Fun, laughter and play are very important parts of the human experience. Experiencing these things with someone else increases connection. Children engage with fun and play very easily; as we age, we often stop prioritizing fun and play.
Of course, when someone is deep in suffering and despair it is hard to have fun or access a sense of playfulness.
We don’t always realize the importance of fun. We can feel like it’s frivolous to be laughing and having fun when people are suffering so much. We can slip into a state of seriousness and feel the pressure to only work and focus on “important” things.
But the science says otherwise. We know that laughter and fun supports us in building connections. Play supports creativity, and creativity is so much more than just making art. Play helps us to relieve stress and improve brain function. Play improves energy.
Most of us desire a life with more ease, fun, and adventure. Having a sense of purpose is fun and motivating. Therefore, building fun into our work is so essential.
In the video Play Is the Engine of Change. How Do We Harness It?, neuroscientist Beau Lotto says, “the most adaptable systems in nature are the ones that play into adulthood.”
In the video, Dr. Lotto says that play:
- Celebrates uncertainty
- Encourages diversity
- Is open to possibility
- Is cooperative
- Is intrinsically motivated (think back to self-determination theory)
Psychiatrist Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute for Play. Brown found that “lack of play just as important as other factors in predicting criminal behavior among murderers in Texas prisons.” Play is purposeless and about pleasure – it is not about completing a goal.
In the PsychCentral article The Importance of Play for Adults, author Margarita Tartakovsky writes,
But play is just as pivotal for adults as it is for kids.“We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up,” according to Scott G. Eberle, Ph.D, vice president for play studies at The Strong and editor of the American Journal of Play.
Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships.
In his book Play, author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD, compares play to oxygen. He writes, “…it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.” This might seem surprising until you consider everything that constitutes play. Play is art, books, movies, music, comedy, flirting and daydreaming, writes Dr. Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play. (2012)
What fun things did you do as a kid?
What can you do to add more fun play into your life?
What kinds of fun things can you add into your peer support work?