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Why is playfulness useful?

Updated: Jun 12, 2020



I don’t know about you, but the global pandemic has caused me to reflect on things far more deeply than my busy life usually allows.


One thing that I keep ruminating on, as I stare out of my window is playfulness. When the crisis hit in early March I felt bombarded with creative and play based activities springing up all over the web. Helpful friends forwarding things on and tagging me. It was totally overwhelming. Not only because I was grieving for the old normal and the loss of so many amazing projects, but also as part of all that my creativity and playfulness had deserted me.


It took weeks of being kind to myself to find them again. I think they had an excellent holiday because they came back with a bang. Suddenly I could play and laugh without feeling heavy. I picked up a needle and started beading again. I started making art without an end goal in sight… just for the creative fun process of it.


It was a huge relief. I hadn’t realised how much I was missing my playfulness until it returned.


It makes my day lighter.

It makes the big serious stuff feel more manageable.

I laugh more.

So what is playfulness?

The definition is of being light-hearted or full of fun. A lot of the time adult life tries to bash that out of us. As our lives get busier and our responsibilities get more onerous, it gets so much harder to feel light. How can we switch from a default worry state to that of curiosity?


Ask yourself, do you want to feel more light-hearted and full of fun?


If the answer is no, do get in touch as I’d be fascinated to know why.


If the answer is yes (and I’m making an educated guess that most adults would say yes) it’s not an easy journey. It’s one that coaching can certainly help with, but also one you can achieve yourself.


Here’s the bad news: watching Netflix isn’t playful. Neither is playing Candy Crush or other mind numbing games. And I’m sure there’s no surprise to hear, scrolling through social media doesn’t count either. They might be useful for switching off, for entertainment or to fulfil some other need, but they are most definitely not playful.


Playfulness is alert, active, engaged and curious.


It is about making your heart sing for the sake of it. It doesn’t need to achieve anything other than the process itself. It’s about sketching along whilst watching Grayson Perry’s Art Club, it’s about making and crafting, playing the piano (or in my case, attempting to play the piano, but I still love it), taking a photo or making a video that means something to you, playing a board game with someone else, creating a playlist that gives you joy.


Whilst I know those things will make me happier, calmer, more effective at work and more lovely as a mum, I’m still riddled with excuses as to why I can’t justify spending my time just playing sometimes. However, just now, in this strange, often difficult situation, my justification is stronger and it’s not something I want to lose as we all work out what our new normal will look like.

So how can you cultivate playfulness?


Well here’s some justifications that might make the process easier:


Playfulness is a state of being that is both analytical and creative. It gives you the ability to look at things in new ways by making new connections and spotting possibilities. And the more you do it, the better you get at being able to see from different perspectives and generate ideas. It also puts you in a liminal space between the past and the future. It’s like the uber-present. And you know what happens when you’re in that space… the delicious, life-affirming, resolutely human experience of flow.


More on flow another time, but right now, if you’re feeling even a tiny bit inspired about allowing yourself to be more playful, go make that list. What do you like doing that is playful… what have you always wanted to do that would fit… what can you fit in today?


Because, why not? It will make you think better, act better and help your inspiration flow.


Tell me about it – comment, send me an email or a message on Instagram. I’d love to hear about it!


Right, I’m off to attempt to play the piano.

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© 2021 by Sarah Longfield

Glasgow, Scotland

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