Last week during one of our Mindfulness Clay sessions – I cheekily opened my eyes for a moment and witnessed a cherry picker slowly rise past the window with two guys in it. As it took me a while to connect and focus on what exactly was happening, I ended up locking eyes with the guy in the Cherry picker and we shared a silent giggle.
I immediately felt nothing else but complete amusement by what was happening. Usually in this scenario, I begin to feel anxious that this interruption is taking away from the users experience – a distraction – an annoyance – so, I looked at the rest of the people in the clay session and was delighted to see they were completely zoned in and focused and had no idea what was loudly happening outside the window. It’s the spontaneity of moments like this that surge my brain into an absurd territory and all of sudden, the stakes of the moment drop away leaving nothing but absolute delight. For me, this is my play. I love finding moments in serious contexts to create the feeling of play for myself. By choosing to be amused at disruptions rather than frustrated, It significantly improves my mood and contributes to my overall wellbeing.
Other than these serendipitous moments – there are a lot of other ways I naturally find playfulness in my day. For me, it doesn’t alway have to be a physical action of active playing – instead engaging the play muscle in the brain to be receptive and open to any offer as a potential play without leaving my seat.
In a world where we have put emphasis on logic and facts, we lose a place for discovery and curiosity. Just take a minute to look at your surroundings and rediscover the objects in front of you. What is this? What is in it? This laptop or device you’re on, what is inside it? How does it function? How are you holding it? It’s fascinating how we just accept our environment without presently being curious about what is really happening. Now, I’m not suggesting you throw your device at a concrete wall to appease your curiosity. But do it, if impulse strikes! It’s the sheer act of thinking curiously which is just as beneficial as acting on your curiosities. Stay interested. Keep asking questions!
Ya know, when you’re in the office and you’re listening to music and your favourite song comes on and you feel like dancing but you’re like… I can’t, someone will see me. Just remember that no one is actually looking at you. They’re busy working. Or busy thinking the exact same thing. Be the playful leader and take the lunch space stage like this guy does. Or sometimes people are looking and it’s just what they need. Yesterday, I danced across Civic Square and was so delighted to look up and see an elderly woman just smiling and nodding at me. The story I’m telling myself is that I made her day! Any chance I get to be silly, I take it. Like these moments, and make sure someone captures it!
Choosing Play over Perfect.
I find that I have to reject perfectionism to make way for play. To me, perfect is a fabricated expectation that takes away from a basic human instinct to play, create, test, try, fail and accept. It puts too much pressure on me to ‘get the result’ rather than enjoying the process. Having the openness to be a clown frees me up to not worry about being competent, superior and gives me full permission to transcend expectations to stay in the norm.
Find that person/dog/child who…
When I feel stuck and serious, I call an old school mate for a chat and almost instantly we are transported back in time to when things felt far more interesting. The cheeky 14 years olds in us crawl back out and we lose so much time bantering about nothing serious . We talk in a way that is so unidentifiable to anyone else, it’s comical, and we just sit and reminisce and find humor in how much we’ve grown since the days of smoking paper ciggies in the school changing rooms.
While talking about Playfulness last week and putting it into practice I realised my biggest challenge is how Playfulness and Productivity have a difficult time hanging out together. I find as soon as I start feeling curious about what’s happening outside, I lose focus from my current task. I am learning now, to seek out specific playful moments, be open to a moment being ‘playful’ and generate more space in my day to just be present rather than filling my day with doing. I’m always looking for a way to get past the idea that Play is the opposite to Work, and to instead build an environment where the two can go hand in hand, bringing out the best in each other.
Would love to hear what your relationship to play is and how you incorporate it into your day! send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org