In Play – Part 1, I shared the importance of play and the devastating consequences that come when it is absent from our lives. Engaging our play personalities is quite possibly the most effective and enjoyable way to improve our overall health and wellness. Below is a list of the eight play personalities and their descriptions. As you read, try to identify the two or three personalities that fit you best.
The joker loves to spread joy through laughter. If they are the outgoing type, they may be the class clown or have a knack for practical jokes and pranks. My 6 year old son is the quintessential joker. He can find humor in anything and is always looking at the bright side even in the most difficult situations.
Explorers love to experience anything that is new to them. They may enjoy exploring physical spaces, like visiting another city or country. Or perhaps they want to learn a new topic or master a new skill. As long as it is new, explorers are interested.
Directors are oftentimes natural leaders. They like to plan and organize events. As a child, the director may be the kid who runs through the neighborhood knocking on the other kids’ doors to gather everyone for a day of fun. As adults, they may enjoy planning a vacation or a dinner party.
Note: While the director may have a natural talent for leadership, not all leaders fall into this play personality. This personality type is for the person who truly finds joy and fulfillment when they are directing.
The collector enjoys building and completing collections. These may be physical items like baseball cards or lego sets. They also could be places or experiences, like visiting all the national parks or hiking all of the 14ers in Colorado.
When most people think of competitors, they think of the people who hate losing the most. Those are not necessarily the people with the competitor play personality. Win or lose, the competitor finds great enjoyment in the competition itself, not in the outcome. They may love to compete in sports or board games. Competition could be social or individual as well. My 3 year old daughter is emerging as a competitor. She is bigger, faster, and stronger than everyone else (including me).
The kinesthete could enjoy any activity as long as it involves motion. They simply love to move. Activities could include running, dancing, swimming, yoga, or team sports.
The person with this play personality tends to be full of ideas and finds fulfillment in bringing them to life. They tend to be tactile learners and tend to find enjoyment in activities like drawing, painting, engineering, or music. They tend to have great appreciation for beauty and creativity in the world around them. This suits my wife to a T. Her favorite way to express her creativity is through decorating our home in beautiful and unique ways.
Storytellers don’t mind taking things slowly. They would much rather connect to others by telling a story rather than just sharing facts. They are often skilled with language and have great appreciation for details. The outgoing storyteller may draw a crowd at a dinner party and have a knack for making mundane events interesting for the listener. My 8 year old daughter is a storyteller and she prefers to write her stories or share them with close friends or family, and she will read just about anything she can get her hands on.
Identifying your Play Personality
Some of you could have identified your primary personality types immediately. For others, it is not so easy. As I mentioned in last month’s post, the duties and responsibilities of life can sometimes cause our play personalities to fade far into the background or even be lost entirely. This is often the case for my clients who struggle with depression. In addition to traditional treatment (therapy, medication, etc.), people can find substantial relief from depressive symptoms by actively pursuing joy and fulfillment through play. Rediscovering a lost play personality could very well be the key to unlocking a joyful and fulfilling life.
If you are having trouble identifying yours, think back to your earliest memories in childhood. What did you do for fun? What were those things you could spend hours doing and it only felt like a few minutes? When did you feel most alive? Those are the moments when you were likely your most authentic self; when your activities were not overshadowed by duty or influenced by social pressure. That is where your true personality lives.
Since personality tends to remain consistent throughout a person’s lifespan, you are almost certain to enjoy the same types of activities you enjoyed in those earliest memories. The activities themselves may change, but what you loved about those activities remains.
Please comment below and share your play personalities! Come back next month for Part 3 where I will discuss how we can connect with others by leveraging our play personalities.