Consider the official definition of play: engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. And yet hard science and deep wisdom tell us that play is neither silly nor impractical. The desire to engage in enjoyable experiences for their own sake is hard-wired into the brains of all mammals, and humans are no exception. Children deprived of independent play often pay the price in decreased social and emotional well-being. Conversely, adults who remain playful throughout life have better longevity. This is particularly true for people who have experienced chronic stress and/or acute trauma.
Despite its value, time spent playing has dropped precipitously. We bring our work home on tablets and smartphones. We pursue self-improvement with militaristic zeal. Entertainment passively floods our senses in a never-ending cycle of clicks, likes and swipes. As animals, we have evolved to thrive in a three-dimensional environment that engages our senses and emotions, yet our ever-increasing online activity (ironically called social media) can isolate us from deeper and more rewarding experiences.
PLAYING FOR KEEPS examines the value of play through a health lens. We feature high-performing individuals who prioritize play as essential to a happier life. We witness how play is a particularly powerful antidote to those subjected to stress and danger on the job, while highlighting the power of a playful approach to our daily lives, regardless of our circumstance.