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So, What Is Play?    

So, What Is Play?

At Madhappy, we define play as taking part in an activity simply for the enjoyment of it. We don’t play to accomplish or achieve anything, we play to bring ourselves unbridled joy. 

We continuously talk about our role as optimists, and being able to play is a big part of that. Playing, even as adults, reduces stress, allows us to see other perspectives, and promotes optimism. That’s what we’re all about. 

Artwork by FISK

So, What Is Play?

Play is personal. Close your eyes and think of the word “play”. 

What images and memories come to mind? Is it running around in your backyard with the neighborhood kids? Is it playing pretend with Polly Pockets? Whatever brings you that imbued sense of childhood, effortlessness, and light-heartedness is what play is for you. 

Play can’t be narrowed down into one, single definition, but rather, takes on many characteristics. 

Play is:

  • An activity that is self-chosen and self-directed, it’s not an “assignment”, it’s an expression of freedom.
  • It is conducted primarily for its own sake. It’s an activity where means are more valued than ends.
  • It’s rules or structure is made up by the minds of the players.
  • It is imaginative, non-literal, mentally removed in some way from “real” life
  • It involves an active, alert, and non-stressed mindset. Play is “flow”. 

It is important to distinguish playfulness and the act of play. Playfulness has to do with motivation and perspective, not with the behavior. Any activity can be approached with an attitude of playfulness, including work, friendships, and familial duties. The act of play, however, is a distinct and intentional engagement in activities that take us away from our general responsibilities, as a means to joyful experience in its purest form.