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E3 The Power of Playfulness In Life, Work, War

March 2024

67 minutes

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Episode Notes

Life can feel very serious. But the power of play can supercharge our emotional and cognitive abilities. Play and fun increase our sense of learning and help us build resilience. In this episode we explore the power of playfulness and fun and all they have to offer us in our personal lives, work, crisis and even war.

is a global, leadership-strategy consulting company. 3Peak creates the roadmap that aligns behaviours, relationships and Functional Human-Systems™ to achieve your business strategy.

Co-Founder holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, and did extensive research in Consciousness, Trauma and Physical, Emotional & Mental Health in various Institutes and Research Centers around Europe.

Co-Founder is one of the most sought after therapists in the world, mastering diverse modalities and opening wellness centers in Istanbul, Santiago, New York and Berlin. Her approaches bridges transpersonal psychology, meditation, bioenergetics, family- and business-constellations and more.

Co-Founder has extensive experience advising Fortune 50 and FTSE 100 C-Suite Executives in leadership, strategy, team dynamics, and organizational change. Before coaching, Mino worked in finance, management consulting, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A).


Mino Vlachos: Hello and welcome to the 3Peak Master Leadership Experience podcast. I'm your host Mino and I am joined by my co founders, Mazen and Krisana. And together we've started a company, 3Peak Coaching and Solutions, where we support organizations to set their strategy, develop their people, and remove obstacles along the way. Today's topic is about play and fun. So we're going to have fun with this today and enjoy ourselves. And we're really going to see how play and fun can help us on a personal level, interpersonal level, how it might apply to work, and of course, how it helps us in the world at large. So to begin with our session today, we're going to start with ourselves and if you're listening along, you can think about your own experiences and how they.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Might apply to you.

Mino Vlachos: So I'll start with Krisana. When you were growing up, it's a nice question. When you were growing up, what games did you play that you really enjoyed?

Krisana Locke: The games I used to really enjoy playing was just let me go back there. I really enjoyed playing skateboard games with my brothers, like really skateboarding up and down the street. I also really remember enjoying before school. Sometimes we would be outside playing and doing make believe, like playing that we were creating some make believe place and building before we went to school. I clearly remember that was such a joy. I think my father had left a tent or the sails of a sailing boat over a clothes hanger and then we just made it look with this and we were playing inside that. So I remember those games, but a lot to do with bicycles outside playing, playing in the nature I grew up with. Fortunately grew up with a lot of nature to support me and open spaces. So I had a lot of spontaneous creativity coming from nature.

Mino Vlachos: What about you games you played as.

Dr. Mazen Harb: A kid you really liked? I'm smiling because actually just diving immediately to this topic and diving with those questions because we did not prepare the questions actually directly made me really smile. It's the really best way to start such a podcast with such an intro, diving in things that makes me have fun, you said. Or what's exactly what games did you.

Mino Vlachos: Play as a kid that you enjoyed?

Dr. Mazen Harb: Excellent. Probably that gives me this fat smile is wrestling. We were really imitating the like during the US WWF and then I was lucky to have two brothers and really were like cubs of lions and we were wrestling all the time. We create the arena, we create everything. We had tricks, we used to copy things, but we really learned so much to play together that we knew how not to hurt yet to do all the movements. So it's interesting, the intelligence of the body of a child. The more they train actually to play, the more we really. You do locks and things like this, but you really stop. And if you stop before anything breaks and somebody looks from the outside, they think we're really hurting each other, but actually we're not. But all of it was within our brain, body system unconsciously, and that's the best play. Later on, my brother still wanted to play when I was, like, 25 or 30. And I'm like, it was not fun because it was harder and it required a lot of flexibility. But sometimes, yeah, it's a good remembering. And even to remember, it gives me this fat, big smile. I was fortunate to have two brothers to be able to play those games. That's the first one alone, I would say. So this is with my brothers, which is my best resources, and alone, I would say, being in nature, being in the mountains when we used to go every weekend and climbing trees, man, I loved climbing trees. I used to see myself as a monkey everywhere in my hands, and it was such a joyous thing to jump around, climbing and, yeah, be invincible in this kind of animalistic world, and feeling myself as invincible as an animal, human in this flexibility, jumping around. That's alone.

Mino Vlachos: You've unlocked so many different memories. Yeah, you've unlocked so many different memories for me just in sharing, because me and my cousins in Greece used to do the WWE thing, too. They really were into it, and I realized I could probably talk for an hour just on games that I played. But one of the things that I really loved with my grandmother, and as, like a family, we used to play a couple of games. One was this greek game called Grignari, which is called the whiner, or the one who whines, like, whining. And it's kind of, like, similar to the american game trouble or, sorry, where you're moving the little pieces around the board, and if you land on someone, you send them back home and they have to start over. And me, my sister, my grandmother, and my dad, we used to play that a lot. And it would just get, like, when you're laughing so much, you can't breathe and you're crying, like, just complete chaos. It was so much fun. I mean, as a kid, I played outside so much with my friends, and we loved inventing new games. So it's fun, right? We were so bored at times that we then had to become so creative in the opposite direction. So the games we would invent were incredible. With, like, I don't know, balls and this and that and make believe and just running around the neighborhood and being in nature. So we had so much fun and even starting to play video games when we were a bit older, there was just so much enjoyment around us. And I think sometimes I actually forget how much we played and just loved and enjoyed our time as kids. It was so much joyful. Card games. Uno. That was another big one for my family. With my grandma. We played so much uno. Yeah, we really loved it.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Really enjoyed it.

Krisana Locke: It's so interesting because I do remember when I was young, you did get bored. There was not always constant stimulus like there is today with online or computers, phones. And I remember you just go outside and you felt bored, but then you found something to do. And I constantly remember my mother saying, go outside and play. If you went, mom, I don't know what to do. Or my father said, go out and play, and you'd go out, and it was good to feel moments of being bored. And then next moment, you did something, you created something, you played. I think that's missing these days. Just when you were saying boredom, I said, that's really missing a lot. Like, people are afraid to fill that gap and the gap and allow something to come from that. And through play. It's play is moment to moment.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Yes.

Mino Vlachos: I realized also as I was, I'm going to now move myself from child to teenager to young adult that somehow in somewhere, that sense of play started to diminish. And I noticed in myself, like, this fear of play, this seriousness, this heaviness that started to kind of weigh down on me, especially when I started working for the first time. So I was working on Wall Street 40 hours a week, like suit on tie. I started to get really just kind of this heaviness. And I noticed that when I was even around children, I couldn't be around kids anymore because I felt, like, weird or awkward. I didn't know how to be with young kids. I was this very stiff and kind of rigid guy. And something dimmed in me. And then it was through doing exercises like active meditations, dynamic meditation in particular, in my mid twenty s, it was through some of the exercises that the two of you were sharing at the time on personal development in tantric energetics, that all of a sudden I felt this unlayering happening, this joy starting to emerge, this sense of play start to reemerge. So my question to both of you, and you can start with whoever wants to go first, is really, why do we first kind of close to play in life. And how do we reopen to play since I've seen it through your work that reignite within myself. So maybe we just start with why do you suppose some folks like myself earlier self like me might get a bit more serious and kind of heavy and closed off? I see Mazen is very licking his chop. So if you want to go first, let me know.

Dr. Mazen Harb: No, actually it's a deep topic. That's why I'm smiling. I'm like, I had two thoughts. The first one, whenever we want to do podcasts, it's always probably good to start talking about play and how we used to play. It just brings such a joy in this meeting, the three of us, and it really is passed on to our listeners. The second thing, what you just asked, it's such a deep topic and I'm like, oh my goodness, we're really diving in. And it was the opposite as what you thought. I was like, cool. I feel Krisana will start because she loves that topic. I didn't have anything coming up, just more really to enjoy, to hear the wisdom of been. I don't know. For me, I see her more as play know, opposed to master. But I want to make it feminine. So the playmistress, because I will share around it. So I give it to when Krisana created, she created many studios. One York meditation studios in Chile, in New York and in Berlin. So I only saw her in Berlin. And then one of those meditation where it was the Osho therapy meditation, meditative therapy, meditative therapies. And one of it, it's about laughing. What's called the child.

Krisana Locke: There's a different. The one being a child.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Yeah.

Krisana Locke: Not being a child. It's like going back into spontaneity.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Going back to spontaneity. And then I've seen her in action and it's really amazed me. And later on, when we started to do the workshops and treats for people, she always like, let us bring that. And I'm like, okay. And the moment we start, I can really see her. She really have access to that. Joyful, laughable. She start bursting out and I'm look, I'm like, how? Wow. She has super access to that. Very playful, very laughable, very to the point. I'm like, I'm shocked. I'm surprised. I'm like, wow, that's cool. Because my joy or my enjoyment is a bit less extrovert, I would say, than Krisana. But she has a capacity to bring it out and bring everything to a very joyful to bring that seriousness to break it. I break more seriousness through more teasing, jokes, and then more of a communication thing. But, yeah, that's what I feel I would like to say at this moment, to contribute to this conversation.

Mino Vlachos: I will ask Krisana two part question. Part one is, why do you believe people might like myself, might get a little bit more serious as they get older? And then how do you support people to tap that playfulness that we've been talking about?

Krisana Locke: Well, mind is very serious. Mind is always. Mind's like a computer, and it's looking to solve problems and playfulness, joy. Spontaneity is our birthright. So we came into this world full of life, full of spontaneity, full of wonder. And it's part of conditioning through society, through school, through families, where we start to feel as a child, oh, I'm loved, if I'm good, if I'm doing the right thing. So we start to close off from our innate wisdom, our innate qualities of spontaneity, of innocence, of wonder, of seeing life in a play. And to be in this spontaneity, to be in this moment to moment, to be in this oneness, joy. It's getting back into those qualities. So they're qualities that we all have, and we've forgotten that we have them. So the meditative therapy that was created, it's really that I would share a lot. It was a one week process, and it was a process Osho meditative therapy. And it was like being born again, really. That was the name to nothing religious. But it's like coming back into those qualities. So we can be focused, we can be clear, we can live life in a very aesthetic way, with clarity, with awareness. But we also want this juiciness, and we also want this lightness. And there's joy. So this meditative therapy is to support that, too. So we again come into these qualities. And so for one week, it's a two hour process. There's no talking. The first hour in a very safe room with no props, no, just some cushions and some mats. I guide it with for 1 hour is to move into everything that you wanted to do as a child that you weren't allowed to do without interfering with anybody else. So for that 1 hour, there's no just letting yourself play. And after 1 hour, then we sit in silence. So it's actually a meditative structure. And then you just sit in these innocent, childlike qualities after playfulness, and you just rest. And this is a process. So we remember again how joyful it is, how playful how you can come back into monetary to get out of our seriousness. And it's not about being good or trying to play, but just being in delight and another aspect or I think white easy for me. I grew up with so many brothers and sisters. I grew up a lot around fun and improvisation and interacting a lot and it also supported me. But through this process I did for myself many, many times. I started understanding I don't have to always play with other people. I also found out there was times where I just wanted to be my own self and enjoy cloud watching, creating things for myself. So to the question, it's when we try to be good, we try to be a certain way and we've lost our qualities, our spontaneity, to be joyful and alive, beautiful covered. Yeah.

Mino Vlachos: And I've experienced it firsthand, so I can say that it works. I went from someone that was really miserable and really stiff and really in the mind constantly to more and more opening up to my own playfulness, joy, enjoying life, which I think is beautiful in and of itself. I talked earlier about I used to not understand how to even be around kids because I was so stiff. And now I basically tap into that exercise when I'm with kids. So I just meet them where they're at and play and behave like would do as if my inner child is alive in the moment. So all of a sudden I'm really good with kids and playing with kids and it's very fun. So one thing that my earlier self might have thought right from the mind is, well, it's a very serious world, so I don't have time for all this fun and play. Okay. You say there's some positives like joy or feeling good, but it's again, a serious world. I'm here to do a task. So, Mazen, I have a question for you, which is we're going to talk about learning now. How would you explain the function of play and fun and curiosity on the function of learning? How does having fun enable us to learn?

Krisana Locke: That's a very good question.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Yeah, this is just magnificent because you're opening a door now, a door of. It's not about, I'm not going to be criticizing, I'm going to be commenting on the school system and the education we have that is really created in a way that all the learning is based on stress because of the exams grading system and this pressure that the kids have from parents, from teachers that we have to sit. And then intelligence means to be able to remember, I'm going to say something intelligence is not the ability of remembrance. The ability of remembrance is that we have an ability, a big capacity to remember. Intelligence is way bigger than that. There's emotional intelligence, there's physical intelligence, there's intellectual intelligence and way more other way. So intelligence is a misunderstood word. So the intelligence that is graded or we are examined pushed us to be more competitive. Hence, when we're competitive, we need this stress hormone to make us perform. When we do sports. This stress hormone with the adrenaline is really secreted in the body might system to allow us to be on our peak performance. So now when I bring that to kids before they start school, right, four or five depends each kids are in the now. They don't know anything but the now playful. Before five years of age, we start. I notice a lot with my nephew when he came to this world. He's around four and a half, five soon. They kept on teaching him time because it was important. But he didn't get it for him. He used the word tomorrow for yesterday. And then every time they tell him, Mazen is coming. And he's like, is he here? And he's, no, no, he's coming in a week. And he's like, he doesn't grasp the concept of time. And then he's like, yeah. And then, as if he didn't care. I thought he didn't care. But the moment I'm there, he's fully alive. So playfulness can only happen in the now. Can only happen in the moment. Kids knows it already. Kids know it already. We lost it by putting the concept of time and then being actually slave of time and competition. That created more stress. Stressful society, stressful interaction with parents and kids, stressful interaction with kids and teachers. And then kids between each other because they learn they have to be the best and they have to compete. Then the stress power start to be a big factor in learning. When we talk stressed, we talk later on when stress is more there that brings fear. Fear took over. So from five year old, six years old of age, fear start to seep in. Stress start to come in. The interesting thing is stress and then fear. The emotion that comes through fear are emotions. They are literally hormones that are secreted from the body and the brain. And actually it helps memory. So it is possible to learn through stress. As it's seen. I did lots of studies during my phd and after on learning and memory. Actually, that was the main topic. Now I see why you asked me the question. Okay, I got it. And then, actually, when I used to work with animals and later on, I work with humans. The way to make animals learn is I need to give them a stressor. Why? When we have an emotion, regardless which one, this emotion is flooded into the neurons in the brain. And then the moment we have that, we have a formation of a memory, the emotion creates a consolidation in the formation of the memory. But regardless the emotion, the biggest it is the incident or emotion it is, the biggest is the learning and the memory. Because the neurons will consolidate so much, because the brain will consider it as a survival thing. Something big has happened, understood through the emotions. So I need to remember it. So next time, I know how to adapt fast. So stress is one of the main important ways to learn, but also playfulness and joy. Because in playfulness, joy brings so much emotions and feelings. It's tremendously fun, but we're speaking about different. So you becoming around 20 or young adult, working, and you lost all the joy because you literally graduated from the school of life. That is stress and fear. Lots of schools now are changing the curriculum and evolving. So I would say the next 510 years. Lots of educators starts to acknowledge that and understand that the best way to help students to learn is through playfulness. But the answer is not only playfulness. I'll use the word curiosity. Curiosity is a blast for a child. We have it the moment we lose Luther in teenagerhood or in young adulthood or later on in adult, we start losing playfulness. And the moment we lose playfulness, we start to losing the joy. And then we become serious. So then we have to rely on something else to start to learn. And this is other emotion, which is the fear or the negative emotions. Negative, not as bad. There's no bad emotion, just the negative or positive emotions. Then we go toward the path of stress, high adrenaline, high intensity of things. And then, yes, we will learn. So I hope that covers a little bit the question you asked. Yes.

Mino Vlachos: Thank you. And we see this continuing. So we go from the school, I forget what you call it, the school of life of stress. And then we enter the workplace, which is also, many times, also runs on stress and operates on stress, especially the kind of corporate America model of working. And what we've noticed, I'll start with just us, is that we can incorporate fun and games into our work. So there's oftentimes within our company, three p coaching and solutions that we will play games. We sense it kind of if a meeting is very sluggish, slow, like something feels like it's not working. We'll incorporate online games like uno, connect, four things that help us find the joy of the moment, the joy of being with each other. And even if we play for 510 minutes, it can really transform a whole meeting. So in your just estimation, Krisana, if we think about our own meetings, what do you feel the impact of playing a quick game at the beginning of a meeting is on that meeting? Like, what do we do in that meeting?

Dr. Mazen Harb: Because we played the game.

Krisana Locke: What happens is we're not focused on what's going to happen in this meeting, what's the outcome that we have to have on this meeting. So immediately when we say, oh, let's play a game, it already sets a different tone. We're always, oh, there's no focus. It's fun. We're going to interact. Hey, I'm highly competitive, so coming from a big family with so many brothers and sisters, I can feel already who I love this, I love a bit of a challenge. So it's very refreshing. And for me, it just makes the start of a meeting a lot lighter and also a lot more connected with myself. And everyone is connected with each other. That's how I can see that's the impact for us on those meetings.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Yeah.

Mino Vlachos: And I tell folks a lot, is we usually spend the first five minutes of any meeting chitchatting anyways. Usually it's something about mundane, like kind of complaining about the weather or just doing little catch up about what happened during the weekend or what you will do in the next weekend. So even now, I'm connecting. It's all about time, right? It's about the past, it's about the future. Or complaining about something that's out of our control. And what we could do with that exact same time is pop up a quick game and enjoy and get to actually bond with one another. And so we've actually taken this a step further. And we, for the first time, actually played a game with our client in a brainstorming meeting last week. Or was it this week one recently time? I don't even know the construct of time anymore. So, mazen, you were in that meeting where we started, and then we ended up playing a game with our client. How do you feel like that meeting ended up going because of us breaking the pattern and going into a game?

Dr. Mazen Harb: I will do the forecast for how we were when we arrived. We always have a sense, a feeling when we arrive into meetings. We really think. Lots of people who really think, oh, it's psychic abilities. We always have a feeling when we come in a room. We always have a feeling when we come into a meeting. This feeling is really connected. This feeling is, how to say, shared with everyone. So most of the time people think or employees think, oh, it's only me, I'm stuck, or I feel, whatever. Actually, it's the meeting itself as well. So when we arrived into that meeting, there was a bit of sluggishness, there was a bit of tiredness. I was like, poof, I'm not going to enjoy that much. So I was like, what should I do? So I was in my head. And then we studied, like, actually, people were tired and things like this. And we know that we really enjoy the client and we enjoy ourselves. So we had a choice. We always had a choice. And then we said, let us start to do something. The idea is from a bit biological and psychological understanding of it. When we arrived, we were all not in the moment. We were all in the past or in the future, because it was at the end of the afternoon, at least for us, not for you, Mino. It was early morning, since you're New York and we are in Berlin. And so we were missing pressing. When we say childlike, people think, I don't want to be like a child. It's a childlike. It's childlike is something we have. It's to be in the moment, the moment we are in the moment, in the now. It's very playful and very joyful. Why? Because we're really present to what is needed. But since we were all tired, so we're always all in our head. We went into the game, the game stripped out time, stripped out all our past memories and experience, stripped out all our future worries. And then in that single moment of single moment, because it was like 10-15 minutes, where Krisana became very competitive.

Krisana Locke: In.

Dr. Mazen Harb: A fun way, you knew it's going to come, right? So we started to tease each other in a very fun way. We all were competitive in a healthy way. And it really activated this connection between the four of us. And suddenly everything stopped, other than the four of us being present. So presence happened. We were all in the now. Playfulness arose and that was it. That was it. And this is how children do, because they were never conditioned to use the mind in the way how adults use it, so they have a full access to it. And then us, we have to do some things to gain access. The moment we played, it brought, like I said, the belly was so relaxed. And then we're all like, joyous, kind of like just something. It feels good. We jumped into a meeting. My God, it was really very effective. There was the joy of meeting suddenly the joy of the tiredness is gone. Everybody felt there's meaning of all of that. There was belonging. I'm like words that it's not that important. It's like belonging to this moment, to this meeting. There was more commitment, focus, more creativity, more joy. And actually we discussed amazing things. We were creating some workshops. We achieved a successful meeting. And for me, that's the difference. We achieved a successful meeting. And normally we never use those words. Achieved a successful meeting where every meeting can be successful. Check every child play when they meet. Every meeting is a successful meeting. But check every adult. Every meeting is another meeting. The chance and the choice is within us.

Krisana Locke: But I'd like to say, if you calculated like, if I want a successful meeting, then I will put play before the meeting and we'll have a successful outcome. It doesn't work like that. It just means when the sensing, oh, what can we do in this moment when we're all a little bit sluggish. So to create a shift in the biological energetics and also in the psychological, if you want to call it energetics, so that we all come into the same rhythm and resonance. And then, of course, subjectively, it was already successful.

Dr. Mazen Harb: I just would like to add on that, because I like when we bounce and I were really working with each other last seven years. We activate like we see that's a creative forest. And imagine this is how our creative meetings are. Alone, I would achieve a certain amount. Alone, she will achieve a certain amount. When we start to play with that creativity, really achieve. We achieved a lot of fun, interesting and very needed things for when we work. Based on what you just said, actually, because it happened to us, I'll speak with our own experience with playfulness. We have not created a frame. There are meetings where we jump in and then we immediately jump and start speaking. There are meetings where we jump in, say, how are you? How was it? Okay, cool. And there are meetings, we jump in and we lose time. And we start half an hour speaking about a very personal topic. And why I'm saying this because actually, if we start to standardize it, we lose the moment, we lose the connection of now. We lose that. What we're speaking about playfulness, happen in the now. If we go knowing we should be doing that, the word should that comes from the mind. This is what kills curiosity and playfulness. So when we have shoulds in the way, how to meet things started to change and become very serious. Why? Because we are letting go the connection to the body, to the self. What is needed in the moment. And that's what is very important. And that's why children are constantly playful. So if you remember, guys, at the beginning, we did many times at the beginning, when we arrived, we did five minute meditation or seven minute silence, I don't know the last time we did five minute silence, but for like six months, it was really helpful for us. Then it shifted. Then it shifted. Now we're playing something else. We're doing something with, I don't know, some animal spirit, joyful, joyful thing. So it's always changing, but we're not giving. I like to call it the Bible of how to have a joyful life. The body will tell you, the body brain, the consciousness will tell you. What's in it is really to connect to the body, to the aliveness. And that aliveness will tell us within the frame of 1 hour of a meeting, knowing also we have responsibilities. So it's really calling upon our intelligence with a big eye.

Mino Vlachos: I was actually going to share pretty much the exact same thing, which is it's not to take a tool or a resource and then make a religion out of it or say, this is exactly what we're going to do every single time. So for us, I think we've listed now a few. We have certain resources that we can use depending on what's needed in the moment. So I'm happy you brought it up. One of them is meditation, which helps us bring our group into a similar resonance. As Krisana mentioned, we do have games that we can play online. We do have the animal spirits that we can play with. We can share the emotions or a personal thing. There's all kinds of things we can use in the moment. And sometimes we show up and we're already in resonance, so we don't need anything and we can just dive right into a meeting. So it's really about checking what is actually needed. And then we have such a variety of incredible tools we can use. And there's sometimes where we show up to a meeting. It's not often, but we actually show up. We check in and we cancel the meeting on the spot because we're not in a place to have the meeting. Right. And so not being so attached to it has to happen a certain way. But rather, if we want the successful outcome, we might need to do a nonlinear move to get to what we want and really not going into hyperstructure. Hyper. This is the way it has to go. So, okay, now we talked about work. Now I want to talk about life. And sometimes life has challenges so I'm actually going to take us to the birthplace of Mazen, which is a beautiful country called going to. I'm throwing a lot at you. So Mazen always tells me, and it wasn't until I visited that it really sunk in, that Lebanon is one of the places that has probably experienced everything and anything you can experience in the world. It's a bit of like the testing ground for every crisis one could imagine. So, I mean, I could probably take 20 minutes just to list the crises they've been through in the last ten years. But we're talking about things from economic crisis where there's hyperinflation, there's political crisis, where the government fell apart, gasoline shortages. They, of course, went through Covid just like the rest of the world. They experienced a blast in their port that devastated the port where they have imports, exports. There's war. So there's kind of continuous skirmishes on their southern border. So across the board you can look and say that's a country that is playing and testing all the crises. And so when we went and visited, we also, and we'll get to that in a second, experienced some of that ourselves. But what jumped out to me is there was one time I had a call with Krasana, and you were in Lebanon. You've done a lot of work in Lebanon. And you were there, I think, while the coronavirus and there was lockdowns. And I remember you telling me that in the lebanese culture there's something around kind of going to somewhere like a family home and playing games with the family. So what have you seen in terms of the kind of lebanese culture and how games and fun can be a resource for folks in moments of heightened stress?

Krisana Locke: That's a question to me.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Yes, that's a question to you. And I'm so happy it started with me and it moved to you because actually that's the order of know because I'm very connected to that collective field and I'm like, I need to breathe, take a moment ground. So I'm happy that Kristana begins and I share from experience a little bit later once the conversation goes on.

Krisana Locke: What I discovered in Lebanon, beautiful people. And what I really discovered is they have so many social connections and social groups, and this is such a great support because this is the way they support themselves. When you go through so many crisis and setbacks, this is the resilience of having a lot of social support and people around you. And I also know that the extended family is a very healthy support. And inside of that, there's social groups and there's lots of games, there's lots of meeting, there's lots of play. There's also wanting to have a good time. Even in all the setbacks, the only time I do see when their stress levels really go up is when there's sickness in their own internal family system, because that is really the core. If things are going on outside, they have to deal with it. With all these events, these traumatic and heavy events that have occurred in this country. They have gone through it, but they know with their resilience how to bounce back from setbacks. But that's because their core family structure is intact. When someone's sick inside the family, this is when the nervous system can fall down a bit. But they do have support. They love to have games. They love to meet. They love to go out and meet for food and dinner. And they're very passionate about life because when you see so much like this is happening, you are passionate to look at life in a different way. But there's still life happening. That's just my sharing about it.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Thank you.

Mino Vlachos: So now we go to the insider. What have you noticed, Mazan?

Dr. Mazen Harb: I just noticed that my smile is lesser. I was like, yeah, because we use the word seriousness and playfulness and I see myself more in silent and really listening. Yeah. I'm not going to psychoanalyze myself, but just. It's interesting because it's a very touching and important topic. In a way, I would like to say that I was fortunate to come from a place that is unfortunate sometimes because I got to learn and understand and experience the power of the social structure. Structure how it can be very supportive to your nervous system and to the feeling, safety and certainty within incidents upon incidents of crisis and war and whatnot. So the experience I gained, for me, it's equals to many lifetimes sometimes. That's the experience. So when I was 19 and I left Lebanon to France, and I was like, you don't know yourself until you meet the others. And I realized, okay, actually I've seen many wars, I've seen many things, but actually that made me more playful, more resourceful, more very much grateful. And that's the thing. It's the gratitude really has risen within me because send life and death, you see that not everything is given. And then you really start to value and see life from an angle of perspective. For me, it's amazing, yet it's very stressful, yet it's very fearful, yet you struggle, yet you suffer. But I got to learn, or I had to go and learn how to get out of suffering, to start to understand and value what's here, what's all those experiences, what I gained, what I learned.

Mino Vlachos: So I'm going to take it upon myself to share a little bit about our experience last fall. So we're recording this in March 1 of 2024. But in October of 2023, the three of us were in Lebanon to share work for 3Peak Coaching and Solutions. So we were there doing like a CEO seminar, and then we did a beautiful kind of workshop with some other industry leaders. And so we were visiting Mazan's family in the mountains. And we woke up on October 7, like much of the world, and learned about the events that were occurring just a few kilometers, a few miles away between Israel and Palestine. And what was fascinating to me, this is the first time that I have been near a conflict zone, is how much the three of us were able to resource each other and keep each other feeling a sense of security and safety. And I noticed people around me kind of had a choice, and some of them went into a stress response, some of them less so. So it depended on different factors. And as the week went on, these kind of stressful news events would happen or stressful occasions. We'd have people again acting in different ways while we were doing our work. What struck me in that period of time was how much we actually relied on play fun games and comedy to almost balance out or offset some of the heaviness of that moment. So it's a period of time where almost more than any other time, I was watching every night, comedy shows, comedy movies. For the first time in a while, I was watching Seinfeld on tv. So it was like, I don't even really like Seinfeld. There's something maybe about being back in New York where I live, and the comedy we were watching, like, Borat, and we watched another Sasha Barracoen movie. So there was something about watching these comedy movies together that really was, for me, the resource, the support outside of us, connecting and talking and sharing our emotions, the three of us, and being able to connect with a couple people back in the US who are sharing nice pictures of our dog, for instance, or nice things to also, again, offset some of that heaviness and stress that was around us at the time. So I walked away from that experience really for the first time, understanding and recognizing the vital importance of some of these resources in moments of stress. Again, I was kind of somewhat a more serious person. So I was like, well, if the environment is serious, I need to be serious too. And what this experience taught me is that the more serious it gets, the more fun and play are needed. It is not because we don't care. It is not because we're not tuned in. It is not because we don't want to have compassion for others. It's actually because when we meet in these moments of joy and play, we help regulate our system. We give something to offset. Also, of course, things like I was sleeping way more than I usually do while I was in Lebanon. So sometimes 9-11 hours. I think it was just the body finding a way to regulate itself and to find a way through this experience.

Dr. Mazen Harb: And this is something that I have.

Mino Vlachos: Not, I guess, personally observed with myself. But it's something that I've gotten reflected back from others. That since coming back to the US, from that event, people have actually told me that I've changed, that I've become much more calm and much more. I don't react to events as much, which is, again, not something, to be honest, I'm even that conscious of. But some folks and my friends and family have noticed this shift in me from this experience. And the last thing I'll add is when I landed back in New York. I've lived in New York 14-15 years now. And there's always some piece in my back of my mind from all the news media. This kind of propaganda, it's like, it's unsafe. It's unsafe. There's no safety in New York. And man, I have to say, landing back in New York after being in this experience, I was like, I am in the safest place in the, like I could not be in a safer, like I know, walking down the street that there will be no bombs, like landing down on me. I'm so blessed. I am so blessed. So that gratitude was also there. So that was really something I wanted to add in, is that in these moments of kind of, I don't know what, again, what to call it, like stress that play and fun and games, they can be some of our most important resources. So with that, I want to shift and kind of move to potentially a more light energy. So if we go back to resourcing and I'll begin with Krasana. So how can we use play and fun and games to resource ourselves, to support ourselves.

Krisana Locke: Play and fun as a resource? Because we've all had the times in our life when we remember when we're playful and when we're having fun. And in this way, the nervous system, the body knows everything's fine, I'm safe. Everything's okay. I can enjoy. So that's one thing. So the body knows a sense through play. It can self regulate. It's a way to support coming out of seriousness. So this is how play and having fun can be a resource. If you're with some friends and you want to use a resource of play or fun, first of all, one has to ask, what does everyone feel like doing? Because maybe not everyone wants to be on the same fun game. So just to see what everyone feels like doing, some might want to play, some might want to go and walk by themselves. So it's really, first of all, sensing in how is everyone feeling? What does people want to do? There's no forced play. There's no forced. We must do fun. But I do know for myself, when I have been working with people, a lot of people in experiential work.

Dr. Mazen Harb: It.

Krisana Locke: Is nice for me to go out and maybe sometimes watch a comedy or even when I'm outside and I see kids playing. I just love it. It's just so alive and so. It's so spontaneous. So I always say to people, even if people have forgotten, they say they don't know what to play or they don't know how to have fun. I often ask people, what are they curious about? What are they curious to explore? What made you curious when you were young? What gave you a sense of playfulness? And then this gives an indication of what you can bring back into your life or you have to discover. So being playful can be a resource for you. But you cannot tell people you must be playful because for some people, playfulness, they need to feel if they're safe first or there's different stress responses. But to lighten up just when there's humor. Humor is wonderful in times of crisis. I mean, I even know I've been in some situations. I've been in many in all my adventures of traveling for many, many years. I'm in some eventful situations. And it's really good to have some humor because there's also the absurdities of life and, like, humor can really help. Not that I'm looking for it, but it just happens. That's my take on it in this moment.

Mino Vlachos: If you think about your life right now, what brings you a sense of play and fun in your life right now? Korsana?

Dr. Mazen Harb: I feel I want to answer for her answer then, but I wouldn't do it.

Krisana Locke: No, you can.

Dr. Mazen Harb: No play.

Krisana Locke: Laughing, having fun. Laughing. Connecting with my brothers and sisters because we're very humorous together. I don't know. I have this thing with cats at the moment.

Dr. Mazen Harb: You do?

Krisana Locke: Definitely.

Dr. Mazen Harb: There are lots of meowing in the house.

Krisana Locke: I. Yeah, this brings me fun, having a light time with friends, you know, enjoying. Wow, that's a really. It's not a difficult question because I do know the experience of having fun. I do know what I like to do. Even cycling on my bike here in Berlin, things are really fun to see. So I enjoy also this. So I don't go out to have fun. It's a quality. It's a quality inside.

Dr. Mazen Harb: For me, I wanted to answer, knowing her, knowing her routines, rituals, whatever you want to call them, but we all have ways. And waking up in the morning, and I know she very enjoys going and bringing the sun up. All right. Like, when the sun up, she goes and she welcomes the sun, she goes where? Welcomes the rivers, and then she's at the birds. And then I know that what gives her the most joy is we have in Berlin, believe it or not, in really a canal that is really, the water doesn't flow. But we have so many swans, and this is a lot of the season and you see lots of baby swans. It's just really beautiful in a really unexpected place in the city. So, yeah, I see for me what my feeling, my perception of Kristena is, her connection to the element of nature. Everything, if I really have more time to every morning sit with her, and she would tell me about the leaves, how they're falling and how amazing this, for me, it's not that playful to listen. Probably being in a male body, I don't know, I'm stereotyping a bit or probably just, I don't like to speak in the morning at all. But really her most fun I see, and this is where, when I see her, something she's not happy is when she miss out on saying hi to all the nature, the first part of the day. This is what I saw in you all those years, also living together. For me, that's it. If I allow myself to answer on that.

Krisana Locke: Gives me great to meet the morning. I love it.

Mino Vlachos: What about you, Mazen? What brings you fun today? These days.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Myself, it's something I rely on opposite to. When I was a kid, I used to rely on outside sources of fun and joy because I couldn't have access to my inner joy and inner fun. I really enjoy my beingness. I really enjoy being by myself. I really enjoy my morning, not speaking actually opposite to her morning. So I really enjoy taking my time. I really enjoy stretching the morning. I really enjoy sitting in silence and not knowing. Having a really structured program that gives me tremendous amount of joy and believe it, playful. If you see it on the outside, you wouldn't see me playful, but inside is very playful because I'm really in the moment in those times. And then, yeah, meeting friends is not necessarily as playful as when I was younger, because actually I'm going to be super honest now. Whenever I meet friends and family, most of the time I met with the mind of the past or the future, or with a projection image of who I am, then sometimes I'm sad or disappointed and have expectation from them. So now I drop that expectation. So when I meet with them, I'm like, I love them as they are and I really then have fun. But before that, I used to struggle because everybody perceive you and the environment based on the past and based on the emotions that they are in. And I really love to be met. So the most playful thing is that I'm met, the most sure thing I can meet myself. So I'm like, that's very good. The next one on the list is Krisana. So when she meets me, I feel very playful and joyful. When sometimes, for whatever reason, she cannot meet me or I cannot meet her, then I feel like, okay, then I move on aside. Because if we meet in the moment, every joyous and playful. So that's it. So moments where I cannot meet with others, I don't hang out much. The good thing, animals, trees, nature, kids, they're always in the moment, so they're always meeting you and they're never projecting. They see you as you are, who you are, they see reality as it is right now. So it's always, always playful. So it brings a smile when I see a dog on the street, or they look at you and I look at them and just, yeah, I play my own games. They're very subtle, but gives me lots of joy. Yeah, that's it for me.

Krisana Locke: And I just like to add, I go out even in winter, in the mornings, the winter here in Berlin, so it's not some summer thing. I just really enjoy going outside in all the seasons, all the colors. And mino, what brings you fun and play? I would like to hear for you.

Mino Vlachos: Probably some mix between the two of you in the morning. I am not a friendly. I really. My most joyful day is the mornings where I have nothing. It's just ultimate leisure, able to kind of come into my body, to allow the senses to awaken, to allow this. Like, it takes me an hour or two to really come into my own and for all the systems to turn on. And then I'm really ready to meet the day. And I love having a blank canvas for a day that to me, is like that. It fills me with that childlike wonder. And I think of this Calvin and Hobbes comic strip where I don't know if you're familiar, but it's like the boy and the kind of pet tiger. And it's the last strip that Bill Waterson ever drew. So it's the conclusion of the series after many years. And in the strip it says, I love this one so much, it's just snowed. So they wake up and it's a snow day, and everything is blanketed in snow. And so they ask each other, like, what are we going to do today?

Dr. Mazen Harb: And it's just like, let's go exploring.

Mino Vlachos: And it's just this beautiful white canvas. And that's the end of the comic when he ended it. And that feeling of like, let's just go exploring. And often what I find myself doing in New York on those days, as much as I'd like to believe, like, it's an infinite kind of adventure, what I gravitate to again and again is there are ferry boats in New York that take you between the boroughs. And I love riding the ferry boats. I think it connects me to my childhood in I love. I don't care if it's, like, freezing, I don't care if it's sunny. I will sit out for hours and just ride the ferry boats and just seeing the city and enjoying the wind and the water and the smell and it's something that just. Yeah, that's my absolute favorite day. So once in a while, when I really have that blank canvas, I treat myself to a day on the ferry boats.

Dr. Mazen Harb: So that is me.

Krisana Locke: Beautiful. I'd like to also add. Some listeners might think, oh, okay, you have time to do this because maybe you do this in the morning, but also when I have work, I have schedules, I have meetings, or we're doing working with clients, I will also factor in, okay, if we have to start at 09:00 in the morning, then I'll get up earlier because I really want to have that time for myself. I don't have. Oh, no, what do I give up? I guess this is part of what we talk about self leadership or in a care, and it's like, okay, I'll just get up early. It's just such a joy. It's just to really meet myself in these times with fun and creativity and exploration and play. It's not something one can't have everyone have. It's just where you can have choices for everything and how you can put them in and what are priorities first for yourself.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Thank you. Actually I felt after you're both sharing, I felt for some listener it might be the dry experience of playfulness and it might not be understood. So I'll give also another that I also have another part of me that enjoys what life offers. So I would like to speak about briefly certain things I do in the morning, at least every second day, sometimes every day. But I do my language learning and this is actually an invitation for everyone who are stuck in their life or even who are not stuck. The moment we give something for the brain to learn, bring curiosity. This is very resourceful in a tremendous way. I can speak about it for hours, but actually I would rather that you go and then experience it yourselves. I do only like about ten minutes of Germany. I've been living here since ever. But I'm the student of life for german language because I never really mastered it and I always learning. But actually I think I did it in a way that gave me joy because I'm always a student where on other aspects of things there's not much learning for me. Certain things I share or I work with. And lately also I decided to do another language. And then. So I juggle between two languages, either listening or reading. And it gives me tremendous. It's ten minutes, that's it. And then it activates this curiosity in me and bam. Directly. I'm in such a joyous state when I'm stressed or when I have a fast day. I cannot. I really have to have a bit more space in order to do such a thing. So it's very specific. That's 1 second actually on a more physical plane. I love to use my hand and my scientific understanding and my love for cacao and the kitchen. So actually I forgot this one. I cook. I cook a lot. And in the house here we creating. We have our own lab, as Kristen loves to say it, we have excel sheets. Since COVID time we just jumped into it. We do like chocolate, dark chocolate. All healthy, sustainable, without Sugar, with another alternative sweetener. So that's again. Now I'm getting excited. If I don't have work to do now, I can sit in the lab, in the kitchen and I can cook for the next three, four months. There are things we have the raw material. So anytime and even anytime Kristana see me, I'm in the kitchen. She knows that actually I'm in my zone, I'm in the flow. You might see me as Kristana get to use to me. When you look at my face, you might see me like this turn very bit like he's serious. But actually there's a lot to juggle. And coming from having a background in science, you have to pipette, you have to put the right percentage of things. It's all calculated, everything started intuitively. But once experiencing it again and again and trying it, we finally had formulas and we was improving them. So we have excel sheets and that bring me a tremendous amount of joy. And you know why? And that's the thing that connects me a lot to my physical body and to earth. Because once I do it, I put it in the fridge, I wait a little bit. I see, very good. Oh, look what we did. It's very tangible, it's always successful and it's not project successful in a year or like something with money and money will come in the morning I wake up, I come with Krisana, I tell her what I did and we go and do tasting. She's my best, so. And only at this moment, no, but just she's everything I cannot taste. You are very subjective to what you created. So Kristana goes, tastes, she tells me what's wrong, what's needed, what's not. And that's so joyous and that's very playful between us. And imagine you're constantly eating chocolate to taste to the point she's like, oh my God, that's too much. As a kid she used to see those tasters eating a little bit chocolate. You say, how can they only eat this? They should have eaten it all. But now with me, I'm like, eat this, eat that. And she's like, mazan, I'm saturated. You got the answers. I'm like, yeah, okay, it's fine. So that bring lots of aliveness and lots of joy. Actually that's the highest amount of playfulness I can have with the physicality of the elements around me.

Krisana Locke: Yeah, a lot of play and creativity.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Nice.

Mino Vlachos: So on that high we say auf wiedersehen.

Krisana Locke: Ciao.

Mino Vlachos: Thank you for the beautiful experience and we will talk to you all soon.

Dr. Mazen Harb: Thank you, thank you.