Parents: board games or bored games?
Playing for connection
Maybe it is as if the addictive power of the latest shiny tech smartphone or tablet might be loosening its grip on us all at last – or at least for some of us. Or, maybe it’s just not so great after all that everyone is plugged into their own gadgets having their independent, but solitary experiences online.
Whatever the cause, there has been a recent resurgence in the popularity of playing board games with friends in cafe´s or bars and for families spending an evening together in their sitting rooms.
A clue for this is that the most powerful drive of human nature is of connection to one another. We thirst for it and literally cannot thrive without it. It’s primaeval and these instincts are hardwired into our ‘old brain’. The ‘old brain’ is the innermost part of the brain, the part nearest the spinal cord.
It’s this part of our brain that carries out the same functions for us today as they did for our ancient ancestors. The ‘old brain’ is in charge of basic survival functions, such as breathing, moving, resting, and feeding, and creates our experiences of emotion. Further brain layers developed in mammals including humans that provide more advanced functions—for instance, better memory, more sophisticated social interactions, and the ability to experience emotions.
In recent years smartphones and tablets have changed the way we spend time together so that even when in the same room together attention can be fractured or disassociated by the sound of an electronic ping.
A board game is a perfect antidote to the tech overwhelm many are experiencing today. In fact, there’s nothing like a board game played between two or more people to bring attention back to the here and now.
What is also great about board games is how the structure and rules of a game allow friends or family to express healthy competition under the guise of playing a game.’
With board games, there is a compelling emotional link to childhood for people. In many cases, although of course not everyone, childhood felt like a less chaotic or challenging time, and we can be nostalgic for that too.
Board games give people an even playing field to compete with each other and permission to go all-out to win. This can make thrashing your mates at Scrabble momentarily heartening especially for those who are struggling in other areas of their life.
Work for many has never felt more pressured, and relationships can be complicated, so even a small victory is a victory.
Research by Alex Lickerman, M.D., author of ‘Happiness in this World: Reflections of a Buddhist Physician’ confirms that when couples actively compete together whether in a sporting capacity such as on a volleyball team; a treasure hunt team; or even the same team for a group board game there are definite benefits.
For instance, it enhances their sense of cohesiveness, often even if they lose.
He further suggests a strong connection is reinforced by shared experience, the antithesis of our tech experience.
Gil Greengross, Ph.D., author of ‘Humor Sapiens: The laughing ape and other insights into the nature of funny.’ recommended catching a funny movie or going to a comedy club.
Hip also said “Sharing a laugh together is always helpful, but often couples are too stuck in their routines to crack each other up. Letting someone else tell the jokes takes away pressure.”
All of these activities break patterns of behaviour that can make our intimate relationships or how we interact with our friends seem stuck in a routine that might not give us what we need.
Robert Taibbi, the author of ‘Fixing Families: Tools for walking the intergenerational tightrope,’ gave some great advice when he said “If you need more affection, give it. More sex, offer it. More listening, do it. By giving what you desire, you break old relationship patterns and let your partner know what relationship elements matter to you.”
So, if you’re looking for a more significant connection with the people love and care about turn off the tech and sit around a table to play some board games. You never know where a game of Scrabble could lead…
If you are struggling to find a connection with others or even connecting to yourself you may need a few more strategies than a game of Monopoly can afford to make the first move and connect with me via the Discovery Call link on this page and we can take it from there.
Sally Baker is Senior Therapist, published Author and Speaker in private practice in London for face to face sessions and the world over via the internet.
With almost twenty years of professional experience, she employs cutting-edge therapeutic approaches to help one person at a time to transform their lives.
She has extensive experience working with people to alleviate their anxiety, depression, anger issues, eating disorders as well as conflicts within relationships and the family.
To find out more about Sally Baker, her books and her work visit her website, www.workingonthebody.com