Spark the Conversation

Adults Need to Play. Jump In!

February 5, 2018
Posted By: Kathryn Blair

Why Adults Need to Play 

I'm the public programmer here at TELUS Spark who mostly works on putting together our Adults Only Night events. One of the things I think about and sometimes people ask me is why we do Adults Only Night. Part of it is to reach out to an audience (Adults) who might not normally come to TELUS Spark. In working on Adults Only Night, there's really been one key thing that makes it important to me - we do it because adults need to play and Adults Only Night can be a welcoming place to do that. But that's a pretty strong statement - why is it so important for us stodgy adults with our day jobs and routines to play?

There are the intuitive reasons - play is a way we can relax and relieve stress, and we have a lot of stress in our adult lives with our responsibilities. The importance of stress management, and the importance of play as a tool to accomplish that, is a great reason to play, but there are also other things play gives adults that, I think, are key. And that's creativity, and the ability to look at problems in new ways.

Playful behaviours are the way we learn as kids. We try things out, and maybe they don't work. We have some fun with ideas and take them in new directions. When we're adults, we desperately need to keep those skills up, especially those of us who are fortunate enough to work in jobs where our main asset is how we approach problems. Play can allow us to think laterally, come up with new ideas, be open to new possibilities, and go off in directions that come out of the blue but might have really great solutions at the bottom of that rabbit hole. Play, as kids, is also a "safe" way to experiment - the process is the goal, not a specific outcome, and we need to be able to take some risks with new ideas and solutions that won't work to be able to get to solutions that do when we tackle problems as adults.

So that's why play is important. How can you incorporate play into your daily and work life? I (obviously) think you should come to Adults Only Night once in awhile, but there are more ways you can incorporate play and playful attitudes into your days.

How to be more playful

  • Add a little bit of silliness to your workplace. This can range from bringing candy to boring meetings, to giving everyone a moustache or party hat to wear, to using an improv game to kick off a meeting or event, to having weekly midday dance parties.

  • Try something that makes you look a little silly in public. One of the things about playfulness is that it goes hand in hand with being OK with looking somewhat silly, which can be a really hard hurdle to overcome (not that I have overcome it). So dare yourself to a do a small thing you feel silly doing, whether it's singing with your kid in line to the grocery store, rocking out unabashedly in traffic, or doing karaoke to "Shake it Off".

  • Say "Yes, Let's" to the next fun, random suggestion you get, the next time you are called on in a comedy show, or the next time an idea for an adventure pops into your head. And take a buddy.

  • Try something random. The Space Deck was developed by Museum Camp, an initiative of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, and it's a set of cards (that you can order or use online) that give you strategies to make space in your life. Some are more focussed on reflection and calmness, and some are focussed on silliness, fun and letting go. Try out a random one by checking out: http://thespacedeck.com/random

So whether it's at Adults Only Night, letting go a bit the next time you have a particularly wacky idea, or playing make believe with your kid (or a kid you know), make some opportunities in your life for play. It'll help you relax, build your relationships, and make you a more effective problem solver. Serious business.