Play: Embrace the wisdom of your inner child

Published on Sep 29, 2020

This is my ongoing series with notes as I explore the concept of Essentialism.

Introduction to Essentialism

The power of choice

The unimportance of practically everything

Trade-offs: Which problem do I want?

The perks of being unavailable

See what really matters

The majority of us were not formally taught how to play when we were children; we picked it up naturally and instinctively. As we get older, however, something happens. We are introduced to the idea that play is trivial. Play is a waste of time. Play is unnecessary. Play is childish. 

The word school is derived from the Greek word schole, meaning "leisure." Yet our modern school system, born in the Industrial Revolution, has removed the leisure--and much of the pleasure--out of learning. 

Play, defined as anything we do simply for the joy of doing rather than as a means to an end--whether it's flying a kite or listening to music or throwing around a baseball--might seem like a nonessential activity. Based on studies, play has the power to significantly improve everything from personal health to relationships to education to organizations' ability to innovate. It leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity. 

Play broadens the range of options available to us. It helps us see possibilities we otherwise wouldn't have seen and make connections we would otherwise not have made. Play is an antidote to stress. Stress is an enemy of productivity and can actually shut down the creative, inquisitive, and exploratory parts of our brain. Play also has a positive effect on the executive function of the brain.

Play doesn't just help us to explore what is essential. It is essential in and of itself.


Thinks play is trivial

Thinks play is an unproductive waste of time


Knows play is essential

Knows play sparks exploration

What did you do as a child that excited you? How can you re-create that today? Time to set aside some time for play.