DAYP 14: Use Play to Enhance Your Life, Creativity & Productivity

Don’t lose your childlike sense of play! Play is not only fun, it can improve your creativity, productivity, and life. Especially as we get older, we should set aside more time for “play”.

The playful mindset … It’s really about allowing yourself to expand a number of outcomes you are willing to entertain and think about how you relate to those different outcomes.

– Andrew Huberman

As adults, we can use the power of play as a creative and productivity tool. Play allows us to change our nervous system so we can perform activities better. Neuroscientist, Andrew Huberman, discusses the brain mechanisms of play and how you can use this to enhance your life. Below is a list of activities and mindsets where play can be utilized to enhance your productivity, creativity and enjoyment of life.

Activate the playful mindset

  • The playful mindset means “allowing yourself to expand the number of outcomes you are willing to entertain”
  • When in appropriate settings, think about allowing yourself to be in an open phase of discovery. This is how you learn about other people in a group setting and about oneself. This will open up your prefrontal cortex and allows your brain to become more plastic (neuroplasticity). Richard Feynman was a famous theoretical physicist Nobel prize winner. He was also famous for his pranks, jokes and playful nature.

Become a tinkerer

  • Tinkering may break performance plateaus in some activity you are engaged in. Great cooks, musicians and many Nasa engineers, when looking back at their childhood, would often play and tinker with things in a way that wasn’t about rigidly following a recipe or instruction manual. Many corporations look for these unique character traits when hiring. 
  • Develop an attitude of “Let’s just see what happens if we do this…”

Play with low stakes

  • “Playing” is usually related to games and activities that are considered low stakes. This is usually the “for fun” casual board or card game where you’re not stressed over losing a large bet. A pickup basketball game of or dancing lessons, not a “Super Bowl” type event where the stakes are high.

Play physically and mentally

  • Physically: Novel movements are key. If you’re running, try running at different speeds or lateral movements that you aren’t used to. Trying new sports is a also great way to activate your brain’s play mode.
  • Mentally: Chess is an example of a non athletic type of play. It involves you assuming different roles in the chess piece. Exploring life in a different sense and picking activities where you adopt different roles can be a great form of mental play.

Engage in 1 hour of pure play per week

  • This is Huberman’s goal. This hour should be free form, repetitive, and something where you are not worried about getting “good” at. This can open up your neural circuits and spark creativity.

References, sources and more:

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