The opposite of play is depression, says the founder of the National Institute of Play, Stuart Brown, MD. I read Brown’s book Play, How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul when it came out in 2009.
It changed my life when I brought the topic of play to my ManKind Project I-Group. As a result of the commitment, I made that night my family and I play board and card games at breakfast.
Yes, playing games at breakfast may be a little strange, but it’s the one meal we can count on having as a family. Win or lose; I love playing games, especially ones that involve risks and rewards. They create twists, turns and surprising outcomes that make me laugh.
How do you play? Hit reply and let me know.
The topic of play came back to me this week when I listened to a TED Radio Hour episode called Press Play.
Does something serious happen when we play? In this episode, TED speakers describe how all forms of amusement — tossing a ball to video games — can make us smarter, saner and more collaborative. Guests include psychologist Jeffrey Mogil, comedian Charlie Todd, psychiatrist Stuart Brown, primatologist Isabel Behncke Izquierdo and game designer Jane McGonigal.
Three Things I Learned From Press Play
Reduce Stress and Build Empathy
It seems we are hardwired to be stressed in the presence of strangers. Evolutionarily it kept us safe at a time when strangers were rare. Researchers have discovered that we feel the pain of those we are connected to, but not people we don’t know.
However, just 15 minutes of play with a stranger is powerful enough to create connection and build empathy.
Wisdom From Hospice
A study of hospice workers surveyed on the regrets of the dying uncovered three wishes that often go unfulfilled.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish I’d let myself be happier.
Playing is the antidote to these regrets. In addition to the obvious ways that playing is fun and connects friends and family, a study from East Carolina University showed that 30 minutes of casual, online game playing each day was as effective in treating anxiety and depression as pharmaceuticals.
Want Resilience – Get SuperBetter
Faced with a life-threatening brain injury, Jane McGonigal turned life into a game. As others heard about her surprising results, they wanted more. McGonigal created SuperBetter; an online game that helps you tackle the most difficult challenges by increasing your stamina, willpower, and focus.
The website reports people around the world are using SuperBetter:
- To adopt a new habit, develop a talent, learn or improve a skill, strengthen a relationship, make a physical or athletic breakthrough, complete a meaningful project, or pursue a lifelong dream.
- To beat depression, overcome anxiety, cope with chronic illness or chronic pain, heal from physical injury, or recover from post-traumatic stress.
- To overcome a life challenge like finding a new job, surviving divorce, dealing with a career or school setback, or grieving the loss of a loved one.
Go out and play! So that you can live a Bold and Authentic Life.