Monthly Meeting Recap: March (with Anouska Cekalovic)

The Playful University Club’s March Monthly Meeting was hosted by life coach Anouska Cekalovic! She works with clients to help them celebrate life and have a joyful attitude, and has been a key member of the Playful University Club since its beginning. Anouska took us on a “Journey to Joy”, a session packed full of activities where we were invited to reflect on and share our own experiences of what it means to be playful, and how we can bring more joy into our lives.  

 Those who arrived early to the session were invited to take a seat on the floor and bite down on a pen – this definitely helped open our minds and shake off any anxieties! The session began with some yoga-like movement, where we shifted our weight around and tried to find good posture. We explored how positive and negative emotions affect our bodies, as well as how we can instantly increase our confidence through our stance.  

 We then sat back down and were invited to think about our positive and negative experiences. What made them different, and what did we learn from them? Anouska reminded us that we must make the choice to experience life with joy – in her words, “it doesn’t matter what happens, will do it with a smile on my face! 

Anouska asked us to make a “Caring list”, of things we do for ourselves when we’re feeling good, then things we do when we’re not. Discussing our answers, we all noticed some trends: on the “good” list, moving forward and making progress in life, and on the “bad” list, retreating from the world, not making life better for ourselves. She then asked us to do one thing on the “good” list – three different people went to get chocolate! 

But what about the things which prevent us from experiencing joy? Are they really an obstacle? We were asked to think about the negative self-talk that we hear from others and tell ourselves. This led to a fascinating discussion about our beliefs and judgements about play and playfulness, as well as the cultural expectations in our various countries which prevent us from playing. As we each voiced our concerns that playfulness isn’t given nearly enough importance, Anouska reminded us that we can value seriousness whilst still feeling love & connectionWe often make assumptions about what we can and can’t do and we must allow ourselves to be joyful, playful and kind, even in stressful situations. 

The March Monthly Meeting showed us Anouska Cekalovic’s refreshing approach to playfulness and joy, and inspired us all to reflect on what we truly enjoy in life – definitely a worthwhile pursuit! Thank you Anouska, for delivering such a warm and engaging session. We’ve learnt lots, and hope to continue our “Journey to Joy” in the future! 

Here’s what participants had to say… 

“It really got me thinking about how important playfulness is in both my life and my working practice” 

“It prompted me to think about my experience of playfulness in a way I hadn’t before” 

The Playful University Club aims to promote a culture that can foster play within the University by creating capacity for awareness, uptake, and exposure of play and playful learning. Ultimately, we aim to make the University of Exeter a place where learning is created and nurtured through joy, engagement and play, where learning to solve problems and overcome obstacles is a reward in its own right. The club hosts several activities each month including games nights and guest speakers. It is open to all University staff and Students and is a wonderful opportunity to support a compassionate community using play. If this is a YES for you, please email Maarten Koeners:

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