How to Deal With People You Don't Like: A Lesson From My Three-Year-Old

My daughter, Linor, loves playing pretend. One minute she’s a wolf, the next she’s a snail, and then she turns into a doctor. Here’s her as a unicorn (preview Halloween pic)!

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All kids do this. And I used to! And you used to!

Playing is fundamental to our development; it's an instinct. In fact, it’s not just humans who play - but animals do, too!

But what’s unique about us as humans, is that our brains are actually designed to play through adulthood.  Whereas if you observe many animal species, like wolves - they stop playing once they’re all grown up.  

So why do human adults need to keep playing? Because play helps us navigate uncertainty in a fun way; when we're at play, we naturally practice getting familiar with the changing world around us.  And boy, is our world all sorts of changin'! 

This is why when I first launched Woopaah, I was obsessed with how to get adults to play.

Here's a pic of one of our immersive play experiences.  

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But after a lot of research and work - what I realized is that play is not about the activity you’re engaged in or the toys you have, it’s about your mindset!

To have a play mindset you must be open to the unknown, in the moment, willing to take risks, and engaged without judgment.

What just hit me when watching Linor this morning was that playing pretend could be an adaptive technique to build empathy.

When my daughter is a snail she curls up into a ball and sees the world from a different perspective than when she’s a raging dinosaur who runs around trying to eat us.

So, what does this have to do with you, with work, with life?

Think about someone who you don’t like. In a quiet space, intentionally pretend that you’re them. View the world through their eyes, without judgment, and with a willingness to discover.

Notice what you notice.

And maybe, just maybe, your heart will open just a crack and you’ll see things a little differently.

If you like this topic of play and how it transforms us, check out my Tedx talk here. 



With love,
Stella

P.S. Enjoy my new website! :) 

Stella Grizont