Tag Archives: Play

Serious play & Happy gin-tonics

Last Saturday, I found myself back with a gin-tonic in my hand, dancing to Pharrell’s Happy in the middle of Place Flagey. It was 14.30 in the afternoon, and almost got hit by the vehicles cleaning up the square after the market. Why did that happen?

And as a second question, why did I title this post Serious Play?

I’ve already written before about Happy – the global of hymn of happiness, as I see it – and the many local versions that people all around the globe have made. And after seeing one of not-too-impressive versions from Brussels, a friend of mine decided to recruit some people as well.

Honestly, the result is not amazing. As our videographer backed out, it was shot with a shaky iPhone. All shots were fully spontaneous, without script or storyboard. Though the gin-tonics did stimulate us to move, I’d argue the footage is not suitable for the Internet. (Even in the age of selfies and excessive social media use, real life is enough. Experiences still matter if nobody has given a like for it).

So why am I still writing about this? Well, I think the example serves as an illustration of the importance of play as a force for creativity and joyfulness.

Playfulness stimulates creativity
Being playful is good for our creativity. Children generally are better at this than adults. Men never seize to be children and often are more playful than women. Play is great, because it helps us use our imagination. And those skills are useful to solve problems, as tinkering and experimenting come with play. Unfortunately, this is a skill we tend to lose as we grow up, by saying play is just for children.

As Stuart Brown says, play is a must for creative and problem-solving jobs like designers and engineers (The famous TED talk by Ken Robinson on how schools kill creativity is also nice to watch in this context).

Playfulness stimulates joyfulness
Play is fun. Once you stop being embarrassed about dancing on a square, you enter the realm of happiness. Once we decided to be ridiculous, I saw my fellow dancers smiling all the time (it’s not without a reason that ridiculous means ‘to be made fun of’).

And it’s even more than just being joyful in the here and now. It’s proven that play is important for mental health! Psychologists believe (also referenced by Brown) that there some murder cases are associated with ‘play deprivation’. That is, the repression of play by parents can result in depressions or even criminal behaviour.

So to those who say that one who dances in the square is not sane, I will say that insanity must be preferred over repression.

Play on!