July 9, 2013

Cartwheels & Cannonballs: 10 Reasons to Play More! ~ Sara Furay

We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

~ George Barnard Shaw

I have decided to prioritize play.

It’s just too good, too important, too fun, not to make play a priority. I’m not going to wait for all my other to-do items to get finished first. I’m going to put play right there at the top with a big box next to it, ready to be checked!

Play is the good stuff and the good stuff really should become the priority. Life just feels better, is better when there is more good stuff.

Here are 10 reasons why you should join me in prioritizing play:

1. Play builds confidence for risk taking. 

Think about it: when you are playing, you reach a little farther than you normally do. You push yourself, you climb a little higher, you leap off things, you go a little faster. You put aside your fears and you go for the things you may not normally go for. You do this because you are having fun!

Think of all the pictures floating around of the Tough Mudder and the Rugged Maniac, and all those other crazy obstacle races.

This is all just big-kid play!

2. It allows you to release aggression

Seriously, a pillow fight, making a big splash, running hard, tagging someone out, nailing someone in the tush with a water balloon (Ha! You know it’s fun). It releases the pent up icky stuff we sometimes carry around with us, and we feel better, calmer, happier when we are finished.

3. Playing helps us be flexible and stay chill when things go wrong.

When we play, things never go exactly how we think. We always have to shift and change our course. It’s a little unpredictable, but that’s why it is fun. We learn to go with the flow and just enjoy what’s happening right there, right in front of us.

We learn clothes are just clothes, and can be washed. Skinned knees heal and making mistakes really isn’t a big deal. You just try again.

4. Play reduces stress.

5. Play builds intrinsic motivation.

When we play, we do things because we want to; play has its own natural reward. We work harder because there is often a goal we want to meet, or you’re part of a team, or just because it’s fun. We put in extra effort because we want to, not because we have to, or are getting paid to. This is a good feeling to have, and a good feeling to remember.

Feeling this kind of motivation and remembering what it feels like can act as a compass in other parts of our lives.

6. Play keeps us young.

This is a youth tonic I can get my brain around. More play!

7. Play allows us to simultaneously relax and concentrate.

Two great skills to cultivate!

8. Play builds relationships.

We all know this is true; we just feel closer to people when we have fun and laugh with them. And, our relationships with others bring so much happiness to our lives. These relationships are where the true meaning of living lies.

9. Play improves our ability to persevere.

With play, when we fall down, we get up and try again, and we keep trying again and again because it’s fun. We rethink things, tweak our ideas, strategies and plans. We don’t give up, we persevere in play.

10. Play just feels good.

It feels good to move and laugh. It feels good to not worry about getting wet or dirty, or looking a little silly. It feels good to just let go.

Here is your chance to re-evaluate today’s to-do list. Where can you add some play?

When we look back fondly remembering our days, no one ever says, “Wow, I am so impressed that I always picked my dry-cleaning up on time,” or “Man, was my life more meaningful because I kept my oil changes up.”

Though they are necessary, errands and chores are just errands and chores, and you rarely remember all the errands and chores you did. We cherish the connections we made with others, the times we laughed, the times we had fun, the times we played.


Get wet.

Get muddy.

Jump in a puddle.

Run through sprinklers.

Climb…climb a tree, a rope, a fence, a mountain…just climb.

Dive into the water, then do somersaults while you’re there.

Write your name with sparklers.

Run as fast as you can.


Roll down a hill.

Play basketball, volleyball, badminton or kick ball, play tag. Get off the sidelines, stand-up, join!

Play a board game.

Play catch.

Get in a water fight.


Skip higher.

Pretend with children.

Paint a picture, sketch, build, create.

Do a cartwheel, do a cannonball.

Be silly, be spontaneous, have fun, play!



Like elephant journal on Facebook.

  • Assistant Ed: Renée Picard
  • Ed: Bryonie Wise


Read 6 Comments and Reply

Read 6 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Sara Furay