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The Power of PLAY !


In a world driven by deadlines, productivity, and efficiency, the notion of PLAY can seem frivolous or even counterproductive. However, delve deeper into the realms of psychology, neuroscience, and the creative arts, and you'll find a resounding consensus: PLAY is a vital ingredient for unlocking creativity in our children.


Renowned psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi once said, "Of all human activities, creativity comes closest to providing the fulfillment we all hope to get in our lives." Yet, the path to creativity is often obscured by the pressures and routines of school and everyday life. This is where PLAY emerges as a guiding light, offering a gateway to uninhibited exploration and innovation.


One of the most prominent advocates for the importance of PLAY in creativity is Sir Ken Robinson. He famously argued that creativity is as important as literacy and should be given the same status in education. But what exactly is it about PLAY that fuels our creative fires?


To understand this better, let's turn to the insights of psychologist Alison Gopnik, who draws parallels between the curious, playful nature of children and the creative processes of adults. In her book "The Gardener and the Carpenter," Gopnik highlights how children's PLAY is inherently exploratory, imaginative, and unconstrained by preconceived notions. Similarly, adults who embrace a playful mindset can tap into this reservoir of creativity.


In his influential speech on creativity, comedian John Cleese delves into the concept of the "open" and "closed" modes of thinking. The closed mode, characterized by seriousness and focus, is essential for executing tasks and meeting deadlines. However, it's the open mode—where the mind is relaxed, playful, and free from constraints—that fosters true creativity. Cleese suggests that creating a conducive environment for PLAY is crucial for accessing this open mode and unlocking innovative solutions.


But it's not just about whimsical games and leisurely pursuits. PLAY can take many forms, from engaging in hobbies and creative outlets to adopting a playful approach to problem-solving. Psychologist Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, emphasizes that PLAY is not just a luxury; it's a biological necessity that fuels adaptability, resilience, and emotional well-being.


Moreover, neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp's research on the brains of mammals reveals the profound impact of PLAY on neural development. PLAY stimulates the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which are associated with pleasure and reward, as well as oxytocin, which promotes social bonding. These neurological processes not only enhance learning and memory but also foster collaboration and innovation in group settings.


In essence, PLAY is the antidote to rigidity, the catalyst for innovation, and the cornerstone of creativity. As we navigate the complexities of modern life, let's heed the wisdom of psychologist Ellen J. Langer, who reminds us, "The essence of playfulness is an openness to anything that may happen, the feeling that whatever happens, it's okay... you're either free to play or you're not."


So, let's reclaim our innate capacity for PLAY, embrace the spirit of exploration, and unleash the boundless creativity that resides within each of us. After all, in the words of author and illustrator J.R.R. Tolkien, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." Why not spend some of that time in joyful, creative PLAY ?

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