How to Qualify Play: Dr. Brene Brown
Updated: Jun 4
Our busy, fast-paced lives often leave us with little time to engage in playful activities, often disregarding them as frivolous or unproductive. However, Dr. Brene Brown, a renowned research professor, TEDx speaker, and best-selling author, emphasizes the importance of integrating play into our lives to foster creativity, connection, and overall well-being.
As we mentioned in our Welcome post, Dr. Brene Brown is a brilliant research professor and is known for her extensive research in vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy. Dr. Brown’s research has also led her on a journey about the significance of play, how to qualify to play in our lives, and practical steps to incorporate play into our daily routines.
Understanding Play According to Dr. Brene Brown requires some prerequisites.
In her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection,” she sheds light on the importance of play as an essential component of wholehearted living. According to Brown, play is defined as time spent without purpose, allowing ourselves to engage in activities that bring us joy and foster our creativity (Brown, 2010).
She elaborates that play is crucial to maintain healthy relationships, managing stress, and cultivating innovation. When we permit ourselves to play, we create a safe space for vulnerability, allowing us to connect with others and express our authentic selves (Brown, 2010).
To qualify play in our lives, Dr. Brown suggests that we should consider the following aspects:
No purpose: Play should not have a specific goal or outcome. It is an activity we engage in purely for the sake of enjoyment and pleasure.
Voluntary: Play should be a choice, not an obligation. We should feel drawn to it and motivated by the joy it brings.
Inherent attraction: Play is something we find genuinely engaging and enjoyable. It may vary from person to person, as we are naturally drawn to different activities.
Freedom from time: When we are fully immersed in play, we often lose track of time, allowing us to escape from the pressures and constraints of our daily lives.
Diminished consciousness of self: During play, we often become less self-conscious and more focused on the activity itself, allowing us to express ourselves more authentically.
Improvisational potential: Play often involves spontaneity, creativity, and the ability to adapt to new circumstances, which can help us develop problem-solving skills and resilience.
Now that we understand the importance of play and how to qualify it, here are some practical steps to bring more play into our everyday routines:
Identify activities that bring you joy: Reflect on what activities genuinely make you happy and bring out your playful side. It could be painting, dancing, hiking, playing a musical instrument, or simply spending time with loved ones.
Schedule playtime: Like any other essential aspect of our lives, play must be prioritized. Set aside time in your daily or weekly schedule for play and make it non-negotiable.
Embrace spontaneity: Allow yourself to be spontaneous and engage in activities that bring you joy whenever the opportunity arises.
Create a play-friendly environment: Cultivate a space that encourages playfulness, whether it’s at home or in the workplace. Surround yourself with people who embrace play and support your pursuit of it.
Be kind to yourself: Remember that play is a process, not an outcome. Embrace imperfections and celebrate the joy that comes from engaging in playful activities without the pressure to achieve specific results.
Brown, Brene. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Hazelden Publishing, 2010.