A Play Confession

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When I listen to people talk about play for long enough, they eventually tell me this: “Come to think about it, I don’t really play. I spend most of my time working and I’m too tired to do anything else when I get home. And if I happen to have any spare energy, I feel that I ought to spend it on something worthwhile instead of squandering it on play!”

It’s uncanny because this has always been my default response ever since becoming an adult. In spite of the compulsion to achieve all the time, I’ve come to recognise there is a direct correlation between how much I play and the amount of energy and happiness I feel. In fact, the more I play, the more energy I have, the happier I feel and the more I grow, the more I achieve.

And that’s why I make sure I play at least once a day for at least 15 minutes. Why? Because research shows that getting your daily amount of play is at least as important as taking your vitamins or ensuring you have a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. It’s not always easy to find the time to play, but I know I’ll feel better for it when I’ve played.

Playing to Survive or Thrive?

Judging by the large number of people doing the zombie shuffle during the daily commute, the majority of adults aren’t getting their daily recommended amount of play (15 minutes of play a day should help you overcome most of the ennui or challenges you face according to Dr Stuart Brown, a world-renowned expert on play).

What’s more, I’m seeing a recurring pattern. The more ambitious, hardworking and successful you are, the more likely you are to neglect play. Over a prolonged period of time, this could result in chronic play deficiency. And if we continue to live a life of all work and no true play, we may well end up coming face-to-face with our own Terrible Yoot (in the form of Depression and Despair).

So why not treat yourself to plenty of fun this summer and welcome the autumn with a night at the Curiosity Carousel held in the ultimate fun and crafty venue of Drink Shop Do?

The First Mini Play Adventure in the World

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“You’re a what? A change agent? I thought you were joking when you said that’s what you do.”

And it does feel like a joke much of the time if I’m to be honest.

I met David last Saturday at a mini play adventure, the first event run by The School of Play. The moment I heard my soon-to-be friend David’s words I knew we were going to have lots of fun together.

And so it was that seven strangers met on a beautiful sunny afternoon at Milton Keynes Museum talking, playing and contemplating how we play and our multiple intelligences externalised through play.

I was delighted to discover that there are other adults who, like me, long to play more in their lives and are willing to pursue it wholeheartedly. And as we explored our ideas of play, amongst buttercups and concrete cows, an invisible thread appeared that connected our individual definitions of play.

It turns out one of the reasons adults want to play is because it helps us be authentic. And we want to be authentic because it feels good. Because it connects us with our true selves. Vulnerability researcher Brene Brown calls this “living wholeheartedly”, to show up and allow yourself to be seen. What our mini play adventure demonstrated was that to be authentic, we need a space that is safe and non-judgmental. The same condition necessary for true play.

Play for a Change

Creating The School of Play has been a long-time dream of mine, promoting happier adulthood through lifelong play. Having spent the past 15 years being paid to play as a change agent in large corporations (from airlines to biscuit manufacturing to financial institutions), one of the most effective and efficient ways I’ve found that keeps me going and growing is to play our way through change.

Making Play History

If we wish to change the world, we need to first change ourselves. I hope you’ll join us at the next mini play adventure on Saturday, 25 June, at the historical and beautiful setting of Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire. What better way to transform into our better selves than through play in the company of friends? Hooray!

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