What Is Your Play Personality?

As adults, we can make playing around sophisticated. Just because you weren’t the class clown doesn’t mean you are doomed to be the party pooper – play comes in a variety of personalities.

by Pete Ferguson

Yesterday I discussed why active play is important for keeping your brain energized, unlike the Sea Squirt who devours its brain by surrendering to a passive life.

Constant exploration and fun is not necessarily “wasting” time. Play stimulates our brain, inspires creative thought, and creates a more meaningful and fulfilling life.

So what is your play personality? You may have one that you gravitate to more than others, but hopefully you have a combination of several.

In Stuart Brown’s book Play, his research helped define the following categorizations of play:

  • The Joker – Always revolving around some kind of “nonsense,”we likely all began life as a Joker. Baby talk and laughing babies make little to no sense, but help develop communication skills. If you were the class clown or remember who was, much of what a class clown does has little other purpose but to make others laugh. I can remember little about third grade, but I remember Phillip well and how he always was quick with a joke – verbal or practical.
  • The Kinesthete – If you need to move to think, this category applies to you. Athletes, dancers, and hand talkers all play through movement. After watching the often bratty and overly serious Summer Olympic gymnasts, however, not all movement looks like playing! If like me you have to be moving to have fun, remember to keep it light.
  • The Explorer – I was relieved to learn this is play, because it means I spend more time in play than originally thought. If you have to know what’s behind a closed door, or what’s going on in different parts of the world, this is one of your play personalities.  It also applies to exploring emotions, meeting new people, and experiencing art, music, dance, and other mediums.
  • The Competitor – If you play to win and enjoy the thrill of dominating the game, this is one of your personalities. Competitors like to be the “top dog” and measure success by keeping score through points, money, or perks.
  • The Director – If you like to be the one in the know when it comes to planning a party, organizing the office, or otherwise being “in charge,” you are likely playing the part of the director. Hopefully you are the instigator of fun. But this one has a dark side, if you are manipulative and are only happy when you are in charge, it’s time to lighten up a bit.
  • The Collector – If your house is filled with collections and family vacations are planned to add to said collections, this is you. The thrill of play for the collector is to have the best and most interesting collection of objects. In a healthy state, collecting is a double dose of fun because enjoyment is had in collecting and displaying objects.
  • The Artist/Creator – The curiosity to create, disassemble and reassemble, and organize fall under this category. There are a vast number of ways in which artists create, recreate, impersonate, and otherwise explore how to share experiences through different mediums, aspects, and perspectives. Also a double dose of play, most artists enjoy the creation and the sharing of their creativity.
  • The Storyteller – “For the storyteller, the imagination is the key to the kingdom of play.” (p70) Everyone involved in a theatrical play or movie production aides in the telling of the story.

Learn: Did you rediscover any forgotten play personalities, or were you reminded of what you’d like to do more of each week?

Act: Get moving, creating, joking. It just dawned on me today the word use “practical” in a practical joke … having fun and engaging in play is the practicality.

Share: Whether you like to journal for yourself or talk with others, find more ways to explore your play personalities and develop in areas you may not be as comfortable in. Share your art, dance, writing, and creations with others.


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