If it feels like you have less leisure time and fewer unstructured “play” hours in your life, you’re not alone. Play seems to be the first thing to go when our lives get busy. I hear more and more people exclaim, “Play! Are you kidding, where will I find time for play?”
The truth is our high tech life with its accelerated pace has fostered a culture that seems to be always working, always rushed, and always connected. With cell phones interrupting the theater, laptop computers at the beach, internet connections at every other café, and home offices that beckon us all hours of the night and day, it’s hard to separate “play” from “work.” Yet to maintain balance in our lives, and for our ultimate wellbeing, play is important. Play is supposed to be joyful rather than a task, allowing the experience to unfold, sounds good doesn’t it!
The highest level of play has a component of openness and spontaneity to it, like setting out on an adventure. Lenore Terr, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of Beyond Love and Work: Why Adults Need to Play, argues that play is crucial at every stage of life.
In play, we discover pleasure, cultivate feelings of accomplishment, and acquire a sense of belonging. When we play, we learn and mature and find an outlet for stress.
“Play is a lost key,” Terr writes. “It unlocks the door to ourselves.”
I am excited to be taking a few days to visit family in Seattle next week, my great-nephew’s one-year birthday. A time to getaway and connect with family and longtime friends, and to play with this precious little boy. As it gets closer and my business demands have increased, I began to feel some stress creeping in. You know how it goes: I found myself working extra hours over the weekend to get a solid foundation for the week; the question began bouncing around in my head, “How am I going to get everything in place before I leave?” This is not the energy or experience I want to create from in my personal life or business; it indicated time for a state change. I got up from my desk and took my dog for a walk. The gentle breeze, sunshine and movement were all I needed. I found flowers to rekindle my sense of awe, playful sounds of children at the park, laughter coming from the house I passed by, I immediately felt back on track. Outlined in chalk directly in front of me on the sidewalk was hopscotch, with two little girls standing nearby. I smiled at them and jumped right in, I was taken back to my younger days when hopscotch was essential play in everyday.
When we are completely involved in play, our cares and worries disappear. Sailing, playing a game of tennis, or being thoroughly engrossed in a good novel, we feel pleasurably alive and light-hearted. There is nothing like play that allows us to be present in the moment, and refresh the path for the day. Bring in play when you feel stuck in a project or overwhelmed with a task, it will reignite your creativity.
If you feel like you don’t have enough time to play in your life (and who doesn’t?), try these suggestions:
- Turn-off. Turn off the television, computer, beeper and cell phone for at least two hours a day.
- Let your mind wander. Recall what you used to enjoy doing or what you always wanted to do before we became so technology-oriented.
- Think physical. Go for a walk, ride your bike, break out the croquet set from the basement, go for a swim or a run.
- Pretend. Pretend you don’t have any cares or worries. Pretend you have all the time in the world to laugh and play and enjoy. Pretend there is no moment other than this.
Play is essential to a happy life and thriving business.
Any time you have the choice of whether to work “just one more hour” or give yourself over to play, consider what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” How about adding play to your day? Say yes, right now!
Love and blessings,