Monday, February 27, 2006
When was the last time you played?
Marc De Bruin
asks: "When Was the Last Time You Played?
"Firstly, find out where you are hanging on to seriousness. Where is your life governed by doubt, worry, anxiety, fear of the future, etc. Where have you suppressed playfulness in favour of gloom? Be honest with yourself!
"Secondly, define for yourself what 'playing' means to you. I may have a completely different definition of the word than you, and therefore my "playing" will be different to yours! What would you do if you decided to play? Go to a musical, play chasings with your partner, go to a footy game, play hide-and-seek with your kids, buy a super-soaker and squirt cars in the street, etc.?
"Thirdly, find examples in your surroundings of people that "play" the way you would like to. What are they doing? How often do they do that? What sort of people are they? What can you learn from them?
"Lastly, take action!! Find at least two occasions in a week in which you can play out full. Go past your own boundaries, act a little crazy, do things you would never do before, make a fool of yourself, and laugh out loud! If that is too much, do something that is less "out there," but still is a stretch in your model of the world, and then do a little more the next week.
"Seriously...we need more fun and play in our lives. You will not only feel great, you will have an enormous influence on the people around you also. Just try it: walk past somebody and give them an honest smile. You will make their day."
Ad when you are ready for some advanced fun, might I suggest perhaps a Pointless Game
or a round or two of Mondo Croquet
Monday, February 06, 2006
Animal Behavior, Learning, and Playfulness
In her article "Animal Behavior, Learning, and Playfulness
," Myrna Milani, DVM, writes:
"First, I think that all behavioral scientists agree that evolution has primed young animals to learn from play. That tells us that this constitutes the most deeply embedded and thus energy-efficient way to teach animals new things. And because we know that domestication more or less suspends an animal in a physiologically and behaviorally immature state, this link between learning and play most likely lasts throughout a domesticated animal's life."
I know she's writing about animal behavior. She's a DVM, for goodness sake. But, as a deeply domesticated animal myself, I can only concur as well as agree. Though I think the physiologically and behaviorally immature part can be attributed to the play-youth connection (play and you act younger, look younger). As for playfulness being a deeply embedded way for me to learn new things, it is clear that the connections between learning and play in my life have not only continued, but increased in strength, number and kind:
"Second, whatever else play in adult wild animals might denote, in many cases it signals an animal who has established and protected a territory, found food and water, mated , reproduced and raised young with energy to spare. If this weren't the case, the potential for adult play wouldn't exist in the gene pool. That says to me (and I admit that some anti-adult-animal-play scientists don't agree) that a playful adult possesses more confidence and ability to cope with stressful situations than a nonplayful one."
It has in deed been my observation that a playful adult has more confidence and ability to cope with stressful situations. Or, perhaps even more self-evident, the adult (animal or human being) who isn't playful tends to be more easily stressed and often more concerned about his ability to perform. At any rate, all this coincides both fortuitously and non-coincidentally with last Friday's article Playfulness and the Health of the Herd