September 7, 2013

Remaining Open

As an exercise in both mindfulness and self-awareness, I want you to think about each of these questions for a few moments, with the hope of gaining insight into your playful proclivities.

Are you openly allowing playfulness into your life, or can you sense an internal barrier that might be holding you back? 

To help guide you towards answering this main question, read through these follow-ups…

– If you came across swings at a bus stop (like Bruno Taylor’s project in London), would you hop on or stand to the side?

-If you were running a meeting this week, would you have employees ‘throw around’ ideas using a ball or get straight down to business?

-If you hit a road block (boredom, writer’s block, stuck on a work problem, etc.), would you consider engaging in a playful activity to help break down the wall?

There are playful opportunities everywhere, if you’re willing to participate!

Consider this an invitation to engage and embrace your playful self.

April 30, 2013

Play and Immaturity

Finally there are the ambiguities that seem particularly problematic in Western Society, such as why play is seen largely as what children do but not what adults do; why children play but adults only recreate; why play is said to be important for children’s growth but is merely a diversion for adults.

 –Brian Sutton-Smith, The Ambiguity of Play 

Do you think “play” is synonymous with immaturity? What does society think of adults who are playful?

March 13, 2013

More Than Just A Paycheck

Is there any evidence that play positively affects the workplace?

Companies that are consistently rated the “Best Companies to Work For” by Fortune Magazine offer services and programs aimed to make the workday less stressful and more enjoyable for employees. Services such as high quality childcare, free laundry, on-site life coaching and health care, and afternoon yoga classes help the human connection within a company while reassuring the employees that they are valued. Most companies on this list have consistently seen an increase in productivity and revenue as a result of offering such perks. Another great advantage of allowing such programming is that employees feel more fulfilled because they are satisfying more than just a financial need by working.

One manager at SAS, the number one rated company by Fortune Magazine, says that “people stay at SAS in large part because they are happy, but to dig a little deeper, I would argue that people don’t leave SAS because they feel regarded – seen, attended to and cared for. I have stayed for that reason, and love what I do for that reason.”

Introducing play into the business model is also a meaningful characteristic that earns companies a place on this list. Some playful aspects of the companies on the top list include: monthly parties, rock climbing walls, art classes, Foosball tables, razor scooters for transportation, and scratch-and-sniff office wallpaper!

Ranked at number forty-four, Intuit (makers of TurboTax) encourages workers to take four hours a week of “unstructured time” to play with new ideas and inspire creativity in their own ways. Google, number four on the list, also allows time for employees to pursue independent activities during the workday. This recess-like period provides employees with a time to be creative and to de-stress!

These innovative companies have redefined the workplace in terms of expected employee behaviors and the rigid, strict roles we have previously set for them. Encouraging playfulness strengthens social bonds, workplace satisfaction, and overall well-being in a way that has benefits for an entire company. By investing some time and effort into showing employees they are valued, companies can expect to see a decrease in turnover and absenteeism, and an increase in productivity, efficiency, health, and morale!

The bottom line is: a paycheck is no longer enough to satisfy the needs of working Americans! The workplace has the potential to offer programs, services, and an environment that can help balance our lives. Check out some of the qualities of these companies that make them the best…Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Companies to Work For

February 11, 2013

The Mindfulness of Play

Here’s the scenario: You’re burnt out at the office and there are still three more hours until you can leave, or you’re at home with the kids and your to-do list is growing by the minute. You may be feeling stressed, tired, stuck, or bored. Now picture your coworker (or child) appears with two Nerf guns, hands you one, and runs! The next five minutes are filled with excitement and surprise, and I bet you that after this short break you feel revitalized, happier, and more at peace with your current situation.

As adults, we tend not to play simply for the sake of playing the way children do. Who has time for such behavior? Instead, we have responsibilities like jobs, bills, relationships, family, and keeping up with the Kardashians. It’s not difficult to get trapped in a cycle of obligations and deadlines. But before you come up with more excuses, I’m here to give you some incentives and indisputable reasons why playing as an adult is invaluable to sustaining your health and rejuvenating your life!

The definition of ‘play’ is almost as elusive as the concept itself, as each discipline defines the idea in a slightly different way. Some agreed upon characteristics recognized by experts in the field include: voluntary in nature, separation from ordinary life, freedom from time, diminished consciousness of the self, and overall enjoyment. This is where the confluence between the nature of play and mindfulness is elucidated…awareness of this moment and experiencing the now.

Now take a minute to reflect on a moment of playfulness that you experienced recently and be aware of any feelings that arise. How did the moment feel? Did you smile? Were you stressing about your to-do list or were you open, happy, and joyful?

Playfulness is a powerful tool that grounds you to the present moment! It can also:

  • revitalize your spirit
  • spark creativity and inspiration
  • quiet your mind (even if only for a few moments)
  • connect you with your inner child and create a sense of wonder
  • tune your awareness back to our human nature
  • relieve stress, boredom, and redundancy

The idea behind “don’t think about it, play about it” is that, when faced with a challenge, problem, or obstacle, our subconscious mind will help us solve it when we aren’t focusing directly on the issue. Try spending some time on other things (like learning to juggle, dancing, or visiting a swing set) to help clear your mind and refresh your spirit. You may find that answers present themselves more readily in times of distraction, and you may even surprise yourself!

Be mindful of play and bring awareness to your energy levels before and after playful behaviors or activities. Often overlooked by adults, it can be an important means for finding balance. There’s no reason to ever outgrow the need for play!

January 3, 2013

In Case You Missed It…

I wrote a recent guest blog post for MindBodyGreen! Please check out their site, it’s a wonderful resource for all things wellness =)

December 4, 2012

Workplace Remedy

Or, how to enjoy working! 

Corporations can be characterized as dehumanizing, impersonal, and strict places of regulation and specialization. Most companies focus all their energy on the numbers (profit) and almost none on spirit (employee morale, job satisfaction, etc.)

Unfortunately, this structure separates our work from the potential it has to be meaningful and enjoyable. Our current business model creates an atmosphere of competition, where employees are only valued for their productivity. What office-life (and what our entire perspective of work) needs is a paradigm shift in the way we think about the success of companies and employees. We can create an environment where employees enjoy working! We can create a work environment that fulfills more than just a financial need.

The catalyst behind this shift? PLAY. Play can provide the missing link between productivity and success in the workplace, and finding joy and satisfaction in our work. Dr. Stuart Brown believes that work and play are mutually supportive. He says that “we need the newness of play, its sense of flow, and being in the moment. We need the sense of discovery and liveliness that it provides. We also need the purpose of work, the economic stability it offers, the sense that we are doing service for others, that we are needed and integrated into our world.”

The confluence of work and play can redefine our workplace expectations! 

  • Play helps create social connections and integrates us into an environment in a way that would diffuse the problem of alienation
  • It offers us the opportunity to form new relationships with individuals, reclaim our own sense of joy, and connect with the creative aspects of our jobs in a new way
  • Engaging in play also boosts creativity and innovation, causing an increase in productivity and job satisfaction
  • Employees may also experience a decrease in stress levels after behaving playfully! Decreased stress leads to less illness, which results in lower health care costs… (food for thought)
  • Wait, there’s more! Less absenteeism and a lower turnover rate can also result from a more playful work environment

If you’re feeling stagnant at work, try incorporating some playful behaviors or activities into your day (and be mindful of the effects)! It’s an easy way to revive your energy and balance yourself.

September 24, 2012


Take a minute to reflect on a moment of playfulness you experienced recently and be aware of any feelings that arise. If you’re having trouble coming up with an example, take this moment to do something playful (spin in circles, do a somersault, have a 1-song dance party, etc.). Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself.

How did the moment feel? Did you feel free from your other worries and responsibilities? Did you feel joyful, open, and happy? Did you smile?

Play has a powerful way of connecting you to the present moment, quieting your mind, and tuning your awareness back to our human nature! Bringing mindfulness to play will help you notice how it affects your life, which can be an important tool to finding balance!

Stay tuned for more on the convergence of mindfulness and playfulness, as I am about to have a new guest blog post on the subject =)

(follow me on Twitter @PlayAboutIt for more insight, ideas, and inspiration!)

September 2, 2012

“Life Must be Lived as Play”

Do something today just for the fun of it! Be mindful of how you feel afterwards =)

Swings always put me in a good mood. It’s a quick, easy way to feel refreshed and invigorated!

June 11, 2012

“Discover Your Play: Making Room for Play in YOUR Life”

If you haven’t already, check out my second guest blog post for Playworks! Posted on May 31, 2012.

– – – – –  – – – – – – – – – – – –

I bet you were once a curious young explorer conquering the nearby woods and adventuring to the very top of the playground! As a child, playtime was when you connected with yourself and the world around you, but somewhere along the journey from childhood adventures to adulthood responsibilities we lose the magic of play.

Luckily, we still engage in playful behaviors as adults (even if we don’t realize it)! Most of this playfulness is disguised as sports, hobbies, competitions, etc. Play takes many forms. Some games take physical skill, others intellectual or dramatic. Anyone can find something to enjoy. So, how can you discover your play?

Find Your Brand of Play
Complete this statement: I feel most playful when I ______ (ex: make up a recipe, take dogs hiking, play with children outside, create new things or play pickup games). Notice when your playfulness shines through. Is it when you’re feeling creative, sporty, silly, outdoorsy, or something entirely different?

Make Room in Your Day
The goal is to engage in playful behaviors (like the one mentioned above) more regularly. The good news is that adding play to your day doesn’t have to take up much time! Here are some easy ways to make room:

  • Cut down on extra screen time
  • Make ordinary activities more playful
    • Dance while folding laundry
    • Make up a cooking game
    • Play “I Spy” with someone in line
    • Sing in the shower
    • Bring a small toy to your (or a coworker’s) desk at work
    • Skip, don’t walk, to a meeting (or work — like this guy!)
  • Inspire friends to join you in playful behaviors at lunch, while shopping, etc., such as “Who can make the funniest face with their food?”
  • Play in small increments of 5-15 minutes at a time. For example: take 5 to dance in the morning!

What Play Can Offer You

  • Confidence
  • Energy
  • Excitement
  • Balance
  • Happiness
  • Inspiration
  • Exercise
  • Stress Relief

Play is energizing, refreshing, and a wonderful form of stress relief. It creates the foundation for a happy, balanced life in childhood and adulthood. The key is to recognize the activities you enjoy and try to do them more (it’s pretty simple). Playing doesn’t have to take much time and you can experience many wonderful benefits. There’s no reason you should ever outgrow the need for play!

May 8, 2012

Discover Your Play!

Adding play to your day doesn’t have to take up much time! Check out this little guide to discovering your way to play!

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