The Smart Art of Friendship: The Gift of Play

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

Why is playfulness important in friendship? And what is it anyway?

Playfulness is made up of many elements. It is, in part, about bringing lightness, fun and humor to every kind of experience. It is also about being curious and open. A child-like quality, playfulness includes the ability to laugh at ourselves, not take ourselves or what we do too seriously, which can be challenging! Playfulness allows for flexibility, spontaneity and creativity in our friendships.

Think about the energy you feel when you laugh and play with a friend, about how it feels to let go and let loose. Think about the last time you belly-laughed with a friend, what were you doing? Who were you with?

Playfulness is one of the seven key qualities of healthy friendships and relationships. Playing together and being playful strengthens our friendships. When we play, we get to know each other better and in new, sometimes interesting, ways! Engaging in playful interactions with our friends acts as an investment in the “friendship bank”. It creates memories, stories, and history to draw upon when there is less energy available for our friendship(s).

When we experience stress or have to navigate difficult times in our lives, play can be a wonderful and healthy distraction. This is a unique aspect to friendship; our friends are those people in our lives with whom we can play, relax, and remove ourselves from our worries and stresses. Play also increases our capacity to consider different perspectives which helps us face stressful situations.

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” ~ Diane Ackerman

Playfulness and play come in many forms.
Here are just a few ways we can play together:

  • Cooperative play — building something together, singing in harmony, planning a party with your friends, planning a trip, making a fort or  cooking together.
  • Relaxing play — spa day, restorative yoga, meeting for afternoon tea or coffee.
  • Creative play — creating art, crafts, gardening, baking or preparing for a costume or dress-up party.
  • Competitive play — team sports, sporting activities, games like scrabble, charades or bridge.
  • Physically active play — high ropes course, hooping class, rock-climbing, golfing, stand-up paddle boarding, bowling, dancing, canoeing, biking, running or hiking.
  • Mental play — taking a class, learning a new activity, playing chess, video games, book clubs or board games.
  • Passive play — watching sports, movies, concerts or lectures.
  • And there is also playing with ideas, dreams, concepts, plans and how we see ourselves.

Each of these different kinds of play has different purposes or outcomes which can include: fun, relaxation, chilling out with friends, creativity, enjoyment, pleasure, silliness, goofiness, risk-taking and “nerdiness”.

“We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!”
~ George Bernard Shaw

Whether you are looking for new friends or to deepen existing friendships, finding ways to play and be playful is a great strategy. Engaging in fun leisure activities is a sure-fire way to attract like-minded people and potentially becoming friends or to re-connect with your GFF (Good Friend Forever) and re-establish your like-mindedness.

Questions to ponder:
What fun, playful activities have you been wanting to try or dreaming of doing (again)?
Do you have friends with whom it is easier to play, laugh or try new things?
What can you do to bring playfulness, silliness, or fun to your friendship(s)?

Sources:
The Center for RIght Relationship
Quotes on play from: http://www.thestrong.org/about-play/play-quotes http://myplayfullife.com/playful_links/quotes.html

Copyrighted 2013 – The Smart Art of Friendship- Ruth Tamari and Amy Greenleaf Brassert

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