What is Play, and how do you learn it?

Postby tashlentine » Wed Jun 07, 2017 1:29 pm

I've been reading more and more about the importance of play in people's adult lives - how it helps you handle difficult situations, move past barriers, brings a sense of fun into your life and acts as a vehicle to get creativity moving.

So I was reading this stuff and thought great! This sounds good - lets organise some playtime and make a serious attempt at having fun. But then I realised I didn't know what to do with playtime, even if I made time for it. Which is an odd statement, particularly from a professional creative - you'd think that essentially I get paid to play.

I'm an only child. I was always surrounded by adults rather than children, spoken to as though I was a short adult and encouraged to be quiet and serious and academic. My toys were mainly educational - 'playtime' with my parents involved things like learning the countries on a map, or memorising human anatomy. I was a bit of a loner in school - I was bullied for being a nerd so kept to myself and hid behind books. As a professional creative I make stuff to please a client and pay my bills. Hobbies like yoga, cooking and running are to improve my health and watching shows on Netflix is a way of switching my brain off.

I remember watching an interview with Marie Forleo where she talks about jumping around making silly noises to relieve stress and I can't imagine myself even thinking about doing that - like, it would never have even crossed my mind that that's a thing humans do.

So 'play' is quite a foreign concept to me. Doing something just for fun without a purpose. I'm struggling to think of what 'play' is, in terms of being separate from learning because to me the two things seem totally entertwined. Also most suggestions for 'play' seem to be bent towards creativity and I don't really see that as a fun thing in my life because it's a job and a responsibility.

So I thought I'd ask you!
What do you guys do for play? Do you still do anything you did as a kid? Or have you developed new things? What's your favourite thing to do for play (keep it clean!)? and do you see it as really being beneficial to your wellbeing? or just a form of slacking off and wasting time in a way that's more enjoyable than adulting being being responsible?
Junior Member
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon May 08, 2017 12:37 pm
Likes Received: 4


Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:39 pm

Play serves multiple purposes. It teaches children basic social skills, it lets them explore and learn safely, it provides parents a respite. Adults hopefully don't require basic social skills or have parents in need of a rest. This leaves exploring/learning in safety.

During play wonderful things can happen, because children have not yet learned that the moon isn't made of cheese and that bean stalks can't grow as tall as the clouds. They don't understand physics, economics, biology, etc.

As we go from child to teen and learn what makes a plane stay in the air or where babies really come from, it makes play as a child more difficult. A key eliminate of child's play is being able to believe the moon is made of cheese and respond accordingly. For adults this requires "suspension of disbelief" meaning being able to suspend your disbelief in dragons or talking lollipops.

It can be hard for adults to play, because it is hard for many adults to unlearn or suspend what they believe. Those that can suspend disbelief can create more readily than those that struggle. It is easier to watch a movie about the universe as a matrix than create said universe.


If you want to learn to play, it is mainly about suspension of disbelief. Any nerd group has that capacity. Fantasy or role playing games have forums you can join. Go to any comic book store and you will find adults that love to play.

The way I play is engaging in hypotheticals. I participate in a forum where people ask hypotheticals, some based in reality and others fantasy. What if dragons existed? What if the Germans had won WWII? It is play.
Posts: 10896
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:25 am
Likes Received: 1127


Postby edwardmyers » Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:44 am

It can be tough for adults to play, because it's miles hard for lots adults to unlearn or suspend what they accept as true with.
New Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:38 am
Likes Received: 0

Return to Psychology