Gretchen Rubin

Quiz Yourself: What Kind of Play Do You Enjoy?

Quiz Yourself: What Kind of Play Do You Enjoy?

Every Wednesday is Tip Day — or Quiz Day.
This Wednesday: Quiz: What’s your personality — for play?

As I’ve worked on the subjects of habits and happiness, the importance of play has becoming increasingly apparent to me. For a happy life, it’s not enough to have an absence of bad feelings — we also need sources of good feelings. And to master good habits, we need to feel re-charged and cared for -- and nothing is more energizing than having fun. We must have treats! Play is a wonderful kind of treat.

For many adults, however, it’s surprisingly hard to know how to have more fun. If you don’t know what to do for fun, a good question to consider is: What did you do for fun when you were ten years old? Because that’s probably something you’d enjoy now, whether walking in the woods, playing with your dog, making things with your hands, taking pictures, playing basketball, or dancing around the living room. When I was ten years old, I spent hours copying my favorite quotations into “blank books” and illustrating the passages with pictures I cut from magazines. Exactly what I do on my blog!

Because of my interest in play, I read Stuart Brown’s Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.

I was particularly struck by Brown’s analysis of the question, “What is your play personality?” He makes clear that these categories aren’t scientifically based, but a product of his years of observation.

Where do you fit in these eight personalities?

1. The Joker — makes people laugh, plays practical jokes.

2. The Kinesthete — loves to move, dance, swim, play sports.

3. The Explorer — goes to new places, meets new people, seeks out new experiences (physically or mentally).

4. The Competitor — loves all forms of competition, has fun keeping score.

5. The Director — enjoys planning and executing events and experiences, like throwing parties, organizing outings, and leading.

6. The Collector — loves the thrill of collecting, whether objects or experiences.

7. The Artist/Creator — finds joy in making things, fixing things, decorating, working with his or her hands.

8. The Storyteller — loves to use imagination to create and absorb stories, in novels, movies, plays, performances.

I wonder if there's a #9 -- what's the right word for the person who loves to code? Or maybe that category is bigger, "The Builder," for people who love to build, but not with their hands, as in #7, but virtually or on paper. Or maybe it's more about solving puzzles, like the person who loves crosswords, Scrabble, puzzles. Hmmm...I don't have this quite right...what is it?

What do you think? Does this accurately capture the different worlds of play?

I found it extremely helpful to see these categories, because it made clear some questions that have long mystified me. How is it possible that some people seem positively to enjoy planning big events? Why don’t I enjoy having a collection the way so many people do (though people have pointed out to me that I do have a collection: I'm an avid collector of quotations)? Why don’t I much like playing cards or board games?

I am #8 through and through, with only a bit of #7. How about you? I wonder if some people have strong appreciation for more than a few categories, or if I’m typical, with a strong inclination for a single category.

It's interesting that his list seems to be more weighted to physical play, and contact with the external world, while my own forms of play are mostly inside my head. Is play more "play" when it takes you into contact with the outer world and other people? Maybe...which makes me wonder: where does a love of playing video games fit in?

Do you see yourself in this scheme? What do you do for play, and where does it fit in here? What would you add?

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