I have to admit a particular fondness for the topic of our cover story—play. In an era when self-worth is often equated with how packed our calendars are, giving in to experiences that may not really accomplish anything can seem rather worthless. But research suggests otherwise. Taking time for play helps energize you, relieve stress, and boost creativity. It offers the opportunity to deepen relationships, and even keeps your mind youthful. Finding a definition of play is surprisingly difficult, but basically the activity needs to be one you choose to do, alone or with others, which in some way is mentally removed from real or serious life, according to play expert Peter Gray. You have to active and alert — napping doesn't count —but not stressed.
Cultivating aimlessness is now drawing the attention of entrepreneurs. Adult coloring books have zoomed to top seller status on Amazon. There are summer camps for adults, and in NYC, one forward-thinking business offers adults the opportunity, for a hefty fee, to relive preschool—fingerpainting is a top activity. But there's no need to spend a lot of money or regress to being a 4 year old to enjoy some play time. Here are the criteria for choosing an activity: it has to be fun, it can't fulfill an obligation, and it shouldn't involve a screen of any kind. Now go explore.
To your health!