Play, SoulPancake, and Building Your Anti-Depressant Brain

When it comes to happiness, says Elisha Goldstein, there's a simple but important tool we often forget about: play. 

For years now, I’ve been studying what helps create more resilience and happiness within us. I’ve looked at my own life, the life of my clients and students, and the psychological and neuroscience research. What I’ve found is that within each and every one of us are a core set of natural anti-depressants. When we intentionally tap into these resources, it shifts our brain activity in ways that can lend itself to shaping an anti-depressant brain. One of the natural anti-depressants that I’ve come to find that helps break a bad mood and create positive neural activity is Play!

In Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion I describe play as “a flexible state of mind in which you are presently engaged in some freely chosen and potentially purposeless activity that you find interesting, enjoyable, and satisfying.”

Here’s a great video that shows adults playing and the results. Take a look and see what you notice.

When adults were put in an enriched environment where the cues elicited play, they became more engaged, open, and most seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves.

Research from Marion Diamond out of UC Berkeley shows that rats who…