Success through play

 What The Most Successful People Do That Most Other People Think is a Waste of Time?

How to be Successful Without Becoming an Automation.

You might think in order to be really successful you have to be a go-getter, be really hard-nosed and have a ruthless streak that will stop at nothing.

Yes, many successful people are like that and many of them have absolutely miserable lives. That is not success in my book and probably not in yours either.

What the Most Successful People Do

But there is one simple thing that some of the most successful, innovative and brilliant people have in common that makes them stand out from the crowd. And it has nothing to do with brains or special gifts.

In fact it is a simple quality that you and I potentially have in bucket loads, except we probably don’t think it’s that important.

In fact we have been trained from an early age that this is something we should leave behind in childhood and concentrate on the serious things of life like working hard, getting good grades and acquiring special knowledge.

It is a thing to that if we made part of our normal lives would make our lives flow much easier, make us much more adaptable to the challenges that come our way, would make us a lot of fun for people to have around and would blow our stress levels out of the water. It would also make us happier, healthier and more fulfilled.

It is very simply the ability to play.

success through playAnd it is the thing that most people stop doing when their lives start to get difficult. It is also the thing that most people start doing when their lives start getting easier again.

Do you think there’s any connection?

Success Through Play: The More We Play in Life, The Happier We are

Because the truth of it is, that the more we play in life the happier and more fulfilled we are.
Look at Richard Branson, a man who created the Virgin brand and truly knows how to play and how to inspire all those who come into contact with him. And there are many others like him.

success through play
Richard Branson – a man for whom play is BIG business

These people have carved out a way of living their lives and making their businesses work that not only makes them very successful but also enables them to offer something very valuable and exciting to everyone that comes into contact with them. The “feel good factor” that makes us want to buy their products and choose them above their competition irrespective of price.

So when did you last play? When did you last really laugh? Have you been in the grip of seriousness, busyness, rushing around like madmen, and worst of all – worrying?

If so you might want to take a large breath and let all those things go…. and play.

How Can I Play, I’m Sitting on a Computer

There are many situation when you would think it is impossible to play. However just try playing with your breath. See how you might do that.

Or let your eyes play?

Let you fingers play?

Do you notice how you begin to feel? Are you feeling some of those feel good feelings? A fluttering in your solar plexus? Has your mood begun to lift.

If not maybe you have lost touch with your capacity to play. Something that happens to many people.

“I Can’t Play!”

Many people say to me. “I can’t play. I just freeze and feel exposed and really, really uncomfortable.” And so it’s not surprising that they they don’t want to put themselves through this kind of torture.

Maybe it’s because they never played much as a child. They became little adults before their time. Or they only played competitive games. Many men have told me this. They’ve never really played for the sheer pleasure of it and without any goal in mind. Because as great as it is to play competitive sports, the focus of these is on winning and beating the other party – it is not about playing with, engaging with, or interacting with other people.

success through play
Most adults have lost the ability to play

It is the collaborative aspects of play that is so powerful, restorative and healing.

Most Adults Have Lost the Ability to Play

In fact most adults have lost the ability to play. It starts around the age eleven when the two hemispheres of the brain become more separate. The the educational system with its emphasis on left brain skills, very soon a door slams shut on the ability to play and being creative. (The two of course are inextricably linked.)

Certainly it happened to me. (In fact I loved playing Cindy dolls with my younger sister – long after it was “cool” to do so. I would have been embarrassed beyond belief if any of my friends had known what I did at the weekends, and so I kept it a very dark secret.)

And slowly and surely over time I stopped playing and became a very serious girl – and only too soon I completely lost touch with my ability to play.  I was hopeless at any kind at competitive sports and so I retreated into the world of books.In my first career in nursing I found it very difficult or even impossible to play with the children in my care. I had no idea how to interact with them. I felt awkward and stupid even trying to play with them.It was only much later when I started doing drama and started unlearning everything I had learnt, that I began to really play. To play in fact in a way that I never had done as a child. I discovered there was an immense capacity to play in me. I began to have fun and realised that most of my experiences of fun up till then hadn’t been too much fun.

By degrees I got freer and freer.  And something very powerful began to wake up in me.It was almost as if I needed to become and adult in order to really experience what it was to be a child.

The Life and Soul of the Party

And I began to see all kinds of changes in my outside life. Things I had been struggling with for years.I noticed it was that I was much more comfortable in social situations. Where previously I didn’t know what to say if someone was bantering with me, I suddenly found I could banter back. It just slipped out of me, and I found myself saying some quite clever things that I could never thought of in a million years. (This is the skill that most comedians and entertainers have in bucket loads.)

success through playI went from someone who was a wallflower living on the sidelines, to someone who could be the “life and soul of the party”. I found too I had more energy, felt more alive and felt much happier than I could ever remember feeling. I discovered too that I liked it when I was in the centre of things… that in fact I was a very different person from the one I always thought I was. I shifted rapidly from introvert to extravert.

It was time to reinvent myself, and tell the truth about who I really was.

Achieving Incredible Things

This stood me in good stead and was the basis on which I have achieved some pretty incredible things  in my life.

Now I have made playing my life’s work.

The more I play, the more my life works.

The more I play the more successful I am.

As soon as I stop my life grinds to a halt.

Indeed I help people to heal their deepest and most intractable issues through playing. And this is how the Sunflower Effect came about. It came through playing and allowing people to play. And the more they played, the deeper the healing.

success through play

I’m Paying You To Do This

Sometime ago one of my clients turned to me in a middle of a one to one session and said “I’m paying you to do this!”

She was both enraged, because as a survivor of sexual abuse she had a script that life was hard, and also amazed because she could see she was healing. But if anyone had looked in at what we were doing – they would probably think it looked pretty ridiculous. But that is the power of play.

Play enables you to live outside the box, to connect with the power and magic within you. It enables you to get to the essence of what you were born to be, before the outside world started to mess you up.

This is the very innocent but potent part of you, that if you can bring it into your daily life, can make your life go like clockwork. In sanskrit the word for play is lila. It means to divine play – the play of the gods. The gods took play pretty seriously so why don’t we? It is the ability to live in the present moment,  to be sponteous, to be uninhibited, and to become a child again – a wise child knows how to play.

success through play
The ability to be spontaneous, to be uninhibited…

A wise adult gets their best ideas, find solutions to intractable problems, and release emotional tension when they take time to play.

Scientist Candace Pert makes the point:

“Play is more than simple stress reduction… to act out our aggressions, fears and griefs, to gain mastery over these sometimes overwhelming emotions. When we are playing we are stretching our emotional expressive range, loosening up our biochemical flow of information, getting unstuck and healing our feelings.”

Brining it Into Your Daily Life

The hardest thing of all is to bring play into your daily life – to truly make play your modus operandi. When you do that all sorts of amazing things will start happening to you, opportunities will come your way, and your interactions with other people will be so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

It is a skill that can be learned. And there is no great mystique to it. It may take a little while to truly make it a part of your life, but it can be done.

success through playSo may I suggest you take the spirit of play into your day today. Practice it at the bank, or at the supermarket. Practice it with your children or with your friends. Bring the spirit of play into any problem you are wrestling with.

Some people find that by having something playful on them can help them to remember to be playful. They wear outrageous underwear or they have a small toy in their pocket, bag or briefcase that reminds them to play. Something that noone else would know was there.

Have a playful and very successful day.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. I am also always delighted to hear from you for any reason so do write to me if you have any questions,  comments or just want to share anything. I’ll answer as soon as I can.


© Claire Schrader 2010
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Brendan PhotoListen to this audio
of how playing enabled actor Brendan Gregory to melt the emotional blocks that were keeping his career stuck. And he is now experiencing a remarkable breakthrough in his career and life.  Click the start arrow.

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