When was the last time you played? As children, we played freely and without inhibition, using our imaginations to create endless possibilities. But as we grow older, many of us leave play behind, dismissing it as frivolous or a waste of time. What if we told you that play is not only essential for physical and mental well-being but also a vital element in unlocking our inner creative genius?
What is Play?
Play is defined as an activity that is undertaken for enjoyment and recreation, rather than a serious or practical purpose. It is often characterized by freedom, imagination, and creativity. It can take many forms, including physical activities such as sports and games, creative endeavors such as art and music, and social interactions with others.
At its core, play is a way to tap into our natural curiosity and desire for exploration. As marketing expert and author Seth Godin notes, “Play is one of the ways we learn how to learn.” By engaging in play, we can discover new ideas, test out different strategies, and learn from our experiences in a way that is both fun and engaging.
Link Between Play & Creativity
Creativity is the ability to generate new and original ideas, and play is a key element in the creative process. When we play, we are free to experiment and take risks without the fear of failure or the pressure of achieving a specific outcome. This freedom allows us to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions to problems.
Play also stimulates the brain and helps us to develop new neural connections. Adam Grant, a renowned organizational psychologist, has conducted extensive research on creativity and play. He suggests that play allows us to engage in divergent thinking, which is the ability to generate multiple solutions to a problem. This type of thinking is essential for creativity, as it allows us to explore many different possibilities and come up with unique ideas. In fact, Grant has found that individuals who engage in play on a regular basis are more likely to have higher levels of creativity and problem-solving skills.
Benefits of Play for Adults
Incorporating play into our daily lives can have significant benefits for adults. “Play is a powerful catalyst for positive change, and its benefits are unquestionable,” says Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play. “Play is needed in our lives from cradle to grave as it provides the opportunity to find and explore, to experiment, and take risks, to create and innovate, to challenge oneself, to feel joy, and to experience a sense of mastery.” He goes on to note that “the opposite of play is not work, it’s depression. When we play, we are engaged in a natural, meaningful, and effective form of learning.”
Playing can help to reduce stress and improve mental health by providing a much-needed break from the daily grind. Diane Ackerman, author of The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us, says “Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning. It improves the efficiency, organization, and resilience of the brain, and it’s necessary for our social, emotional, and cognitive development.” In addition to reducing stress, play can also boost our mood and increase feelings of happiness and well-being.
Ways to Add Play to Your Day-to-Day
Play is an essential element of creativity and can have numerous benefits for both children and adults. Here are a few tips to help you play more often:
Explore new hobbies or activities that bring you joy and are not related to work.
Schedule regular time for leisure activities, such as sports, reading, or spending time with loved ones.
Avoid taking yourself too seriously and let go of perfectionism when engaging in play.
Be open to new experiences and experiment with different activities to stimulate your creativity.
Connect with like-minded people who share your interest in play and creativity. Join a club or community group, or organize regular gatherings with friends and colleagues to play and have fun together.
Incorporating play into our daily lives can help to boost our creativity, problem-solving skills, and overall well-being. So, don’t be afraid to let your inner child out and have some fun – it just might lead to your next big idea!