Did you know that at the age of four, 96 per cent of children think they can be anything they want to be, but that by the age of 18 only four per cent of them still believe it?
As we grow up and get sensible, we tend to close down our sense of possibility, trading in our dreams and passions for a steady pay check and a “proper job”. Somewhere along the way we have lost the ability to play. Playing can seem irresponsible to many people.
But Leonardo da Vinci recognised and embraced the value of play, as did Albert Einstein years later when he said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
Be playful. Cultivate your inner child. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Act up a little, goof-off, experiment—if you find yourself in trouble, smile.
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the brain’s feel good chemicals, setting off an emotional reaction makes us feel great.
Benefits of play include:
- Boosting your creativity and problem solving skills
- Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression
- Improving your relationships and connections with others
- Bringing more balance, fun, lightness and levity into your life
- Diminishing your worries
- Increasing your ability to do creative and productive work
Leonardo was a great prankster, and he loved surrounding himself with other pranksters—people who were young in mind, body and spirit. This probably explains why he took in a young 10-year-old apprentice who he nicknamed Salai, The Devil. He often wrote in his journal how mischievous and naughty, but also how interesting, the young boy was.
Examples of Leonardo’s playful creations include the sets for theatrical productions he designed and stages for his wealthy grown-up patrons, including the Duke of Milan and The King of France.
With his playful approach to experimentation and a positive, joyous response to the world around him, Leonardo da Vinci was a dedicated practitioner of his art, working constantly through his life and producing a very large and varied body of work.
As play researcher and psychiatrist Stuart Brown says in his book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, “A lack of play should be treated like malnutrition: it’s a health risk to your body and mind.”
How can you be more playful—at home and at work?
What benefits will flow?
One of my favourite ways to play is to escape into a book. A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way ~ Caroline Herschel, astronomer.
You’ll find some other strategies to laugh more and stress less in The Art of Success: How Extraordinary Artists Can Help You Succeed in Business and Life (Book One: Leonardo da Vinci) available in paper back and eBook from Amazon here getBook.at/TheArtofSuccess