This week’s focus is an extension of last week’s focus – the opposite of play is NOT work … it’s depression.
As I’ve continued to read Stuart Brown’s book, Play, I’ve continued to highlight, think, marinate, and hopefully implement and share a few takeaways so that others can do the same.
The second half of the book doesn’t just lay out the reason for play, it dives deeper into WHY we, as adults, have lost it and HOW we can get it back.
Last week I asked the question – at what point in our life do we start feeling guilty about taking a break?
This week I’ll take the question one step further and ask – how do YOU feel when you see someone who enjoys their work? What assumptions do you make about how someone else feels when you enjoy yours?
When you see someone who is playful at work is it a sign that they aren’t working very hard? Do they not have enough to do? Are they getting paid to goof off? Are you insulted, envious and bitter that they must not have the responsibilities and pressure to perform that you do?
If they were serious about their work, they’d be serious.
I was previously in a job that I hated and these were my exact thoughts. I judged every person that didn’t seem to share my same self-induced misery.
I was experiencing the crisis of the soul that comes from pouring every moment of time and every ounce of available energy into trying to satisfy our own expectations and the expectations that we think others must have of us.
In our society play and work have been pitted against one another, when in reality, they are mutually supportive. Play and work are the timbers that keep our house from collapsing.
We need the flow, the discovery, the feeling of “the moment”, and the liveliness that play provides. We need the sense of purpose, the financial stability, and the knowing that what we are doing is valuable that work provides.
We don’t have to become irresponsible or walk away from our job or our family to remember what it truly feels like to play. But when we lack the feeling of lightness in what we do it should be taken as a major warning sign.
…okay ….what now…
The body remembers what the mind has forgotten.
Movement is one of the first pieces of our own development and it can be the first step we take to return to play.
The dreaded job I mentioned started to turn when I began taking breaks to walk around the building. It became tolerable when a few coworkers and I started making plans to play catch at lunch. I found myself becoming a better problem solver, more collaborative and a much greater asset to my team when Friday’s became our day to eat together. I wrung out every hour of vacation, requested more, and was GRANTED MORE because my boss and I both recognized that the recharge yielded much greater return than the burnout.
I lasted a year and a half longer than I ever thought at this company. By the time I left I had built respect, rapport, momentum, and had alas! discovered a route much more profitable than “head down and grind.”
Play is how we are made, how we develop and adjust to change. It can foster innovation and lead to multibillion-dollar fortunes. But in the end, the most significant aspect of play is that it allows us to express our joy and connect most deeply with the best in ourselves, and in others.
If your life has become barren, play brings it to life again.
Let the feeling of play be your guiding star, and you will certainly find a true and successful course through life.