Boing Boing has a great article on the importance of self directed play. Neuroscience research has been uncovering the importance of exploring your own interests, of wandering freely in the fields of knowledge. Play nurtures resilience, creativity, intelligence and happiness.
From the article:
Stuart Brown, author of The Neuroscience of Play, advocates, “Play is…more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults – and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.” It is through self-directed play that we discover who we are. Coaches and experts often admonish us, “Find your passion!” Then they offer questionnaires and processes. The truth is, the very best way to find our passions is to give ourselves the gift of time for self-directed play.