creativity and playfulness

by Bernard De Koven on December 27, 2012

Today, I have for you a little thought experiment for you to play with. Eine Kleine Gedanken experiment, one might say, were one of the Germanic persuasion. It’s about creativity and playfulness.

In an article I called “Playfulness vs. Creativity,” I played with the idea that creativity and playfulness might be different words for the same thing. I took one of Csikszentmihalyi’s brilliant explorations of creativity and had the temerity, the nerve, even, to perform an unauthorized search and replace upon it – searching all occurrences of “creativity” and related words, and replacing them with “playfulness.” Here’s what I came up with. Take a minute. Click that link. Spend a couple minutes with it. Then read on. It’ll get more fun, I promise.

Here’s the Gedanken:

Suppose that there were no word for creativity.

Suppose, instead, whenever we wanted to describe a creative person or talent, we used the word “playful.”

Suppose that companies who were seeking out creative individuals were to look, instead, for playful people; that courses designed to nurture creativity were instead focused on playfulness; that artists, inventors, innovators we consider the captains of creativity, become known as the paragons of playfulness – what would change?

Just about everything – everything except the gifts these playful people had to offer. Education would change. Designers, artists, innovators would go to nursery schools and kindergartens to get their graduate degrees. The genius of students at places like MIT and Stanford would be turned towards the development of playgrounds that embraced all the arts and all the sciences and everyone – children, adults, the aged – who wanted to play. Paragons of playfulness would recognized, challenged, honored, funded. We would have the Nobel Prize for Playfulness. And you, just because you’re silly enough to think about things like this, would be a candidate.


A Playful Path photoA playful path is the shortest road to happiness.
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