From Plato to Play-to: A Foundational Philosophy of Play

PLAY-TO = Passionate Living Allows You to Open

By Marney Makridakis from Hop, Skip, Jump | Updated 12/2/20


dohIn 2006, a Play-Doh fragrance was created in celebration of Play-Doh’s fiftieth anniversary. According to Hasbro, the special fragrance was “meant for highly creative people, who seek a whimsical scent reminiscent of their childhood.” What scents remind you of playful moments in your childhood? How might you reconnect with those scents in your life today?

Plato quoted Socrates as saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” These famous words may have unintentionally kick-started the entire self-help industry. While we are so fortunate to live in a time when we have seemingly infinite resources to support us in examining our lives, one might argue that our culture has become rather overexamined. Existing merely with the goal of self-examination can keep you stuck in a place of exploring inwardly rather than expressing outwardly. It’s also an easy way to get really, really bored with yourself.

A Foundational Philosophy of Play

One way to define a meaningful life at its fullest is expression in action. It happens when you take something from inside and create it on the outside. This is true even if nobody else sees what you manifest. If you want to have better dental hygiene, it’s not enough to just get the idea. You need to adjust any beliefs that stand in the way; you need to try a few different ways to do it; and you need to start using the right brush, floss, or Waterpik and stay motivated to keep using them. It doesn’t matter if anyone else ever notices (though I imagine your dentist and your significant other would) — you have taken an idea from the inside and expressed it on the outside.

To approach manifestation playfully, your first step is to create a foundational philosophy of play. We can use Plato to inspire us. We could also use Play-Doh, but that might be a little messier. Besides, you might not have any Play-Doh handy, or at least not nearly enough multicolored canisters to adequately express yourself, because you just started this book and haven’t fully embraced your playful side yet. Just wait — you will!

Your playful journey starts with the words you say about what you want. A play-to philosophy can be constructed simply by inserting “play to” in any statement about your goal. The table below gives some examples.

Statement about Your Goal Reformulated as a Play-To Statement
I want to lose weight. I will play to lose weight.
I want to spend more time with my family. I will play to spend more time with my family.
I want to manage my time better. I will play to manage my time better.

Try This: Create Your Play-to Philosophy

To create a meaningful life, the first step is to define meaning. What does meaning mean to you? Connect with your meaning of meaning and not some meanie’s meaning of meaning. (Can you imagine the field day my editor is having with this playful stuff?) The bottom line is that meaning is personal to you, and you get to create it yourself.

  1. Grab your crayons and draw a big circle on a piece of paper. In the center, write, “My Meaningful Life.” Feel free to sing “Circle of Life” from The Lion King as you draw. Or not.

  2. Fill the page with words, phrases, and doodles that represent a meaningful life. Fill the entire page. Turn it upside down. Write big and write small. Try different colors of markers or crayons, as colors help activate play. Write words in different languages, preferably made-up ones.

  3. After your word collage is complete, write a list of goals that will help you move closer to what is inside your circle of meaning. Write them in the format “I want to...”

  4. Finally, rewrite each goal or intention as a play-to statement. As a reminder of the extremely fancy technique shared above, this means taking a phrase like “I want to get a new job” and substituting the words “play to” so that it becomes “I will play to get a new job.” This is your play-to philosophy. It all starts with your words. This stuff works. Or better said, “plays.

Excerpted from Hop, Skip, Jump: 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life ©2014 Marney Makridakis. Printed with permission of NewWorldLibrary.com.