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All Work and No Play: The Pointless Divide

I was very fortunate to attend some workshops on improvisation recently. The first workshop was delivered by the wonderful Gary Schwartz, who took us through a series of structured exercises, or dare I call them, games.

After he gave us the instructions for the first game and we played it, he asked us what it felt like to play. A barrage of answers came from the participants about how energized and present they felt and Gary talked about how important these states of being are in everyday life. Every person spoke of a state which was altered through engaging in an exercise which lasted a few minutes, and soon we all became serious again. Gary then invited us to play again, and in a moment all of that thinking, analyzing, in-brain activity was suspended yet again.

At a point in the year where we all like to shut down, I have been thinking a lot about the need to shut down at all. If we engaged in a more playful way with things generally, perhaps we wouldn't feel so drained? I have moments, days where I feel uninspired, and I can feel that call to play calling from within.

I am very lucky that I get to facilitate sessions which are based around play. I feel lifted by observing people engage and become liberated in the process of playing games. Sometimes I don't call them games, I call them exercises in case the word elicits some resistance. But deep down I know the results are the same.

I see people leave my training's and workshops and wonder whether they will play again. Do they return to a desk and soon enough does the feeling they had which signifies their lack of play return too? Anyone who has trained or facilitated a session incorporating improv can attest to the joy and creativity the modality affords, but surely there must be room for this in everyday life? In everyday work, would it not reduce our spiraling stress levels and promote overall well-being?

I finish my working year tomorrow delivering a session on games, and I cannot wait to facilitate it and play. As I get older, I become less interested in work and more interested in play. I have found play has been an easier route to happiness and success, whereas work places unnecessary constraints and obstacles in my way.

If you pass a playground early in the morning, when there aren't many children inside, you will invariably find one rogue parent, whooping as they fly down on the zip wire. I am usually one on them! We all have this play instinct, and it is high time that this blended in our everyday lives.

Wishing you all a Playful Christmas

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