Monthly Archives: February 2016

March’s Hot Topic – Problem Solving

Having reaped the rewards of increased flexibility and adaptiveness by incorporating more play into our daily lives – the two key qualities which most equip us for dealing with change – I thought that problem solving would be a great hot topic to cover as we would now be in a perfect position to look at how best to tackle change and decision making when it inevitably arises.


Problem solving is a six step process which, to do well, involves us being receptive to all possibilities so we can look at and evaluate all the options objectively.


In this month’s series we will be covering:


  1. Identify and Clearly Define the Problem
  2. Brainstorm Possible Solutions
  3. Assess the Pro’s and Con’s
  4. Plan how to carry out your solutions
  5. Action
  6. Review


Although these steps look relatively simple in practise problem solving can be quite involved so throughout March I’ll be taking you through the steps one by one so you can get the most out of your decision making. As always the more in-depth series posts will be featured on Mondays with linear posts published Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.





Lose yourself in play: Invent games!

When 500 days of summer came out (a great romcom if ever there was one) I was astonished as I had already played the game that featured in the famous scene in the park, the one where they yell out that word louder and louder. I must have laughed so hard at the TV I cried, remembering just how funny those moments when I had played that game had been.


One of the ways we can become immersed in play is to invent funny games such as these. There are so many ways you can get creative and invent games, below I have listed just a few of the games I have invented over the years which will hopefully inspire you to create your very own.


  • Say a naughty word and progressively say it louder and louder until you are shouting it (this is a great exercise to lose all self consciousness)
  • Play truth or dare
  • Embarrass your friends – the one who embarrasses someone the most wins
  • Score points at Karaoke for effort
  • See who can pull the ugliest face – the winner wins a free drink


Have you ever invented a game? Which games have you played in the past? Do you like the idea of playing some of the games in this post? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, support and insight from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

Lose yourself in play: Embracing silliness!

In my younger years I naturally embraced silliness. I skipped down the street, piggybacked unexpectedly on friends, made up games and generally giggled a lot. Somewhere along the way, perhaps as I grew older, I ceased being as silly. It happened so gradually that it took for me to reflect to notice it, but nevertheless it happened. I still had my silly moments of course, but they had become fewer and further between.


Although some might call this a natural progression when we age I was determined to regain some of my silliness that shaped my younger years. Silliness that created spontaneity, joy and a sense of wonder. After all I had known many people older than I who had retained silliness and embraced it well into old age.


How to Avoid Problems by Integrating Play Part Four

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock


Last week we looked at the advantages of having a bucket list in helping us play more and reaping plays benefits of light-heartedness, flexibility and optimism. This week we discover the essential questions to ask yourself when creating your bucket list.


The main questions to ask yourself when compiling your bucket list are…


  • What have I always wanted to do?
  • Where do I want to travel?
  • What events would I like to go to?
  • What activities would I like to try out?
  • What classes would I like to take?
  • What hobbies would I like to adopt?
  • What skills would I like to have?
  • Which sports would I like to try out?


After realizing many of my problems were a result of a lack of play in my life (causing me to be inflexible and have a reduced resilience to stress) I have to admit that I cannot wait to embark on more play this year and focus on my 40 before 40 bucket list.


Why laughter is good for our health

My parents have always been a little wacky. My dad is a regular Billy Connolly and my mom is quite zany too. During a typical day with them the sound of laughter fills the room. My laugh takes after my mom’s; an all out ‘you either love it or hate it’ chuckle that you can’t help but find infectious.


My parents have always instilled the importance of laughter in me, often saying that if you can laugh at the most dire of times it will see you through. The older I’ve grown, the more I’ve realized just how true that is. I’ll never forget how, whilst receiving treatment back in 2009, I went to watch Ruby Wax (who also suffered from depression) and how I gasped for breath during my gut wrenching laughs at her accounts which poked fun at the depths of depression. Laughter really is the best cure.


Although I’ve always valued laughter, recognizing it’s importance and how essential it can be to play, I’ve only recently discovered its proven health benefits. Of course there are the obvious psychological benefits such as lightning burdens, reducing stress, fear and anxiety, an increased sense of intimacy and happiness but there are physical benefits too.  For example, it actually strengthens our immune system, reduces pain, gives us a surge in energy and perhaps most surprisingly of all, helps to prevent heart disease.


Below are just some of the ways you can introduce more laughter into your life, enjoy!


Why loosing inhibition is advantageous to play

I often see children playing out in public as if nothing existed beyond the game they were engaged in. Witnessing children’s play is joyful; it is so uninhibited and they are so absorbed. As adults, we can learn a great deal from child like play. When we allow ourselves to fully let go of our inhibitions whilst engaging in play we enter a truly joyful and captivated state.


Naturally inhibitions serve a purpose. As we approach adulthood we learn what is socially acceptable and what is not and thus develop inhibitions around what we consider to be socially unacceptable. Like any psychological protection mechanism it can backfire and prove outdated. The danger is that I might perceive something as socially unacceptable whereas in fact it is fine. For example, I always used to dance whenever I felt like it – whether the dance floor was empty or not. Since giving up drinking, this proved harder and admittedly my inhibitions curtailed my spontaneous dancing… for a while.


So if you want to recapture your inner child and be captivated by play again simply follow the steps I successfully took which will help you to lose your inhibitions.


Why routine could hamper your ability to learn (and the playful solution)

In the years I spent living ‘off the cuff’ I always envied those more organized, viewing organisation as a valuable life skill. Whilst I’m a firm believer that being organized leads to greater productivity and realizing goals, surprisingly there are draw backs.


I was stunned to discover that those with highly structured lives have poorer memory function and a reduced capacity to learn when compared with those who enjoy a healthy amount of novelty in their daily lives. Novelty literally increases the brains plasticity – allowing us to more effectively retain new information.


There are several interesting applications to these findings for those that wish to improve your memory and learn new things, the top three being:


  • Change to an unfamiliar environment when learning new things
  • Revise a mixture of new and old facts to learn more effectively
  • Learn new things in the thirty minutes following doing something novel


Even though I lead a very structured life when I’ve ventured on holiday I always love being bombarded with novelty, I find it exciting – invigorating even. When I’m not on holiday my 40 before 40 bucket list serves to inject some much needed novelty into my diary, reminding me that variety is good for the soul. As you can see, a structured life needn’t be the enemy of novelty!


There are many ways to add novelty to your life should you wish to reap the rewards of a better memory and an increased capacity to learn (and who wouldn’t?). Remember, if the new activity you are trying out is playful too, the benefits are compounded by increased flexibility, adaptiveness, hope for the future and even optimism.


How to Avoid Problems by Integrating Play Part Three

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock


After thinking more about the role play had in my life I realized I needed to make a play action plan. My strategy was two-fold, first I would force myself to take one day off a week and play with friends or family, the second was something I had already been working on – my 40 before 40 bucket list. When I looked over the bucket list after having realized what adult play was, I saw that almost 90% of it was actually play.


My list was packed with holidays, classes, hobbies and activities that I had never tried before but always wanted to, it was the perfect solution to my recent lack of play! I couldn’t have actually planned it better; the novelty factor would serve to add to my sense of fun and engagement whilst the holidays would add an element of adventure too.


Why You Won’t Regret Taking A Class

Often joyful and immersive play happens when novelty exists. One of the best ways to create this type of playful experience is to try out a new class, something which excites and motivates you. Below is a list of all the different types of classes available, find one that appeals to you and check to see if it is featured on – a website which offers deals on taster sessions of all the best classes in your area.


• Yoga
• Pilates
• Aerobics
• Cooking (all types)
• Sewing
• Knitting
• Creative Writing
• Speed Reading
• Memory Training
• Massage


Why Not Reading Could Damage Your Quality of Life

Reading can transport us to the most adventurous, exciting of places. We can travel to far away countries, be inspired by true tales of touching, poignant or even triumphant lives or venture into magical worlds of fiction. Reading is play at its best. Reading can impact our lives profoundly, enabling us to view the world from a different perspective, perhaps even motivating us to change how we live our lives.


When we don’t read we rob ourselves of the opportunity to widen our worldview, expand our life experience, learn from those wiser than us and, critically, play. Whether you enjoy fiction or non-fiction we can all benefit from reading a good book.



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