Play has a positive impact on creativity because— in addition to helping us both mind-wander and diversify— it stimulates positive emotion, which research shows leads to greater insight and better problem solving. Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that positive emotions increase our cognitive resources by expanding our visual attention. When we feel good, we gain the ability to pay attention to a wider range of experiences. We see the big picture rather than getting bogged down in the details. In other words, if you feel stuck in a rut or you can’t think yourself out of a problem or don’t see a way out of a situation, play may be a way of getting “unstuck” and coming up with innovative ideas.
Just as joy and fun can make you more creative, creativity in turn enhances your well- being. The more creative you become, the more joy you invite into your life. Nikola Tesla wrote, “I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success. . . . Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything.”
By naturally tapping into your inner creativity, you reconnect with the joy you had as a child playing. You engage in a positive feedback loop that continues to replenish you with joy and creativity. It makes for an adult life rich with delight and inventiveness.
Stanford psychologist Emma Seppälä writing in the Washington Post