There is a current trend in American society to always be Busy and Productive. Our leisure time has turned into something that must be parceled out and structured. Ballet lessons, music lessons-everything must have a purpose. In this, I would like for you to look at children in their natural play state.
When a child is told to go outside and play, without toys or other stimulus, they will create an environment rich with imagination. They will find sticks, build forts, play with frogs, dogs, cats, each other. They will play with whatever is available and in doing so, they are literally shaping their world. A shady nook under the tree becomes rebel command. The grass becomes lava. The dog, a vicious pirate looking to steal their gold (ice cream).
As adults, we are deprived of this. We are told, over and over, that we must Act Adult. Be grown up. Don’t be a child. Stop being silly. Be serious. Sit up straight. Don’t be stupid, and you know? It changes who and what we are. We are expected to not do anything that is not productive, or not good at simply for the joy of doing it. That’s ridiculous.
As humans, we are primitive, in many ways. We are still animals, still primates, still mammals and our psychology requires us to play. We learn while we play. We form relationships while we play. We solve problems while we play.
Creative play and unstructured leisure time are not simply for children. It is a positive, joyful experience for adults, too!
Humans are not built to be on a time schedule. That is the social conditioning we have set for ourselves. At work by 8, lunch at 11, home by 7. Then dinner and dishes and bed. Rinse, repeat for the majority of a week and voila, we remove ourselves from our best possible, most positive life experiences.
It is vitally important to allow ourselves play time. Play time can be almost anything. Riding bikes, baking cookies, doing art, gardening, reading a book, even sex. It needs to be unstructured and open to the full experience without the qualifications of any purpose other than “I want to.” Having imaginative play, world building, being silly-these things keep the mind healthy, increase a positive outlook and a much happier life over all.