Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Vaughn’

The Importance of Play in a Down Economy

By Joyce C. Mills, Ph.D.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

~ Plato.

We can hardly open our computers, read a newspaper, or watch the news without hearing about the “down economy.” We work harder, attend more meetings, seminars, and workshops that are supposed to give us the keys for turning our businesses around, and read as many inspirational books as possible, but somehow that magical “law of attraction,” isn’t creating the magnetic success we hope for.

As a Play Therapist and Creative Coach for over thirty years, one ingredient I see missing in these meetings and workshops is the profound importance of play…to experience life with a playful mind.  Without it we only think in concrete terms.  We all know that concrete is fixed not fluid – and we need flow in order for new ideas to develop. 

In a groundbreaking book, “PLAY: How it shapes the brain, Opens the imagination, and Invigorates the soul,” Dr. Stuart Brown with Christopher Vaughn, writes “For us, play lies at the core of creativity and innovation.” They go on to write “If we don’t take time to play, we face a joyless life of rigidity, lacking in creativity. The opposite of play isn’t work, but depression. If we’re going to adapt to changing economic and personal circumstances the way that nature armed us to do, then we have to find ourselves having some play time virtually every day.”

Related to this statement, Dr. Brown continues to share, citing a clear example when Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) built robotic probes to explore solar systems when they noticed they were having a hard time replacing the retiring engineers and scientists who had put men on the moon The company thought it was hiring graduates from the top schools such as MIT, Stanford, and even Cal Tech, but found something else was missing. These young grads simply could not problem solve like the elder engineers who came before them. What was the missing ingredient? You guessed it…play. The older engineers grew up taking things apart, seeing how they worked, making soapbox racers, and playing with their hands. Following this revelation, JPL included questions related to youthful play as a standard part of its job interviews.

Looking to other areas of business, we clearly see the indisputable success of Google.  It has whole floors with games and play stations, and other forms of fun, socialization, and relaxation. Why? If time is money, why would a company invest so much space and finances in providing employees with “fun stations?” The answer is simple…it makes you feel good!  In a nutshell, when we feel good, we are more productive, resourceful, creative, inventive, happier, and less stressed. 

Play Stations

Play Stations 


I carry this same belief throughout my personal life and business. If you look at the photos of my office on my website www.drjoycemills.com or click on the link taking you to StoryPlay®  – you’ll see fun stations everywhere. 

Play creates a joyful environment in which compassion, collaboration, and innovation can flourish.  While play is not the only element we need to turn things around, my belief is when we can all “play together,”  and when we open that playful nature within ourselves, we will find the innovative solutions needed for transforming down to up.

So, here’s my prescription for putting Play into your personal and professional life:

  1. Be silly – blow bubbles every day. Go out and buy bottles of bubbles and give yourself a few minutes of bubble blowing time each day. If you have employees, surprise them with a bottle of bubbles on their desk.
  2. Be creative – keep a small container of colorful Play-Doh® nearby and create a shape with it. Maybe by playing with Play-Doh, we’ll find ideas to create more “play dough.”
  3. Be artistic – when you are looking for solutions to a problem.  Use crayons, markers, and blank paper to draw, scribble, or doodle shapes, designs or images.
  4. Be balanced by taking a break.  Take time each day to play catch with your kids, friends, or employees.
  5. Be inspired where you have coffee or take lunch breaks.  Create “fun stations” with games, music, and art materials for employees to use.
  6. Be imaginative and inspired by telling stories. Problems and resolutions take on a different energy when they become part of a story. 

Articles jam packed with information to explore about the Play and the Workplace can be found by going to Linda Naiman’s creative blog:


Joy and the Dragon

Joy and the Dragon

I invite you to share your play ideas. How do you play? As Plato so wisely instructs… “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” How would you have people recognize your “play factor?”



You are invited to bring more Creativity into your life and business at “Creative Leaps.”

Joyce C. Mills  

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