Rediscovering the Joy of Play to Boost Creativity and Well-Being at Work

This is potentially one of the most disruptive questions you could ask at work:

Do you like to play?

As adults at work, so many individuals seem constantly to be at odds with their work. Burnout, mental health and a generalised lack of energy are telltale signs of a poor — if not toxic — work environment. Most of the time, the company culture is to blame. But, it’s just possible that the majority of those who are ‘suffering’ at work have brought it upon themselves by running the child out of themselves. What does that mean? It means that they have lost touch with their deeper, natural selves. They’ve left behind the innocence of curiosity. They’ve forgotten their desire to play, much less their sense of humour. As Caleb Storkey and I outlined in our book, Futureproof, there are five different ways or pillars to achieve meaningfulness at work. One of them is PRIZE, by which we meant activities like to play, having fun, the pleasure of being recognized, rewarded, and promoted.

Play is a vital ingredient, even for the adult. Dr Jordan Peterson said in a recent speech entitled, “Meaning, Depression, & the Weight of the World:

“If you’re a businessperson, a good one, you pretty much only want to enter into business arrangements with people who can play fundamentally, because otherwise you have to connive or use force or, you know, get paranoid about whether or not they’re holding up their end of the bargain.”

I think there is much to be said about keeping the desire to play. But, the trick is that it has to be voluntary. You can’t enforce play. This is true of the way you choose your partner… in work or of life. When you play, not only do you create different connections in the brain, you offer a more uncloaked version of yourself.

Do an auto-check as to whether you have become too serious. When and where do you allow play to enter into your life? And then consider how play can be a part of your work, too.

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