Why We All Need to Play

Lucien Silly

By Curtis Jolley
Public Relations Coordinator

Irish playwright and political activist, George Bernard Shaw, once said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; We grow old because we stop playing.” 

For many adults, the concept of “play” is reserved only for children. As we age and progress through life, we fall into the unfortunate trap of thinking that enjoying games, toys, and playing pretend are no longer acceptable forms of behavior.

Think about the mind of a child: it’s wide open and imaginative – it knows few limits. After childhood, though, we start to zip up our brains, rely on assumptions, and consequently, diminish our ability to “think outside the box.”

While adults may have much more knowledge, we’ve lost much of the creativity, imagination, and wonder we once had as kids. Fortunately, though, the power of play allows us to build a bridge in our brains to access and regain this vital ability.

“What you begin to see when there’s major play deprivation in an otherwise competent adult, is that they’re not much fun to be around. You begin to see that the perseverance and joy in work is lessened and that life is much more laborious.” – Dr. Stuart Brown

Adult at Dance Party

Dance parties are a great way to play!

Play allows us to expand our knowledge, make connections, and better understand the world around us. Being playful means having the curiosity to ask questions and seek the answers without fear of being “right” or “wrong” – something that hinders many people today. When we play, we discover opportunities.

Research has shown that play leads to sharpening and maintaining memory and critical thinking skills as we age. Our brains need playtime to decompress and re-focus in today’s hectic and over-stimulating world. Play also builds a better sense of community and improves self-esteem.

With so many distractions and things vying for our attention, we have to be proactive about playtime as adults. It can come in several different forms whether it’s coloring, playing a board game, having a dance party, or learning a new hobby. Sports and exercise are also great ways to build some playtime into your day. Yes, even video games are a perfectly acceptable form of play as adults. There’s no wrong way to play. It’s just wrong not to play.

In other words, GO PLAY!

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