Play. Do you do it? I know that it can feel like there is never enough time to do the things you love and devote to creative pursuits. Just the fact that it needs to be scheduled in can suck the fun right out of it. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Being playful can hugely influence your creativity and confidence.
My friend and past coach Claire Baker has just launched her very first eCourse into the world: Wild, Well and Creative. I’m all signed up and excited to dive in. Creativity, self-care and play are Claire’s speciality so I thought I’d share with you the cliff notes from an email exchange I had with her whilst she was planning the course.
There's a lot of overlap between all things playful and creative so before I dive into exploring them I’ll begin by making a couple of (fairly hefty) definitions and clear up some misconceptions...
What does it mean to be creative?
You don’t need to be a classic ‘arty' type to be creative. Creativity comes in many forms. Please don’t think that you are ‘uncreative’ simply because you can’t paint like Picasso or play the cello. One way to explore your creative side is pick up some of the creative activities that you did as a kid (painting, drawing, crafts, poetry etc.), but creativity can be brought to everything you do. And, yes, this is something that takes practice!
// To start, rather than trying to find ways of thinking outside the box or even dismantling the box, simply bring passion. I find that when I bring passion and energy to things they naturally evolve into creative solutions and situations without any pushing.
What does it mean to be playful?
Play isn’t a thing or a ‘doing', so much as an attitude. Similar to creativity, it’s an approach that you have to bring to daily life. Sure, you’ve got to set aside time for things that bring you pleasure, but I’m of the opinion that joy and play lives inside us, and that we can call on it at any time and bring it to any situation. When you start introducing more play into your life you wonder how the hell you have been neglecting it for so long! It has become a non-negotiable and the framework for my days.
Playfulness as a mindset is about being curious, open, authentic.
As a perspective, play is very closely linked to creativity. In fact, it demands it if we are to make the most of a shitty circumstance or fully explore the possibilities for play.
How did I make this shift in mindset and what benefits I have noticed in my creative practice as a result of being more playful?
There were a couple of foundational things that I worked on first that allowed this shift in mindset:
- Presence - I want to experience every moment in its fullness and I know that when I bring my best self to every situation I get the best out of the situation, whatever the circumstances. I’m always surprised by how tasks I dread and awkward situations actually have the potential to be incredibly fun with this when I am fully present. Presence will change your life in so many ways.
- Authenticity - I know this gets a lot of airtime but when you’re not worried about how other people perceive you and you are true to yourself it is so much easier to have fun. Yes, that sometimes means that my play is pure silliness. I don’t care - it's joyful.
- Positivity - again, sometimes overplayed, but still, it’s the bed rock to being more playful. I used to hate this word because it can sound quite trite but if you’re prepared to find the good in the situation you’re more likely to see the fun and opportunities for play too.
- Boldness - not being afraid to try new things or fall flat on my face. “Go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit [or the fun!] is” etc. Plus, stretching is good for the soul.
- Treating life like one grand experiment (see above).
And the results of a more playful mindset:
- My confidence has sky-rocketed. Being authentic and giving my all can sometimes be awkward and uncomfotatble but oh-so rewarding. It’s one of those chicken and egg situations: more confidence = easier to be authentic, more authenticity = more confidence. It’s mutually reinforcing.
- I’ve had the courage to try my hand at various creative pursuits, such as writing and recording audios, that up until recently I was holding back on for fear of failure and had no idea that I could enjoy them so much.
- I no longer feel the need to put creative activities or projects on my to-do list. I do them because I enjoy them and it feels natural to play more.
- I take responsibility - my circumstances haven’t changed much but I have. This makes me realise that everything I need was (and still is) already within me. By being playful I have started taking responsibility for your own happiness and health, and my world turned upside down.
- There have been so many happy accidents and synchronicities that I don’t think I would have been open to before. Everything meaningful in my life has happened when I was open to love, opportunities and, of course, play.
- And most importantly, I have so much more fun. Really. SO MUCH MORE.
Of course, I firmly believe in prioritising self-care and activities that you know you enjoy. This is important. But there are always going to be things that need doing that we don’t enjoy or that make us uncomfortable. Seeking out pleasure is essential but it’s the unpleasant moments that define us by how we deal with them. It’s in these grotty moments that you must take charge of changing your perspective and moving yourself out of a funk.
Beware of the slow creep of boredom and monotony. Earlier this year I found myself in the habit of just cooking some variation of the same meals every day and I’d kind of come to hate them. But I’ve still got to feed myself! More recently I’ve been exploring new ideas, recipes and culinary inspirations. I’ve had more disasters than ever, many successes and more fun in the kitchen than I can remember. I still need loving kick up the backside occasionally. It’s so easy to disappear down the rabbit hole of introversion, isolation, boredom, and let’s face it, laziness. Develop strong relationships with people that actively seek out fun and are go-getters that will encourage you to introduce more play into your life simply by being around them.
So lovely, are you curious to explore your creative side and express yourself? If so, Wild, Well and Creative was made for you. The course covers so much more than just creativity and play so expect insights on self-doubt, fear, frustration, self-care, creating space, time management, finding your flow and creative cycles, money, sexuality, community and commitment. Yep, it’s set to be a corker.
Enrolments are currently open until 15th August 2015. Claire will be kicking off round one on the 17th August. Excitement is at an all-time high. Come take a peek at the (exceedingly pretty) sales page.
Tell me,how do you incorporate play and creativity into your days? Hit me up in the comments.
P.P.S. In case you’re wondering: I'm not affiliated with this course, just sharing with love.
(All images via Claire).