Few books change the way I view the world. Play is one of them. I almost missed it. I began Play several months ago and put it down after the first chapter, thinking that I understood the central premise and didn’t need to read more. Months later, someone referred to the book, and I decided to pick it back up. Most non-fiction books start strong and then lose steam. Not Play. It gets better and better, although sometimes the power of what Brown says gets lost in the endless studies he references.

            As I read more of Play, I came to appreciate Stuart Brown’s depth and wisdom as he applied the value to play across all venues of life. He makes a strong case that play is integral to joy and life satisfaction, suggesting that relationships and love are kept fresh and magnified by regularly playing together. Finding ways to have fun and enjoy our jobs is fundamental to satisfying and productive work, according to Brown.

            One part of his book that I particularly enjoyed was his description of the different “play personalities.” Just like the “love languages,” this concept helped me understand that play is experienced uniquely by different people. One person loves board games, the next person loves to take photographs. 

The eight personality types are: (More than one can apply)

  • The Joker – “A joker’s play always revolves around some kind of nonsense.”
  • The Kinesthete – Kinesthetes are people who like to move to have fun.
  • The Explorer – Exploration, and curiosity Thrill the Explorer. Think Richard Branson or Jane Goodall.
  • The Competitor – The competitor loves the games with winners and losers. They love the challenge and keeping score.
  • The Director – Directors are born organizers who love to create scenes and events. 
  • The Collector – The thrill for the collector is to find and gather the best, the most interesting collection of objects or experiences.
  • The Artist/Creator – The artist/creator loves the purity of making things. This can extend beyond art to other creative venues such as wood-working or building.
  • The Storyteller – The storyteller loves activities that involve the imagination. 

There is so much to glean from Play. As I have described in other blogs, I am a driven person who often has a hard time relaxing. Play helped me see what I am missing. Brown writes, “When we stop playing, we stop developing, and when that happens, the laws of entropy take over—things fall apart. When we stop playing, we start dying.” Making the point further, “Over the long haul, when these spice-of-life elements are missing, what is left is a dulled soul.”

            In a time when stress is running off the charts with worries about health, careers, and finances, play is a needed antidote. Having fun should not be relegated to special occasions and vacations. If life is stressful now or your relationships need a boost, consider making play part of the solution.