The Ponder Effect | How can you recover your sense of play?
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How can you recover
your sense of play?

…And why might you want to?

We put so much pressure on ourselves all the time. There is what we do—and don’t—accomplish. There is how we think about ourselves and how we try and present ourselves. There are dreams to pursue and expectations to meet and finances to manage. It is a lot.

I watch my kids. They play. They spray each other with the hose and swing in the tree and pretend to be dinosaurs, all in the span of an hour. Their play is startling in its unselfconsciousness. It allows them to be fully present—that thing we adults so desperately desire but often find elusive.

When my kids ask me to play with them, I should drop what I’m doing and say yes. Their way of engaging with the world fuels curiosity and brings joy. Why wouldn’t I want to share in that? And yet, that particular request makes me tired. I don’t want to play. I want to sit down with a magazine and a glass of wine.

The thing is, I don’t want to be too tired—or too busy or too stressed—to play. I recognize and emphasize the irony that play itself would be an antidote to those very conditions. Play would give me some much-needed down time, would give me more energy, would relieve my anxiety. Doing something purely for the fun of it would help me put down all that pressure I tend to pile on myself.

It’s summer: the perfect time to prioritize play, to reclaim the joy of doing something for no other reason than because it’s enjoyable. What are you going to do just for the fun of it? How can you recover your sense of play?

Share your thoughts [All posts are 100% anonymous]

4 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    June 10, 2018 at 5:58 pm

    Travel brings out a sense of play for me that I otherwise find difficult to access. Something about the open road, or a brand new place to explore, frees up my spirit. I think there’s something to having less STUFF that allows me to say yes to play, too … and of course when you’re traveling there’s just less stuff to remember and keep track of. I’ve been trying to purge my home recently, and instead of seeing it as a punishment for being such a high consumer, I’m trying to reframe it as a way to gain some freedom and, as a result, a sense of play even within my own home. That doesn’t really answer this question, though, does it?

    The other day, I was playing with my six year old and I allowed myself to be completely RIDICULOUS. So ridiculous that I was glad that my husband wasn’t even there to see me; so ridiculous that when my little guy asked to play the same game the next day and a repairman was at our house, I demurred. But in that moment of complete playful inhibition, we had so much fun, and we laughed so hard, and I’ll remember that playtime forever, I think. It was so delightful to hear my son laugh so hilariously, and it brought me so much joy not only because I was having a good time with him, but also because I made the conscious decision to engage with him. Which leads me to say … I think if we allow ourselves to play once in a while, and if the play then results in a shared experience of laughter and delight, it’s easier to let go again, another day, and another and another.

  • Anonymous

    June 10, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Surround yourself playful people of all ages. Say yes. Laugh with your belly. See everything for the first time. Remember that no one is really watching you. Get plenty of sleep. Exercize. Make time for it. Tell a friend

  • Anonymous

    June 11, 2018 at 9:16 am

    One thing my husband and I have been challenging ourselves to have more engaging entertainment then passive entertainment. We think of passive entertainment as watching TV, scrolling through media on our phones, and sometimes even reading. In our society, entertainment is so accessible it can easily become an addiction. Entertainment isn’t a bad thing. It can be restorative and thought-provoking. But passively consuming it can leave us empty. I never thought about the word Play as describing engaging entertainment but I think that is what we have been discussing. It’s being an active participant, taking time, action and thought to entertain with no real purpose to achieve but instead a reminder that there is much more to this life than the next deadline or client meeting or load of laundry.

  • Anonymous

    October 1, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    As a person who has spent my life dealing with chronic depression. I recently read a study about the importance of play in managing symptoms. A favorite so far has been finger painting (yes, I’ve been doing this. And I love it) there is something so satisfying in spreading and mixing colors with your fingers. No rules. That is the important part of the study. Giving yourself moments of no rules of full submission to that messy moment.