Leon Neyfakh at bostonglobe.com writes about the interest of scientific researchers in adult playfulness. We’ve seen lots of studies about our activities as workers, thinkers, and problem solvers but now psychologists are taking a hard look at the effects of adults engaging in play. People are seeking an escape from the stress and the tensions of the times through humor. Or as Kurt Vonnegut put it: "We are on earth to fart around." All one has to do is glance at the popularity of shared cartoons on Facebook or funny animal videos on YouTube to see what we mean.
Some researchers have discovered that playfulness as a personality trait is a pathway to creativity, pleasure, and coping with anxiety. In addition, playfulness is alluring; it makes both men and women more attractive to the opposite sex. The only problem, according to Neyfakh, is that playfulness research is still in its early stages and there is confusion and debate over how to measure it. Those who are interested in keeping up with this subject should keep their eyes open for a 10-hour TV series called "Now Playing" about "the vital importance of play to our happiness, well-being, and the future of life."
Meanwhile, we'll continue to offer you content on play as a spiritual practice, such as:
- reviews of children's picture books that remind us of the fun of play; a Buddhist book on the world as a playground, The Buddha Walks into a Bar by Lodro Rinzler;
- Catholic James Martin's Between Heaven and Mirth with examples from scripture and teaching stories from the religions about the lives of the saints on the way of joy and humor;
- Robert Alper's Thanks. I Needed That and Other Stories of the Spirit from rabbi who is a stand-up comic;
- Protestant minister Susan Sparks's Laugh Your Way to Grace. She ends her book with this plea for playfulness: