Let’s have a serious, tough-love conversation about play.
Before you click off, turn away and tell your computer you don’t have time to play, consider this: you were designed to play. Through play, we discovered the world around us. It’s our method of exploration and education. Playing is how we’ve made it this far, so why’d we stop?
Is it because the world became too much? We have jobs and responsibilities and time management and tasks and places to be and oh yes, money to make! Sure, all of that is true and still, we don’t remember or allow ourselves to know what we’re missing. Play is FUN, yes, and it’s beneficial to us mentally and physically. Playing is about learning something new, doing something new without borders, grades or restrictions. Play is its own point.
Not too long ago we ran a creative play workshop for a bunch of engineers. We gave them the opportunity to interact with their senses - touch, sound, sight and smell, in a joyful way. We asked them to suspend judgement and to live in that moment. Not an easy feat when you’re dealing with people who spend their lives planning. Several amazing things happened. First there was excitement, anticipation and curiosity. When was the last time you were excited and curious at the same time, without the intervention of a fat man in a red suit and a tree? Then there was laughter and conversation, and then came creativity. We asked them to build a particular thing, however they wanted to interpret this thing, with whatever story they wanted to ascribe to the thing, and boy did they do it!
No two things looked alike or even functioned in the same way. When we asked them to share the story of their thing, participants were joyful in the telling. And when we asked them to trade seats with a table mate and look at their thing from a different perspective, the more substantial benefits of play became apparent. To be able to actually sit in someone else’s chair and see what they see, how they see it, is a resonating moment.
Play isn’t just for children and shouldn’t stop when we stop being children. It provides a space without judgment and allows us to access the most creative part of ourselves. It reconnects us with our explorer natures. Studies have shown that creative play can help stave off mental deterioration and can help us build better work teams.
Without exception, every single feedback sheet we received at the end of the workshop mentioned how the event “de-stressed” them and what a joy it was to participate. Imagine how much better off we’d all be if we re-learned how to play.
LB Adams is the Founder of Practical Dramatics headquartered in Charleston, SC. Her company provides a wealth of soft skills training events that utilize theatre strategies to help humans grow more profitable conversations with other humans. To find out more about incorporating creative play into your workplace, please reach out to us at 843-771-0753.