Your first response to the title of this post might be something like: “Are you kidding? With all the work I have to do? My list is a mile long!” The question still stands. You’re not going to do quality work without plenty of time to play. Of course, the ideal thing is when your work and play line up, and you spend your time doing what you love best.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
Even when that’s the case, it’s still important to take breaks to rest and recharge, to get re-inspired for the next phase of your work. Creativity isn’t just something that you turn on and it goes endlessly forward, like the Energizer Bunny. There are cycles involved. Haven’t you noticed how sometimes you’re super productive, while on other days you can’t seem to get out of your own tracks? There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s natural to need some down time, even in the middle of a big project. When you work with your natural rhythms instead of resisting them, you’ll find you’re more productive overall.
Play is a key part of this cycle. It’s vital to living a happy and healthy life. Why?
You’re going to come to a problem or challenge in your work or life. You can’t always force yourself to keep pushing until you find a solution. When you walk away for a while and do something fun, your brain is still humming along in the background, working on the issue. Often the best solution will come to you seemingly out of the blue, in a flash of intuition. You’ve gotten your conscious mind out of the way, and let your deeper self tune in to what’s going on. Through play, you’ve also provided yourself with new stimuli, which can bring inspiration.
Playing helps you relax and not take things so seriously. When we take every little thing to heart, stressing out over what are mostly minor details in the scheme of things, we add stress to our lives. Stress, when it becomes a daily part of your experience, can build up and cause or contribute to chronic illness. That certainly won’t feel good, or help you accomplish your goals.
Cultivating a playful attitude also lifts your spirits and brings up your energy vibes. When you’re working with consciously manifesting your dreams, this is a great way to stay on track. Allowing yourself to play brings more joy into your everyday experience. When you’re already having fun, you won’t be so attached to achieving certain goals, which paradoxically can allow them to flow your way more quickly.
You still want to get there, but you’re not deferring your happiness until you arrive. Danielle LaPorte calls this “relaxed determination.”
Playfulness and creativity go hand in hand. If you’re “just playing,” you’re tuned in more to the process than the results. This lack of expectations gives you more freedom to try new things, take risks, and step outside your usual habits. If your work is creative, try playing in a different medium. If I’m working on a writing project and I get stuck, I find that playing my drum or doing some doodling in my art journal will often help free up my energies and create space for inspiration.
Each of us has different ideas about what “play time” involves. For adults in our culture, it’s often assumed that when we play, we go out for drinks and dinner with our friends, watch a sports match or movie, or spend time at the beach. Those things may or may not resonate with you. Have play time on your terms! You might want to play Dungeons & Dragons with friends, learn to juggle, take a long walk with your dog, make up a new recipe, or dress up like a faery princess. Play for you might even look like cleaning out a closet or waxing your car.
If it feels good, relaxes you, and feels like a special treat, go for it!
Play is a personal thing. We’re all different. BlackLion finds video games relaxing, while for me, playing them feels like a form of torture. I love to curl up with a big thick book, but others would consider that a horrible homework assignment. Find the activities that make your play time feel amazing. Then make it happen. If you don’t have time to play today, put it in your calendar for tomorrow, or the weekend.
Play is good for you. Like exercise and vegetables, make sure you’re getting enough play time.