The Thai word for fun is ‘sanuk’ (สนุก). In Thai culture this has a much broader and far reaching meaning than in English culture. It expresses the sense of finding or creating fun/satisfaction in any situation or task.
In this picture, for example, the men are trying to unscrew the pipe. They turned it into a game by trying to find the most inventive form of leverage, laughing all the while.
I was reminded of this Thai perspective when I went to a recent Applied Improvisation Network workshop in London.
We had the task of improvising a game to solve a particular workplace problem. Our group was tackling poor levels of cleanliness in a coffee shop. Cleaning-what a tiresome job. Not so! We devised a game using different noises to represent different cleaning jobs, and a noise to celebrate when the cleaning was completed. So, someone spots a table needs cleaning, makes the table cleaning noise and whoever is free or nearest does it, repeats the noise when it’s done, and then everyone makes the celebrating noise.
The result was a noisy, fast moving game with a sense of group achievement – and lots of laughing! This really encapsulates sanuk – you can find fun/satisfaction even from cleaning.
This workshop also made me realise that the flow of ideas is easier if you are looking at the task/problem from a gameplaying point of view. So what challenges can you turn into a game?