The reason I love “play” as a framework for life is that it can’t be defined by any one characteristic. Play is an innate trait that can be harnessed in many areas from your work to your recreation. You inherently know, and can recognize, that some people like to play outside, some play video games. Some people are hard to play with, and some people are easy to play with. Some play is short and sweet and some play lasts for hours. It is a perfect way to think about your career, relationships, and hobbies because play can be in all or none of those things. Play can make your whole life more fun and fulfilling.
Here are some of the key characteristics that make play different from work and other experiences in our life:
- You can force anyone to play. It must be freely chosen.
- Play must be challenging enough to engage your full focus on the present moment.
- Play must generate positive feelings of joy, wonder, and self-actualization. You should feel like the best version of yourself.
- Play is movement between order and chaos. Order to order is boring, and chaos to chaos is overwhelmingly stressful, but there is magic in being able to dance between the two with some sort of control.
- Play creates bonding between the players and a continuation desire.
Play evolves the players by opening the mind and energizing the body. Its challenging games create what scientists call Eustress. It is a positive form of stress that releases the good chemicals and endorphins as well as the stress responses to allow you to perform at your best.
Rather than fight, flight or freeze, you get fun, flow, and fulfillment.
Playful Personality Styles
There are many ways to be more playful in your life. You might be an Athlete and love to move your body. You might be a practical joker or comedian. You might like to facilitate fun for other people as a director, creator, or storyteller. You might be an explorer, deep thinker, or collector. Regardless of how you find your playful state, doing more of what you love will lead to more confidence, creativity, connection, and physical and mental conditioning that will lead to greater levels of success in the rest of your life and work!
A great way to get started is to take our playful personality quiz and uncover your inner child’s favorite way to play. Take the quiz at https://playfulhumans.com/quiz/ or subscribe to the Playful Humans podcast in your favorite app.
I am 100% an advocate for play because I believe it has the power to restore the damage we have done to our society, our mental health, and our humanity.
Our mission at Playful Humans is to remind adults about the power of play. We want to create a safe space to play, give you ideas and inspiration for how to play, and give you permission and confidence to reframe your attitude toward your work and play.
Who else in our society is encouraging you to play, fall in love, and find joy on your own terms? Share your ideas in the comments or join our private community for these conversations.