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Diane Dreher's Tao of Inner Peace Blog

Embracing the Spirit of Play

When was the last time you felt playful—having fun, laughing, and enjoying life?


Play comes naturally to children. When I was a child, I loved playing with my dog and playing marbles, climbing trees, playing hide-and-go-seek and touch football with my friends. Research has found that childhood play develops our brains, especially our ability to learn, create, and strengthen our bonds of friendship.[1]


We may not realize now that playfulness is equally important for us as adults. Too often we can get so caught up in our adult duties and responsibilities that we forget to play. Yet research has shown that playful behavior can expand our perspective, help relieve depression, and increase our wellbeing and joy in life. [2] It can broaden and build our personal resources, resilience, and ability to flourish.[3]


As we face our challenging world today, developing greater playfulness can bring us hope and healing on many levels. The Dalai Lama has faced many serious challenges. He was exiled from his home in Tibet, yet now he partners with neuroscientists conducting research on the effects of meditation on our brains and works for world peace. When I think of him, I recall his infectious laughter, his sense of playfulness and joy in the present moment.


I invite you to add more of this playful energy to your days.

You can begin by joining me in this brief meditation to reconnect with the spirit of play.


  • If you're in a safe, quiet space, close your eyes and take a deep mindful breath into your heart and slowly release it.
  • Then take another breath, slowly breathing in and breathing out.
  • Breathing in, breathing out.
  • Now as you breathe slowly and deeply, connecting with your heart, recall a time when you were filled with the joyous sense of play.
  • When was it? Where were you? What were you doing?
  • Feel the vital, joyous energy fill your mind and body.
  • Breathing in joy, breathing out loving, vibrant energy.
  • Know that this playful spirit is an essential part of you as you breathe in this renewed awareness.


When you are ready, open your eyes with a renewed sense of joy and vitality.

How can you discover one way to bring this spirit of play into today?


I wish you joy on the path.



[1] Fredrickson, B. (2002). Positive emotions. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (eds.). Handbook of positive psychology, (pp. 120-134). New York, NY: Oxford University Press; Panksepp, J. (1998). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, psychostimulants, and intolerance of childhood playfulness: A tragedy in the making? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 7, 91-98.

[2] Proyer, R. Y., Brauer, K., Gander, F., & Chick, G. (2021). Can playfulness be stimulated? A randomized placebo-controlled online playfulness intervention study on effects on trait playfulness, well-being, and depression. Applied Psychology Health and Well-Being, 13 (1), 129-151.

[3] Fredrickson, B. & Joiner, T. (2002). Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological Science, 13, 172-175. 


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