7 Ways to Play More to Increase Your Creativity

People playing

“It got to be important since The New York Times Magazine had this topic as their cover story” says Dr. Stuart Brown, a pioneer in research on play. He believes that we have lost an important thing from our culture – to play, both as children and adults.

But why is playing important for adults? Because nothing lights up the brain like playing, it e.g. can make us smarter and is very important for creative thinking.

“The truly great advances of this generation will be made by those who can make outrageous connections, and only a mind which knows how to play can do that.”

-Nagle Jackson

Play has been divided into seven categories:

  • Attunement play is the grounding base of the state-of-play and happens when an infant makes eye contact with her/his mother and both experience a spontaneous joy.
  • Body play and movement is a type of play where you use your body to play, e.g. jumping in bed and chasing others while laughing. What is great about play is that it does not have a particular purpose, when you are having a bad day you can brighten your mood simply by jumping and wiggling around.
  • Object play is another type of play, this can be for example rolling up a snowball and letting it roll down a hill or playing with toys, banging pots and pans and so forth. When we play with our hands we activate a part of our brain and it helps us come up with solutions to problems.
  • Social play is about playing with others, for example playing cards, playing badminton and wrestling.
  • Imaginative and pretend play is about pretended play, for example playing a princess or a pirate and this type of play is a key to creativity and innovation.
  • Storytelling-narrative play is a type of play that helps us with understanding ourselves and others better through stories of any kind. It can be a story about how things were when you were younger or a made up fairy tale.
  • Creative play is about playing with imagination to create a higher state for something, for example a person might find a new way to use a musical instrument.

In the TED talk below, Dr. Stuart Brown encourages you to explore backwards as far as you can go to find the most clear, joyful, playful image of you, whether it is of you with a toy, on a birthday or on a vacation. When you have recalled this, begin to build from the emotion of that into how that connects with your life now. He says that you might find that you want to change jobs or you may be able to feel more enriched in life by paying attention to it.

Don’t just play occasionally, instead make your whole life full of different types of play, tell stories, jump around, pretend you are someone else and use the creative ability that we all have.

(Video link)


About Birna Birgisdóttir

Birna Birgisdóttir is a Ph.D candidate, researching creativity and servant leadership. She enjoys learning new things and has a M.Sc. in International Business, B.Sc. in Business Administration, diploma in Human Resource Management and she is an Executive Coach as well as NLP Practitioner.

Birna loves new adventures; has travelled the world, scuba dived in Mexico, skydived in Las Vegas, surfed in Australia, meditated in India and climbed the highest peak in Iceland.


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