We play as children, but then we grow up and what happens? This Sip Session invited us to explore ways to reawaken our inner playful self and give that person a bigger role in life and at work.
And so began the July 2019 Sip Session, which focused on embracing our inner child by freeing our adult egos from concerns of propriety or restraint. Doing so gave those in attendance permission to play hide-and-seek, engage in horseplay, and hold hands. Because what child worries about looking silly when a game of tag is involved? Even when it’s slow-motion amoeba tag?
We play as children, but then we grow up and what happens? We become burdened by adult responsibilities and pursuits of ambition. Too many of us take ourselves too seriously and hide who we really are in favor of looking appropriate or professional. Is it such a radical idea to understand that when we free ourselves to be playful, we also give ourselves permission to access our most creative selves?
Bringing open minds and open heart, thirty or so adults gathered on a lightning-strewn evening at Greenbox Interior Solutions Showroom. Attendees were greeted at the door by the play-mistress herself, Jenny Drescher. Jenny, a founding partner at The Bolder Company, combines fully experiential, improvisation-based learning to inspire positive and lasting behavioral change. But what does that really look like?
Translation? It’s improv time, baby!
“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” ― Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker
Brent Robertson, creator of the Sip Sessions platform, kicked off the night by setting a slightly serious tone before the fierce fun began.
“How much fun are we actually having? When you start to think about it, about how much time we spend at work, what is the cost we’re paying for not having any fun? What’s the toll on all of us – not just from the standpoint of innovation or creativity – but the toll it takes on our humanity when we are built to play? Where’s the fun in life?”
“Whatever the world presents you with is an opportunity to be playful. It’s awesome when you are playing without a net, what could happen.”
Jenny imagined this Sip Session as a safe environment for people to experience full permission to experiment with play. Jenny shared, “Play shouldn’t be a special occasion! Sometimes being absurd helps people to take themselves less seriously. And if you choose to become a playful adult, what do you then have access to? You now have a way of walking through the world and way of being, that connects you with people, with empathy, in a collaborative way.”
“I’m a little bit obsessed with play. It’s a part of how I view the world. One of my superpowers is making the mundane more interesting.” ― Jenny Drescher, Bolder Company Chief Play Officer
Breakout activities throughout the night included creating new, interesting, crazy, off-the-rails ways to greet people using your voice and body; embodying animals via a hide-and-seek-style game where when a participant was found they acted like their chosen animal (a dog, a lion, a monkey), and creating ‘human statue’ tableau (ahem, image) representative of a joyful and playful memory that made each participant feel GREAT.
Each game embodied the practice where everybody wins through non-competitive play. And focused on connection NOT competition. By the end of the evening, the natural outcome of play proved true. People were laughing, smiling, even holding hands, and totally embracing their full selves.
What exactly is the case for play? We all exist in an overly tech-connected world, however, so many of us are far less connected to people, and experience increased isolation as a result. Research has shown that play can relieve stress, boost creativity, improve brain function, and improve our relationships by fostering trust with others.
Play increases oxytocin which soothes and reduces stress and is linked to overall better health. The opposite happens when we act or work in a competitive manner. This activates the amygdala area of our brain – triggering a fight or flight response.
This is exactly why play matters. People, teams and companies are realizing that playing and laughing together creates room for learning. When we laugh, we activate chemicals in our brain that help us to learn. Play activates the prefrontal cortex which lights up the part of the brain that allows for ideation and problem solving. And what company doesn’t want to have happy, engaged employees who are creative problem-solvers?
Jenny left participants with the following thought. “I’m onboard with becoming a playful adult. You can always find somebody who is also on the mission of being a more playful adult with you. And you can help each be more foolish, more playful, more ridiculous and absurd.”
Have a willingness to take back playfulness in your life. Bring a sense of play into all that you do – at work, at home, within your career. Play gives us all a chance to live as our fullest most creative selves. Live fully. Play tag. And have the best experiences with no self-imposed limits.
SipSession Recap written by Jessica Mand
Photography and video by Mike Marques of Arbor Light Studio
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