1 week ago

Better Man

30 Days to a better man

30 Days to a better man Humans are in fact the most neotenous species on the planet. Neoteny refers to the retention of immature qualities into adulthood. We’re not talking about pooping in our pants here; rather, humans retain the ability to imagine and play, and this gives us an evolutionary advantage in how flexible and adaptable we are. Humans are uniquely designed to play throughout our entire lifetimes. So we are not supposed to suppress the boy within us completely! While there hasn’t been much research on adults and play (it’s hard to get grants for studies on the subject), scientists who work in the field believe that many of the numerous and scientifically proven benefits that children get from play apply to adults as well. Play boosts our optimism and immune system, increases our happiness, and gives us a sense of belonging and community. According to Dr. Stuart Brown, the head of the National Institute for Play (yes, it’s a real institute), while we think the opposite of play is work, it’s actually depression. Play is also essential to having healthy relationships with others. To quote the NIFP: “Play refreshes a long-term adult-adult relationship; some of the hallmarks of its refreshing, oxygenating action are: humor, the enjoyment of novelty, the capacity to share a lighthearted sense of the world’s ironies, the enjoyment of mutual storytelling, the capacity to openly divulge imagination and fantasies … These playful communications and interactions, when nourished, produce a climate for easy connection and deepening, more rewarding relationship – true intimacy. Take play out of the mix, and like the oxygen deprived cyanotic, the relationship becomes a survival endurance contest. Without play skills, the repertoire to deal with inevitable stresses is narrowed. Even if loyalty, responsibility, duty, and steadfastness remain, without playfulness there will be insufficient vitality left over to keep the relationship buoyant and satisfying.” 154

Brett and Kate McKay What is Play? On the surface, the question of what constitutes play is a simple one. But as adults we lose our sense and feel for play, so it may be beneficial to explain the nature of play a bit. Play is an activity that is done for its own purpose, exclusively for the pleasure of the experience. According to Dr. Brown, if an activity’s “purpose is more important than the act of doing it, it’s probably not play.” Or to put it another way, “Most essential, the activity should not have an obvious function in the context in which it is observed—meaning that it has, essentially, no clear goal.” While we most often think of play in terms of things like tag and foursquare, there are actually 7 different types of play: 1. Attunement. Attunement occurs when individuals mutually create, match, and share their affective states. The best example of this is when a mother or father gazes at their baby, and the baby gazes back. The baby smiles, and the parent coos and smiles back. The right brains of both parent and child are attuned. Another example of this is being a spectator at a sporting event; the fans are attuned to one another and are united by a sense of common emotion. 2. Body Play and Movement. This is the kind of play we probably most often think of when we think of play, not only as children but as adults. Whenever we jump on or over stuff, play football, dance, run, and so on, we receive the pure pleasure of feeling our bodies move and work. Dr. Brown defines Body Play as “the spontaneous desire to get ourselves out of gravity.” 3. Object Play. Object plays occurs when you’re having fun doing something, with, well, an object. Like a boy playing with action figures or pretending that a stick is a sword. Or a man tinkering with an engine or playing catch or golf (perhaps those latter two are especially pleasurable because they combine object play and body play). 155

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