Play

Part five in a series of six posts on my experience with the high-concept, high-touch aptitudes presented in Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind, that are needed to bring us into the new conceptual era.  Check the original post for background.

Time to play, says Dan Pink! When is the last time you played?  As children we dedicate ourselves to mastering the art of play in an attempt to understand the world, interact with it, engage ourselves and grow our mind and senses.  Somewhere down the line we lose that creative art to ‘real-world’ responsibilities and concerns.  Laughter, humor, and games all take a back seat to supposed adult activities.  Well Mr, Pink would argue the healthiest thing we have going for our bodies, mind, and spirit is a bit of play!

In fact, Fortune 500 companies are hiring clowns and comedians to provide comedic relief to employees during the work day.  Laughter clubs convene at the work place to offer respite from the dull drums of the office.  And the gaming industry has surpassed the motion picture industry; Americans spend more money on games than movie tickets.  What is this telling us? Games are a form of learning and require that participants recognize patterns, synthesize information and problem solve using much of their right-brained aptitudes.  Think: symphony and story.  It’s the right brain that helps us understand humor as well.

When we are at play we are enjoying ourselves, often times we are in good company, and we are exercising our spirit while our mind rests.  I’d argue that the developing world has the upper hand on this one.  A simpler life not only lends to more playtime but perhaps also is one in which certain values, like time for play, have remained in place.  Countries with lower percentages of mental health problems and greater joy have not succumbed to our notions of productivity, competition, and consumerism-things that rob us of play. The Portuguese certainly taught me about this one.  Social gatherings to enjoy family and friends never had an end time.  Weekend lunches with friends lasted into the evening.  Sunday day trips ended well past sundown.  Birthday party attendees were never rushing off to another event.  I think this also points to the fact that PLAY really puts us in the present moment.  To play we are fully in the now.   In our Western world, we would be fighting an uphill battle to shift a cultural perspective towards these things, but what we can do is create more play time in our individual lives.  And in doing so, we become happier, more joyful people.  And that is contagious.

So put a bit more laughter in your life.  Check out these laughter clubs that Pink mentions in his book.  Have some fun in your free time-create the space for it and it will create a happier, healthier you.

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~ by maureenmoore on December 31, 2009.

5 Responses to “Play”

  1. Oh yeah- here’s a new word for you to look up: Gelotology

  2. Dear Mocita,
    Surely I thought your fingers were flying when “gelotology” was typed and certainly you meant “gelAtology.” Because, after all, who would need to study “gelAto”? That’s an experiential thing or maybe it’s because I was craving ice cream. In any event, I went to the dictionary (a big, hard-cover book made of paper!) and sought “gelotology.” But before doing so, I flashed back to my junior-high English teacher and broke the word into syllables: gel-oto-ology. Okay, “gel” is easy; “oto” means ear; and “ology” is “study of.” Put them together: study of ear gel! No way anyone is studying ear gel (maybe “gelotology” sounds better than “waxotology”?) The last laugh was on me: in my EARnest pursuit of play, I went to the far reaches of my past and re-discovered my joy of etymology (not to be confused with my more recent bouts with entomology at the Stanford job). Thanks, Mosey! ~Tia Loquita

  3. Boy we look happy! What are we laughing at?

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