Cultivating Trust, Hope, and Light-Heartedness With Play


It could be the increased incidence of anxiety and depression in modern society is partly owed to the absence of play in our lives.

It’s difficult to engage in play when we are stressed, sad, lethargic, or fearful, but play - or being playful - is an excellent way to reduce stress, lift our spirits, energize mind and body, and bolster our sense of safety.

“For humans and other animals, play is a universal training course and language of trust. The belief that one is safe with another being or in any situation is formed over time during regular play,” according to The National Institute for Play. The research institute’s founder, Dr. Stuart Brown, points out the qualities of light-heartedness, empathy, optimism, hope for the future, adaptability, and flexibility are engendered and nurtured when people play.

Inspiring Ourselves To Play

Though current research has backed the benefits of play with scientific data, keen minds throughout history have considered play a boon to learning, creativity and well being. So, to inspire ourselves to play more often, here is a smattering of mankind’s wisdom on play:

“Our hearts and imaginations need to dance and play if we are to live awake.” ~ Jaeda DeWalt

“Our play is not something separate from our spirituality; it is itself a sign of the presence of God in the world.” ~ Ken Shigematsu

“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.” ~ Charles E. Schaefer

“It is time for a return to childhood, to simplicity, to running and climbing and laughing in the sunshine, to experiencing happiness instead of being trained for a lifetime of pursuing happiness.” ~ L.R. Knost

“I wondered then why children played so in the river, but adults ceased to see it with the same eyes. Why couldn’t we embrace such simple joys?” ~ John Shors

“To amuse oneself in order that one may exert oneself, as Anacharsis puts it, seems right; for amusement is a sort of relaxation, and we need relaxation because we cannot work continuously.” ~ Aristotle

“Child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived within him and who he will miss terribly.” ~ Pablo Neruda

“Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.” ~ Heraclitus

“Genius is play, and man’s capacity for achieving genius is infinite, and many may achieve genius only through play.” ~ William Saroyan

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which.” ~ Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand

“Sometimes, the inessential is essential.” ~ T. L. Rese

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” ~ Plato

Source: Natl Institute for Play
Photo credit: Russell Trow

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