World is such an important part of my life 🙂 It throws a net of “safety” around you, encouraging that young child to spring forth inside what can be sometimes construed as a boring and much too serious adult world 🙂

    I also remember a team-building event that we engaged in as an office a year or two back. We all participated in a zipline adventure. You become so accustomed to communicating with colleagues in a purely professional environment that the interactions become almost stale and rigid, stifling creativity and progress.

    When you are given the opportunity to escape that rut, cut loose, and reveal a bit of your unique personality, you not only become more effective working with each other, but you also learn more about each other in the process.

    Sometimes I become so laser-focused on a goal or objective that I admittedly forget the value of simply “playing” – doing something for the pure enjoyment of it. Thanks for the reminder, Marty! Looks like a return trip to the happiest place on Earth is in order real soon 🙂
    Dave recently posted…Musical AccordMy Profile

    • When I added the part about amusement parks I was thinking about you because I know you enjoy Disneyworld. 🙂 The group outings is one of the few things I miss about working at a traditional job. I recall one Christmas a bunch of us were singing Christmas carols in the hotel lobby where we worked and just as we finished the tram for the Sugarcane train pulled up in front of the hotel. We quickly decided to jump on board and make the round trip, but when we got to the station, one thing led to another and then we were on the train singing our little hearts out chugging through Lahaina! Two hours later someone said, “Uh, you think they’re missing us yet?” There were 15 of us and most were managers sorely in need of that playtime, and thank goodness the general manager had a good sense of humor and was able to laugh off our little adventure! The zipline sounds wonderful, I’d love to do that sometime!

  15. Donna Janke

    I’ve been thinking about the importance of play recently as well, especially as it relates to creativity. A program at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma which has master glass blowers developing pieces from children’s designs reminded me that art is the result of both technique and play. I wrote a short post about it –
    Donna Janke recently posted…Rhododendrons at Mendocino Coast Botanical GardensMy Profile

  16. Ken Dowell

    While it may not be on the highest order of cognitive functionality, I never stop playing as long as my dog is around. Give me a stick, a ball, a frisbee and we’ve got a game to play and I’ve got a playmate who never gets tired of it.
    Ken Dowell recently posted…Why Are We Flying at Mid-20th Century Speeds?My Profile

  17. Sabrina Quairoli

    Great post, Marquita. I decided recently that one day over the weekend I vowed to have some playtime and disconnect from all electronics. I started it a few weeks ago and am feeling much better. My husband and I take a walk first thing in the morning. We do some chores and home projects that we like to do together, we make a delicious lunch together and then go out. Thank you for the reminder.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Asian Beef Kebabs and Grilled RomaineMy Profile

    • Sounds like a wonderful ritual you and your husband have created Sabrina! I must admit I’m rarely inclined to take a whole day off, but at least once or twice a week I take a morning or afternoon off to have coffee or lunch with friends, see a matinee or just spend a couple of hours at the beach. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Marquita — I’ve always allowed “play time” for myself. Lots of theater, ballet, symphony. These activities feed my soul. I also play a lot of bridge which, like chess, has been shown to enhance cognition as you grow older. I do wish that children today were allowed more unscheduled playfulness. Everything is scheduled for them, even play time. When I was young, my friends would show up unannounced at my door, “Hey, Jeannette, wanna come out and play?” Then we used our imaginations to create playful activities. That spontaneity has been squeezed out of the busy schedules of kids and I think that’s a big loss.

    • Good for you Jeannette, and apparently researchers agree with you because I’ve recently read several articles about how children today are allowed much less free play time than ever before. Sad really. Thanks for stopping by.

  19. lenie

    I am so fortunate that I have grandchildren and they make the best playmates. I’ve been pushed on a swing by them, I’ve shared tea parties with them and picked wild strawberries with my 4 year old granddaughter just to name a few of the activities we’ve shared. So I totally agree that we need to play – there is nothing wrong with ‘not acting your age’.
    lenie recently posted…Compost Tea – Perfect for Suburban GardensMy Profile

    • Couldn’t agree more with you Lenie! I think it’s just as wonderful for your grandchildren to have you because my grandparents very different. My grandmother on my mother’s side did whatever she could to avoid having us around, and my grandparents on my father’s side thought play amounted to shoving $5 in our little hands whenever we visited. Thanks for sharing, and keep doing what you’re doing!

  20. Jeri

    Play most certainly makes the brain happy. I hiked to Stack Rock in Boise last weekend. Scrambling around on precarious rocks always counts as play. Being in nature tends to bring so many smiles. I also view gardening and digging in the dirt as play also. Though it’s been years since I just played in the mud for the heck of it 😉
    Jeri recently posted…#Marketing: Newsletter Basics for AuthorsMy Profile

    • No question Jeri. I’ve personally never been into digging in the mud, or gardening for that matter, but I do love hiking and feel very fortunate that so much of Maui is available for then whenever we get the chance. Thanks for stopping by!

  21. Dana

    Hey Marquita,

    I’ve come to the realization that we all have that inner child within us. I think this is a part of ourselves that sticks with us throughout our lives.

    We can either let it out to play deliberately and creatively – or they can become the repressed angry brat that comes out when we aren’t looking and wreaks havoc out of frustration.

    I’ve experienced both.

    I have found such joy either in the kitchen or being creative in other ways. It’s so therapeutic.

    Years ago I was an HGTV addict. I’d get inspired and go to the craft store and paint everything in the house. Loved it.
    Dana recently posted…“I’m Stuck In A Rut – Now What?”My Profile

    • You are so right Dana, in fact, there is a wealth of research on this very topic. One of my favorite ‘experts’is Leo Buscaglia and his books were recommended to me many years ago when I was working through some residual anger issues from childhood. There are so many ways we can express our creativity and joy, it really is up to us to make the time to enjoy these things. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing! 🙂

  22. Phoenicia

    I am serious when it comes to my profession and getting jobs done in the home. I have a plan and want to ensure it is carried out. Sometimes I can be too task focused (so my husband says) which I am working on.

    Short breaks and holidays are where I truly switch off. I let go and enjoy the culture, the ambience, the food.

    Also having small children gives me the perfect excuse to watch cartoons, children’s films at the cinema and enjoy the rides at theme parks.
    Phoenicia recently posted…What lessons have you learnt from your “failures?”My Profile

  23. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    OK this is embarrassing, but here goes: Yes, I do play a lot. I was at a store buying beach stuff for the grandkids that are coming next month. I did purchase an extra bubble kit for myself. Maybe I’m the crazy lady in the neighborhood, but I do go out and make big bubbles. Just because I like to.

    I also have a 1955 BelAir model car that my ex husband made. When he passed a few months ago, my daughter and I were going through his stuff. It touched my heart that he remembered this was my favorite car so I took it home and put it on my desk. Sometimes, in the middle of looking at my computer screen, I roll the car, going into my imagination that I am taking a trip.

    I have to say I do play and it feels wonderful. It is getting in touch with my imagination and brings me back to the free thinking world of a child. Well that child within has to come out!

    Donna Merrill recently posted…Run Your Blog Like You Would Run A StoreMy Profile

  24. Mark

    Boy M, you’ve shared so many excellent points!

    And while we’re having fun, we actually tend to forget and or totally take for granted, all of the additional benefits you’ve outlined!

    And I also love the unintended social benefits you outlined. All and all, you have definitely made it clear, periodically making a conscious decision to have more fun, is definitely a good thing!Thanks!
    Mark recently posted…So How Do These Ultimate Insider Type Entrepreneurs Get Free Advertising Over And Over Again?My Profile

    • Glad you enjoyed the article Mark, but why is it that I think you’re probably someone who typically does not include much playtime in his life? Seriously, always appreciate your thoughtful insights my friend. 🙂

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