Homo Ludens

Play isn't just silliness. As children, we learn through play, developing and practicing the physical and intellectual skills necessary for our grown-up lives.  In his 1938 book Homo Ludens, Dutch anthropologist Johan Huizinga noted that play emerges when it's given permission to be present.

But as adults, we stop allowing ourselves to play. We hesitate to put ourselves in situations where we might get things wrong, because then we might look bad in a world that predominantly celebrates success.

When we play, mistakes are expected. We allow them. They're fascinating instead of frustrating. It was a playful 'what if' approach to a mistake that led to one of the biggest office supply innovations in the world.

In 1968, 3M chemist Dr. Spencer Silver was trying to create super-strong adhesives for the aerospace industry. Instead of something useful for building planes, however, he accidentally managed to create an incredibly weak, pressure-sensitive adhesive.  It was an embarrassing mess-up. That is, until a colleague of his, who sang in a church choir, got frustrated with the way page markers kept falling out of his hymn books. He mentioned this to Silver and suggested they use the ‘mistake’ adhesive on the back of pieces of paper, so they could be stuck down and then easily removed and moved whenever needed.

And so the Post-It Note was born.

Designing your ideal life is a creative process that thrives in a playful environment. To create, you have to be willing to mess up every now and then, hit roadblocks and find your way around and through them.

We never know what opportunities might be around the corner, or what unexpected paths might open up in front of us. Opportunity rarely knocks right on time – more often than not, it shows up early. So try new things. Do more of the old ones you love.

Be ready. Play.

© Clear Simple SOULutions LLC 2019