Have you ever had a weird colleague who had toys on their work desk?
Well, I was that weird colleague. The image above is my desk organizer, 5 years ago, made with lego.
I love working in the creative field, because work is play. You can’t create unless your mind is playful—eager to explore and experiment.
Creative work involves crafting stories, playing with words and images, working with colours, tones, and textures.
I like having Lego on my table to tinker with while thinking. I throw a tennis ball at the wall repeatedly while mulling over ideas. I have a game console with 600 classic games from the 90s.
Play is a given.
But there are times in which I forget to play. When things get serious. Like when deadlines are way too deadly to be having fun. Or when there is bad news everywhere.
But we can’t forget to play. Especially at a time like this.
Playing allows us to let go of old mindsets or forget stressful people for a moment. Play invites us to see things differently, to respond to challenges in a healthy way. To find joy in solving problems and real-world puzzles. To get through difficulty in a meaningful way.
Play and getting through difficult times
Sam Stones is a project by IBM inventor John Cohn. When his 14-year old son Sam died in an accident in 2006, John and his family started the project in memory of Sam. They organized community gatherings in which they made stones by hand — fired clay rocks — with Sam’s name and the website address on them. The stones were given out and passed on as a memory of Sam and his joyous spirit, as well as a symbol of healing. A map on the website shows where the stones are, and the Sam Stones community is alive to this day.
“The harder it gets, the harder you have to play,” John said, while sharing the story on Tedx. Playing in the context of community and creativity helped him get through the loss of his son.
“The harder it gets, the harder you have to play.”
The Importance of Play at a Time Like This
As things get serious, don’t forget to play.
Play reduces anxiety and creates openness. The world is in a stage of accepting that this new world we woke up to is going to be the reality for a long time.
It’s a good time to re-learn how to play. Play is not a waste of time — it triggers creativity. Play ushers in a mindset of exploration and imagination.
Engaging in play with others builds a friendly relationship and allows meaningful shared time.
And that’s something we need today.
Play is a way not just to get through change but to accept it and build something new from it. Rebuild a life, re-create a business. Re-think your life.
This time in history is our Great Reset: a time to look at the world with new eyes, without many of the old rules, preconceived notions, and constraints.
See what is changing in the world, and allow yourself to adapt. Or build something new.
Get unstuck, explore, and find a new way forward.