Thursday, November 28, 2013

If You Like It And You're Good At It, Then It's Play

“Almost all of our sorrows spring out of our relations with other people...” — Arthur Schopenhauer

The man who has most studied play is Dr. Stuart Brown. He has come to the conclusion that it is essential to health.

I have come to the same conclusion, and have also found you have to like what you do, and if you like what you do, then you are good at it.

So, in a sentence, if you like what you do, and are good at it, then it's more like play. That is something you have to have in your life in order to be happy. And that is why the Greeks, about 2500 years ago, said that well-being is achieved though excellence - being good at what you do.

Brown has studied more than 6000 life histories, looking at people’s play experiences over their lives. He found that play is essential for children - and adults.

When he studied made a detailed study of homicidal males in Texas, what he found was severe play deprivation in the lives of these murderers. I find that astonishing. It's been known for thousands of years that humiliation leads to the desire for revenge, and that can often led to murder. It also makes sense that humiliated people can't play, and probably couldn't even as children.

Brown found that children who were severely deprived of play demonstrated much dysfunction - loss of emotional control, loss of social competence, loss of resiliency, loss of curiosity. When they became adults they showed social, emotional and cognitive narrowing, inability to handle stress, and often experienced chronic depression.

When Brown later studied highly creative and successful individuals, he found they had a rich play life. "Play," he wrote, "is who we are."

Many have identified areas where play has been damaged, even destroyed.

Public school is one of them, where the influx of uncomprehending women (and their mangina supporters) is attempting to annihilate the natural mayhem of little boys by the use of mind-drugging drugs such as Ritalin and having them arrested by equally uncomprehending police for drawing guns on paper or bringing squirt-guns to school.

Brown wrote: "Beginning in preschool, the natural mayhem that three-to-five-year-olds engage in (normal rough and tumble play) is usually suppressed by a well-meaning preschool teacher and parents who prefer quiet and order to the seeming chaos that is typical of free childhood play...when there are smiles and continuing friendships, rambunctious play is healthy."

"Learning," he wrote, "should not be drudgery. Play promotes true intellectual curiously....the play-less adult becomes stereotyped, inflexible, humorless, lives without irony, loses the capacity for optimism, and generally is quicker to react to stress with violence or depression than the adult whose play life persists."

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi is also famous for studying play. When we are absorbed in what we are doing he called it "Flow": "the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does."

I often wondered why we have no polymaths anymore. I came to the conclusion that one of the main reasons is because most children are not allowed to follow their own interests in public school, and that most of them are not educated in the sense of education drawing out their natural talents. Instead they are often considered cogs to be pounded to fit in a machine. Students are not allowed to play anymore.

What is going to be the end of this lack of education, the suppression of play, and the attempt to turn little boys into automatons? Nothing good.

You're going to get some people saying the hell with public school. They are going to pull their kids out of the public schools and home-school, and if need be, move into rural areas to get away from the destructive environments of bigc cities.

And since it is men who have created just about everything, we're going to get less advancement in every field that supports and maintains society.

Another problem is single mothers. Contrary to the hysterical protestations of some, women cannot raise boys by themselves. The problems associated with women trying to raise boys by themselves are well-documented, to the point there can be no argument.

Brain-destroying public schools, single mothers, marriages not forming or breaking up, the loss of high-paying jobs, the destruction of play...these are the the things that are making society stagnate or go backwards.

I expect to find more revenge, more depression, more drop-outs, more anger. And no one is going to like that or be good at it.

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