When Work Leads to a Dead End, Try Play Instead

16 September 2022

By Linda Ferguson

People are sometimes puzzled when I say that play is a powerful state. They think of power as requiring work, and play as being something you do if you can find some time.

Grown ups will often only play if they see it as part of the work of parenting. And that means they are missing out on opportunities to make a difference.

Play is something we do when we are safe enough in the world to expend energy on something other than survival. The reverse is also true: when we play, we experience the world as a safe place. And when the world is safe, we have more energy and more brain power to use in exploration.

If you’ve done all the homework and study and pushed as hard as you can without finding an hour, you will have to do something different to find a workable solution or a new idea. Play is something different.

Do you think I make this stuff up? Check out this CBC article based on work done at the Perimeter Institute on the hobbies of famous scientists.

You don’t have to be a great scientist to benefit from play. If you’re someone who has put in the work and not found a fresh idea, then try doing something just for fun, and see what opens up later.

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