My 2019 vision board had a new element of “PLAY”. When I think of the word play I think of children or sports. Given there are no children in my life (no kids, no grandkids) and I’m not a big fan of competitive games, I don’t think I play on a regular basis. I began to wonder what PLAY on my vision board means for me.
I had explored the concept of leisure in the past, and wondered if PLAY was similar or different. My past framework for Leisure had 7 different elements of types of activities. I have added a number of these activities into my life (and plan some additional ones in the future), but am I truly playing?
- Creative Expression – Personal Artistry – writing, painting, making music, dance, jewelry making, crafting, cooking, etc.
- Physical Activity – Exercise & Beyond – walking, biking, hiking, SUP, tennis, Zumba, golf, dance lessons, running, cardio work out, strength training, martial arts, etc.
- Intellectual Stimulation – Learning New Things/Skills – chess, birding, cooking class, architecture, new language, study mysticism, astronomy, learn to swim, learn to sail, OLLI, etc.
- Social Interaction – book club, dining out, happy hour, team sports, etc.
- Solitary Relaxation – yoga, journaling, reading, crosswords, coloring books, gardening, etc.
- Spectator Appreciation – art gallery walks, theater, following sports, craft shows, etc.
- Travel Experiences – stay-cation activities, big trip travel planning, vocation vacation, RoadScholar, etc.
On line research gives the definition of PLAY a slightly different feel than just Leisure Activity. Play is choosing to engage in an activity for enjoyment of doing it rather than a serious or practical purpose or the endpoint. The characteristics of play all have to do with motivation and mental attitude, not with the overt form of the activity. Two people might be throwing a ball, or pounding nails, or typing words on a computer, and one might be playing while the other is not. It is not about what they are doing, but rather their attitude toward it. Play can be defined with 5 elements:
- Play is self-chosen and self-directed – there is a sense of freedom in choosing to do it. It is something you want to do, not something you feel obliged to do. You also have the freedom to quit at any time.
- Play is activity in which means are more valued than ends – enjoyment of the process, not the importance of the endpoint.
- Play has structure, or rules, which are not dictated by physical necessity but emanate from the minds of the players.
- Play is imaginative, non-literal, mentally removed in some way from “real” or “serious” life. It often takes place in a fantasy world rather than the real world and the ends do not have immediate consequences in the real world.
- Play involves an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind. Because play is more about the process than the outcome, there is less fear of failure.
I found a few examples of play very compelling to consider adding to my future thinking:
- Constructive play – the playful building of something. There is the goal of creating the object, but the primary objective is the creation of the object, not the having of the object once it is built. While there are the ideas of building a sand castle on the beach, or raking a pile of leaves for jumping in, there is also creating a craft or making art. A friend recently took up sketching and uses the backside of old reports because she tosses out everything – the fun is in the creation. I’ve thought about turning found objects into crafts before… perhaps that is my new play outlet?
- Competitive play is directed toward the goal of scoring points and winning in a game. When the activity is truly a play one, it is the process of scoring that matters to the player, not some subsequent consequence of having won (or lost). A recent evening of shuffleboard was certainly this! I’ve never considered myself competitive and now I understand why – I like the process of playing the game but hate the winner/loser element. Where can I add in more non-competitive game playing this coming year?
- Physical play – Children do this regularly – run, jump, and play games such as hide & seek or tag. How might I add in more physical play with others into my life?
The big learning about play for me is the enjoyment of the process, not the outcome! So whether it’s playing shuffleboard, making crafts, completing puzzles, coloring, or writing a blog, it’s about the journey… not the destination. Now I understand why PLAY came into my vision board this year!
How do you play?