The Power of Play

Play is healthy and healing. We know that intuitively because we feel it. If it doesn’t feel good, it’s not play.

Unfortunately, as we grow up and get serious about our education, our livelihood, our relationships, we get disconnected from play. We tend shift into a mindset that play is the domain of children or pets, and a luxury we can’t pursue in our serious efforts at adulting.

It’s time reclaim the joy and pleasure of play, recognizing that it’s actually essential for our well-being. That’s right, playing is self-care! I like the sound of that, don’t you?

What Is Play, Anyway?

Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, studies the subject extensively and wrote a 2009 book titled Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul. (He came to the topic from a surprising angle: He was studying the lives of mass murderers and concluded that they share a common lack of childhood play.)

Here’s how he defines play:

An absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self consciousness and sense of time. It is self motivating and makes you want to do it again.


Let’s break this definition down a bit…

  • Apparently purposeless: done for its own sake. Activities don’t seem to have value.
  • Voluntary: not required or obligatory.
  • Inherent attraction: it is fun, it feels good.
  • Freedom from time: you lose sense of time when you are engaged in play.
  • Diminished sense of self: you stop thinking, you’re fully in the moment.
  • Improvisational: There isn’t one rigid way of doing things. You never know what is going to happen.
  • Continuation desire: We want to keep doing it because it is pleasurable and rewarding.
  • There is no way to understand play without remembering the feeling of play: It’s a state of being.

And of course, it’s different for everyone. The woman who loses herself for hours fly fishing on a Wyoming river might pull out her hair if she were engaging in online gaming all afternoon.

What Does Play Mean to You?

If you are curious about infusing your life with a little bit of purposeless, enjoyable delight, stop and think:

What you did as a child that got you really excited? What gave you joy? What did you love to do, that you’d do for hours?

Linger in the memory—connect with that state of being! Guess what, you have just added a little play to your day.

Are You Ready to Play?

Play is vitally important. It keeps your brain healthy, flexible and growing. It makes you a better problem solver. It energizes and enlivens you. It renews your natural sense of optimism.

How will you infuse your day with play? You will enjoy it—I pinky, pinky promise! 😉


Planting the Seeds of Spring

flower seedling in a pot ready for planting

Isn’t it great to have so much more daylight this time of year? Excitement is in the air and signs of spring are beginning to sprout.

I am planting lots of seeds this month.

1.  I am thrilled to be sharing my Inner Champion audio learning program with the world! Now that the audios and journals are finished, I am dreaming up all kinds of ways for people to use it. Look for more details from me this spring.

2.  I am hatching plans to refresh and reinvigorate my website — new content, new photos, and a new look that works on any digital device. I even have videos I want to share!

3.  My free monthly tele class is on March 12th and it plants the seeds for the Power of Play in our livesJoin me!

4.  And I am looking forward to designing and creating beautiful, relaxing space inside and outside our house!

Feels like spring fever is setting in and I am eager to see how the seeds I am planting now, flourish and grow in the upcoming months.

Here’s to spring,

Devoted to Fun!

Mary WaterskiingIt is so much easier to be spontaneous in the summer. Probably because we don’t have the same intensely rigid daily schedule that comes with the school year. More flexibility in our schedule means more opportunities for playtime! Last night I joined a spur-of-the-moment football-throwing contest. Two weeks ago I tried water skiing (successfully! that’s me in the picture) for the first time in 30 years. Tonight, it looks like we might ride bikes to our favorite local pizza joint.

These spontaneous good times really lift my spirit and dramatically lower my stress levels. (Not to mention, the physical exercise is good for my entire family!) And the last 3 weeks have been challenging. One of my fit, healthy brothers had a heart attack last month. My Mother-in-law was hospitalized twice for pneumonia and is bouncing back very slowly. My husband was out of town (enjoying his long planned bike trip and I was shepherding and schlepping the teenagers to their summertime commitments. Oh yeah – and running my business too.

Each moment of impromptu, purposeless play really cuts through the stress and strain of life. Play injects my heart with a shot of joy that sustains me. That burst of delight reminds me that even in the midst of hardship, life is good.

Incorporating play into your daily routine is beneficial to you, too. Would you like to make play a habit in your own life? For the rest of August, follow my Facebook page for daily ideas on how to PLAY. Very few of them will require special equipment or physical finesse. These play prompts will create a smile and melt the stress away in the middle of the day.  Join in the fun and post your experiences and your own PLAY ideas on my Facebook page, using the hashtag #PowerOfPlay. Let’s start a PLAYvolution!!

Mary Mustache Your serious DEVOTEE to PLAY,