The Power of Play

For 3 years I lived in Kobe, Japan. Lived. I mean, fully lived. I lived so much, laughed so hard, and played so vigorously that a whole new me burst forth - Happy Robin Shaw, international fashion reporter and photographer. This was odd, because this was the opposite of who I was back home in Indianapolis, Indiana - the heartland of the hard-working U.S.A.

My instagram account was born on the streets of Dontonburi tasting Octopus for the first time on New Year's Eve. I took field trips for foreigners sponsored by CHIC (Community House and Information Center), I danced, I hiked, I explored. And not only that - I sampled and savored Japan's candies, desserts, toys, games, and innumerable tiny objects all cute enough to take your breath away! I was in heaven. Inspiration was everywhere and it flowed and flowed and flowed.

When I returned to the United States I found that Happy Robin Shaw had a hard time coming with me. Back home, no one wanted to play but they did have a lot of questions for Happy Robin Shaw when they saw my pictures. "I just don't know how to do that," they would say, "I don't think I could do that."

"Do what? Have fun?"

Yikes. Houston, we have a problem.

Most of us live our whole adult lives in tiny, stressed out boxes sealed tight where the creative juices can't get in. When we're young, however, we play! We pretend. We dress up. There are no limits. None. But then we grow up and there are only limits - all we hear about is what we can't do, and why it won't work.

"Soccer icon David Beckham has said that he plays with Lego pieces to control stress. Comedian Ellen DeGeneres playfully pranks her television guests. While serving as Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron was known to decompress at the end of a long day with the video game Angry Birds.

The importance of play for children is well documented. Now researchers are turning their attention to its possible benefits for adults. What they’re finding is that play isn’t just about goofing off; it can also be an important means of reducing stress and contributing to overall well-being."

Specifically, adults should play because:

  • "It’s good for your stress levels. Play can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. These promote an overall sense of wellbeing and can temporarily relieve pain.

  • It improves your brain function. Playing games that challenge the brain – such as chess and puzzles – can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. This can also help ward off depression.

  • It stimulates your mind and boosts activity. And, it makes you more productive. More companies – like Google – have set up play stations and encourage employees to play and collaborate. This, in turn, helps foster team building and cooperation within the company. It’s a win-win situation.

  • It improves your relationships. Laughing and having fun with others can foster empathy, compassion, trust and intimacy. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers and make new friends."

Now that's good for business. Let's Play!

P.S. Check out one of my favorite new toys, Baby Yoda A.K.A. Mandalorian The Child

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