May Happiness Hotline

Joyous May,

For the past 10 days I’ve been in the USA attending the annual conference of the Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humour (AATH) and catching up with some wonderful US based friends.  The theme of this year’s conference was PLAY and in true AATH style the workshops and breakout sessions covered both the theory and the practical and was the practical at this conference fun!

On the first day one of the speakers asked ‘When was the last time you played?’ Rather than being answered the question raised another question; How do you define play?  For many people the definition was something along the lines of  ‘to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose’ but for me and a few others in the room that definition didn’t seem right.  I run workshops in businesses and schools.  I use play to reduce stress, build resilience, increase productivity and improve outcomes so for me play does have a serious and very practical purpose. 

To me the definition of play has 5 elements:

Play is self chosen.  We all approach things differently.  What I find fun you may not.  But… if you find fun in something I find difficult I’ll more than likely ask you to show me what I’m missing.  If I have the choice then I will always choose an attitude of play!

Play is an activity in which the means or the journey are just as important as the outcome.   Outcomes are important.  I love the anonymous quote ‘If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there?’,  but to me being actively engaged in the process, in the journey, is vital.  If you’ve been to one of my workshops you’ll have discovered the importance of TA DA moments.  To me the play is definitely in the journey as well as the destination.

Play has structure, or rules, which are not dictated by physical necessity but emanate from the minds of the players.  How you find the play in what you are doing is up to you.

Play is imaginative, non-literal, mentally removed in some way from “real” or “serious” life.  We don’t always get to do the fun stuff, some days seemed filled with the mundane, the difficult and even the seemingly impossible.  For me it’s about steering my journey through the realms of play filled imagination while still focusing on the expected or anticipated outcome. 

Play involves an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind.  We all have to do some tasks that we find stressful.  If we can find the play we can arrive at our destination less stressed and with greater resilience.

As I listened to one of the speakers at the AATH conference my mind wandered back to my primary school days and my wonderful teacher Mrs Schumacher.  Mrs Schumacher’s favourite movie was Mary Poppins, and while I was too young to understand it at the time I clearly remember her telling us that the movie was so much more than entertainment, it was a philosophy for life, that if we take the time to find the fun the job really will already be half done. I happily fully credit Mrs Schumacher for my understanding of the importance of choosing to play, for my discovery of the enjoyment of the journey regardless of the difficulty of the task, for the skills I needed so I could make up my own rules, for my ability to imagine the wonderful when the reality is less so and for helping me to develop the skills to approach everything with as little stress and as much resilience as possible.

Perhaps over the next few weeks you might like to give some thought as to how you can find the play in your everyday and you might like to play more.  Plus, if you’d like to discuss a few ideas, or perhaps bring a little play into your school, workplace or community you might like to get in touch.  I’d be happy to discuss a few ideas with you or bring a little play into your quadrangle (that's what we called our play space at school, the quadrangle, I don't think we use that word enough!)

Have a brilliant rest of your May, as my friend Adam always says, may your reality be a good one, and keep smiling.

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Tailoring inspirational workshops and presentations that increase passion, purpose and profit by building health, well-being, resilience and team cohesion through laughter, humour, Laughter Yoga and Power Break Meditation.

 

 

 

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