Do You Give Yourself Permission to Play?


Play is usually discussed as though it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. It’s a way to cope with life and to prepare for adulthood. Playing is a way to solve problems and to express feelings. In fact, play is not only the real work of childhood; it should also be considered seriously as the real work of every organization. This is important to consider amidst the hustle and bustle of our busy  lives. I bet that if I asked you to close your eyes and think of the happiest moments in your life, chances are good that it involved some sort of play.

Play is the most natural thing that children do and yet somewhere along the way, we lose this inclination to play. We get serious. We’ve got more important things to do.  We’ve got to be productive.  We’re supposed to be successful. Meanwhile, we become stressed, anxious, depressed, worried, and exhausted.

Play isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity.

Why? My guess is we are a little or a lot  ”play-deprived.” We have not given ourselves permission to play enough.  I know that “playing” seems childish, unprofessional, wasteful of our time and energies. But let me encourage you to seriously rethink that and do what Mr. Rogers prescribed: treat play with the seriousness it deserves.

Play isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity. Dr. Stuart Brown brilliantly demonstrates this in his TED talk, making the scientific case that play is anything but frivolous, and not just for kids.

My favorite line: “The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.” Charles Schaefer, founder of the Association for Play Therapy says the following about play:

“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing. Through play our whole being is engaged—our bodies, minds, and souls.  Play allows us to express ourselves and connect most deeply with the best in others, thereby improving relationships.”

“The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.”

Who doesn’t deserve to feel more alive, to laugh, to reconnect and deepen our engagement with the world?  And if you are not going to give yourself permission to play more this week, I will. Consider this your official permission slip to explore, experiment, wander, wonder, tinker, get silly, discover, fiddle and in the process have extraordinary amounts of fun!! What are you waiting for???


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Image credit: akinshin / 123RF Stock Photo

My life path has always been about teaching and communication. My twenty years as an educator and my passionate pursuit of literacy and learning, gave me the healthy dose of courage and skills that have led me through a wonderful variety of experiences, including classroom and University teaching, instructional coaching, research, writing, publishing, corporate training, and starting my own business.

  • John Bennett

    Thanks for bringing Dr. Brown’s video to my attention. I have always suggested students “play with ____” when working to learn the material and use it to address situations. The thinking was “don’t get stressed out, frustrated, …” in these efforts. Dr. Brown, I think, suggests this is not play since it has another purpose: effective learning. BUT, then there’s the line: “The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.” So, maybe in some way at least, work can be play??? Of course, there’s the other line: “All work and no play makes John a dull boy.” Make no mistake about my thoughts. My use of play with regard to the approach to work must NOT be the only play in one’s life!!! Great post, Angela.

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