No, Lego did not pay me to make this post.
When I was young, I had the usual Barbies and dolls with pretty dresses, the make believe pots and pans and stoves, and the fairy-tale books that told me about the lives of princesses pre-reality. Nobody told me that there were no real Barbies unless a plastic surgeon managed to stretch a girl six feet tall and give her enough boobs to break her back. Nobody told me that cooking was more than pushing a piece of meat from one end of the skillet to the other. And nobody told me that fairy-tales came true only in the movies.
Cynicism aside, I still believe that one of my favorite toys can bring me back to that time of childhood when I had fun playing and pretending. Lego was one of my absolute favorites.
I could spend entire afternoons designing my dream house, and then peopling it with men (I didn't have any Lego women). I even stayed up way past my bedtime to build impossibly high blue, red, and yellow buildings with glassless windows that had green shutters on them. I defied the laws of physics by balancing window frames on make-believe verandas for lack of an arbor. I followed directions on making a gasoline station out of a few blocks, and ended up making a drive-through restaurant complete with a giant chicken (which came from my play-cooking set, and which, if actually drawn to scale, could feed legions of Lego men armies for days).
Now, it's your turn.
If you've never played with Lego blocks, it's never too late. You can buy them from your nearest toy store. Start with basic blocks, or kits; you might want to steer clear of the special editions first until you've gotten used to the basic red, blue, and yellow ones. This way, you can be creative without a leaflet of directions telling you that the dinosaur head should go on the long block, or the turrets should go atop the tower lest it go smashing into the battlements.
If you've played with Lego blocks before, and if you still have them, then lucky you! Take the box out! If you're lucky enough, take the boxes out! Start building! You don't have to make a mansion or a sophisticated airport. You can simply make a cube, a little house, a cottage, a make-believe airplane, a submarine (with glassless windows and green shutters, no less!). From your humble beginnings, you can go on to make subdivisions, government offices, school houses, and a university. Talk about graduation!
You don't have to spend hours and hours designing your Lego buildings, and neither do you have to spend thousands of bucks to get the best Lego builders' kits. All you need is to work with a little, start small, and let your imagination go. Don't think that anyone is grading you or paying you to make the next big Lego miracle.
Just sit down with your Lego blocks.
Don't think too much.
After all, this is what this exercise is for: letting your brain rest.
More tips for getting the most out of your Lego experience:
1) Have a Lego day at the office! Suggest a team building lunch, where teams build their perfect office using just Lego blocks.
2) Have a Lego afternoon with your kids, or with your kid brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, or cousins. Don't compete with the kids - just unwind.
3) Have a Lego block set instead of a little sand box on your desk at the office.
Studies show that people who play with Lego blocks tend to be more creative. Just kidding.
Whether there really are any studies on Lego blocks shouldn't matter to you. All you need is to build, and even have a few Lego men to talk to when the stress gets too tough.
When they start talking back, however...