Take time to play!
By Jennifer ‘Taz’ Vazquez
Are you feeling anxious about a new habit or goal you would like to set? Want to feel excited as you step out of your comfort zone and begin creating, doing and/or being what you want? Get curious and ask yourself when was the last time you played?
Have you ever watched kids play? Their imagination, laughter, smiles and openness to trying something new is so magical and infectious! Research shows play is a fundamental way children learn, explore feelings, develop focus and self-discipline. Play creates a safe space encouraging action and overcoming fear, enabling openness to mis-steps, growth and developing confidence.
Unfortunately, adults too often consider play to be self-indulgent or only for kids. We end up stuck in our comfort zones out of fear. To build resilience, confidence, reach new goals, change habits, learn something new and be open to different ideas and opportunities, we need to experience a healthy degree of anxiety/fear—then challenge ourselves by taking action outside our comfort zone. Play can help!
Games are an effective way to learn; simulating adventure and keeping our brains engaged. The most successful games are design-based games that help us create. University of California, Irvine, professor Kurt Squire uses a game-based learning model with his students: Play, Explore, Study, Build.
Play. When you're feeling anxious or fearful, approach it in a playful way. This could involve playing a game, gamifying a task, or simply using your imagination to generate curiosity and creativity.
Explore/Study. Apply the gaming skills (or resulting creatively after any game) to what you want to do. Take some time to develop the knowledge and skills you need. Be curious as you explore, research, ask questions, learn how to do something and/or break things down into smaller parts.
Build. Take action and build something that will help you toward your new habit or goal. This could involve creating a product, starting a blog, or simply developing a new routine. Have fun with the process of tinkering and learning. If it doesn’t work out, tinker, and try again. When something does work out, celebrate it. You’ll want to do more of it.If you want to increase your chances of success, step out of your comfort zone, and ask yourself how you can approach your habit or goal with more play? You’ll feel happier, healthier, less stressed, and be more productive with increased energy. Start flourishing and enjoy the process. Happy playing, y’all!