Never to old to play, seriously!

 

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These East Timorese orphans having fun with some adult Australian visitors.

 

There is the old saying , “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. I’m sure the same applies to all the  Jills out there and anyone who believes fun and play is only for children should have another think. In this fast-paced world of social engagement and think tanks only a few key strokes or finger taps away, maybe it’s time to review our approach to more productive work spaces by adding a bit of fun in the mix.

Push back the office chair and turn off the computer, for some down time and a good ol’ fashion belly laugh. Type laughter workshops into your search engine and there is a surprisingly a large number to choose from. The main focus seems to be to help workers de-stress and in the process create a more productive workplace. It also encourages more positive brainstorming and ideas generation.  For some of us letting our inner child loose is outside our comfort zone.

In my experience some of the activities organised in certain workplaces reflects the age group of the team leader in some cases. Call centre employment involves being tied to a phone in one place for a shift and can be repetitious. To break the monotony activities would range from hula dancing competitions, trying to catch money in a wind machine or just going to “Maccas”  for team meetings. As much as I appreciated the break from the usual drill, I’m not sure it increased my productivity or brainstorming capacity.

Other industries are busy with everyday business and little thought is given to creating some play element into a working day. That is not to say,  employees’ well being is not highly regarded by businesses and other organisations; many organise some form of social or physical activities for staff and volunteers.

What we are talking about here, is introducing some playfulness into the work environment that engages individuals and triggers creativity in a fun and useful way. Let’s face it many of us are like big kids when we get to play with something new or innovative. There must be a reason why tools such as computers, smart phones and televisions designed to help us do our work or educate us, become playthings as well!

But the importance of play in our childhood and the role it plays in our adult lives should not be under estimated. Lack of fun and games as a youngster robs one of the ability to dream of big things in the future. Some Brits bringing joy into the life of children in a refugee camp are featured in a BBC Three video, Amazing Humans: Making children smile again through the simple act of creative play using music, art, dance and more.

 

Play researcher and psychiatrist, Dr Stuart Brown, with the National Institute of Play in the US,  is a strong advocate of the benefits of play in childhood and how that makes us much happier and smarter adults. He believes if we maintain this sense of playfulness into our adult years, it will keep us smarter at any age. Reflecting on this topic makes me realise that we all need a sense of joy in our personal and working lives, but we need to learn how as a child.

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. – Plato

 

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