Skip to main content


Tool KitBehaviorsPlayfulness

Visual cue: Monkey

Innovation Behavior #8: Playfulness

Playfulness isn’t just for fun — in fact, there’s science behind silliness! Play and playfulness have been identified as a crucial factors in the development, long-term growth, and maintenance of the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This part of your brain controls things like problem-solving.

Taking care of your prefrontal cortex with a playful mindset can increase your mental and emotional flexibility, allowing for more agile cognitive and social functioning under challenging circumstances.

Skeptical? Don’t forget that the world’s most famous innovators have been known for their playful sides. Think Einstein and Picasso!

A playful mindset takes “the pressure” off of solving a problem, allowing your brain to open the gates between your conscious and subconscious and paving the way for creative and innovative thinking. When you allow the subconscious mind to chime in, you are more likely to explore novel possibilities or identify connections between two seemingly unrelated dots.

Put Playfulness into Practice

  • When approaching a task, pretend there are no stakes at hand, rules to follow, or consequences that might come from any of it. How might you do things differently if this were the case?
  • Take a play break! Spend ten minutes doing something relaxing and fun, like doing a crossword, playing ping-pong, etc.
  • Remember, playfulness isn’t an activity in itself — anything can be done playfully!

Playfulness is used with the following tools: