Updated: Nov 16
Welcome to the beginning of the first ever Play Your Way Challenge! I am so excited to have you along for this fun-filled adventure into understanding your unique play personality, and making a daily habit of playing in the way best suited to YOU for the next 30 days. Let's start with some basics!
What is a Play Signature?
A play signature is what we call your unique combination of play personalities. There are 9* predominant play personalities that are like archetypes to describe the ways in which you MOST enjoy playing. Depending on your unique makeup, you may want (or not want) to play in certain ways. Understanding your signature is what enables you to start discovering NEW ways to play, in 15 minutes or less every day. End goal here is for everyone to be having more fun, and finding new ways to relax. I treat this like my daily "play exercise" that allows me to access deeper ways of letting go of stress and managing my anxiety. Plus, who doesn't like an excuse to have a little more fun?
*8 play personalities originated with the work of Dr. Stuart Brown in his book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. The 9th is my own addition to his body of work, defended in a masters thesis at Lesley University in 2014 on the topic of interactive play-based spaces for adults in urban settings.
Why should we care about play as adults?
Play is an essential building block for our brains. When we are in active states of play, we are forming new neural networks and developing the foundations of empathy, trust, understanding, boundaries, and likes / do not likes at a personal level (as we relate to ourself) and at a collective level (as we relate to others). Play helps us to access spaces for mental and emotional ease, away from everyday responsibilities and stresses of our fast paced lives. Incorporating play into our daily routines can help to balance our behaviors and choices, strengthen vital brain areas, and improve our ability to self regulate and make decisions in the face of stress and frustration. Consciously playing allows us to develop an expansive and flexible outlook that can be brought to all aspects of experience, and helps us to deepen our relationship with ourselves and with others.
Playing vs. "Just Doing Things"
So how do we distinguish between "actually playing" and "just doing things?" I'm glad you asked.
Playing is done with Free Will.
Who has ever really felt like they were playing if you are forced into something you don't want to be doing? This is your first sign post. Check in with yourself - does the activity in mind feel like something you want to do?
There can be a fine line between not wanting to do something, and feeling intimidated by something. For the purpose of starting this adventure, it is OK to stay in your comfort zone!! Don't feel the need to jump in to new activities right away. More likely than not, as you start to play more frequently and figure out what helps you most enjoy your time, you will start to add different and varying activities to your plate.
Playing creates a feeling of total Freedom
Doesn't it feel great when you are able to get to that mental place where all your worries and frustrations just fall away? I'm talking about feelings of limitless potential- nothing holding you back- running directly towards the thing(s) that absolutely make your heart sing with joy and disbelief and wonder.
You know those feelings? Those are some feelings that indicate that you have really hit on a gold nugget of play. And MAN ARE THEY HARD TO COME BY SOMETIMES
Playing gets us to a Flow State
Similar to the gold nugget of total freedom, flow states are another indicator of authentic play. Being in a flow state is feeling like you have lost all sense of time and self because you were just so IN the thing you were doing. Like hours have passed and it only feels like a few minutes. Or you might be flowing in movement with intuitive ease without a care in the world. It shows up a bit differently for everyone, and can feel like accessing a meditative state while doing an activity.
Playing is FUN
"Am I having fun?" is a key question for us over the course of the month. Sometimes this can feel hard to answer - and that's ok. This process is all about discovery! Feelings of fun can be fleeting, but we are going to reframe and use those feelings as directional tools for finding deeper pockets of play (and fun) for ourselves. If something doesn't feel fun, move on and try something else! Release yourself of any pressure and go in with the intention of "just having some fun - for fun's sake."
Get to the Personalities Already!
I'm gettin' you geared up my friend! This month requires some tools to navigate the way we play. I'm talking about MINDFULNESS. Before you encounter the personalities, I want you to ask yourself:
ALRIGHT.... ready... set.... GO!
Your challenge begins with watching my Instagram Story (or head to my stories highlight!) about the 9 personalities. You will find 9 different slides that explain each of the personalities. From there, take note of any that jump out at you and remember your #mindfulness questions.
Your Play Signature is developed by uncovering which play personalities are primary, secondary, and tertiary. Alternatively, you might identify only 1-3 that you feel connected to. Whatever you uncover today is just the beginning. It has taken me multiple years to understand that I contain all 9 personalities, and how and when I can satisfy each through various activities. I feel I am at my best when all 9 aspects of play are acknowledged and provided for as they come up.
Day 1 Challenge: Check out the Play Personalities Day 1 Prompt in the next blog post, or in story highlights on IG (@eastonsmith). After you have read them, choose one play personality that you feel sure is part of your signature. You will focus on this type of playing for the next week of challenges! Dream up one way that you can play with this personality for 5 minutes today, based on what you are already comfortable with.
See you tomorrow for some ( way more playful - now that our basics are covered) ways for you to play!