Play is serious business. This may sound paradoxical, and it is, in so much as something which comes so naturally to animals of all kinds, and is so much fun, is so vital. Play is a banquet for the brain and a smorgasbord for the senses. Play provides nourishment for mind, body and spirit, which is why it’s so sad that, as a society we are starving ourselves of it.
What do you do on a regular basis for fun? When did you last go on a swing, build a sandcastle or have a good dress up? Many adults have the mindset that they are too old to be playful when there is actually solid evidence that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Play may be the very thing that keeps you young and healthy. In fact, studies show that a life lived without play is at increased risk for stress-related diseases, mental health issues, obesity, addiction and interpersonal violence. We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.
“This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realise it is play.”
― Alan Watts
The conventional mind is passive – it consumes information and regurgitates it in familiar forms. The creative mind is active, transforming everything it digests into something new and original, creating instead of consuming. We are all (as ONE) collectively experiencing the shift in thinking and acting from a conventional, purely physical, left-brained way of thinking to recognising the connections that create the physical. As more and more people awaken and discover that there’s more to life than the top layer that they’ve been responding to for years – we are seeing a period of time where we need to become adaptable. We can achieve this when we remember how to play.
We are all in search of feeling more connected. Our culture increasingly tends to separate us from the natural world, our character, and our own uniqueness. We indulge in drugs or alcohol, engage in dangerous sports or risky behaviour, just to wake ourselves from the slumber of our daily existence and feel a heightened sense of connection to reality. In the end, however, the most satisfying and powerful way to feel this connection is through creative activity, or play. Engaged in the creative process we feel more alive than ever because we are making something and not merely consuming.
“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play”
― John Cleese
In the future, the great division will be between those who have trained themselves to handle complexities and those who are overwhelmed by them. Those who can acquire skills and discipline their minds, and those who are irrevocably distracted by all the media around them and cannot focus enough to learn. The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways. Play is the way to mastery.
The time that leads to mastery is dependent on the intensity of our focus. When people feel overwhelmed, their natural response is to retreat into various forms of passivity. If we don’t try too much in life, if we limit our circle of action, we can give ourselves the illusion of control. The less we attempt, the less chances of failure… it’s safe, right? If we can make it look like we are not really responsible for our fate, for what happens to us in life, then our apparent powerlessness is much more palatable. It is in fact the height of selfishness to merely consume what others create and to retreat into a shell of limited goals and immediate pleasures.
It’s all about love. In order to truly master something, you must love the subject and feel a profound connection to it. Your emotional commitment to what you are doing is translated into your work. If you go at your work with half a heart, it will show in the lack-lustre results and in the laborious way in which you reach the end… if you actually do reach the end. When you are doing something primarily for money and without a real emotional commitment, it will translate into something that lacks love and has no connection to you. You may not immediately see this, but you can be sure that others will feel it and that they will receive your work in the same lack-lustre spirit it was created in. When we are excited, enthusiastic and even obsessive in the hunt, it shows in the details. When your work comes from a place of love, deep within, its authenticity will be communicated.
“How would your life be different if…You decided to give freely, love fully, and play feverously? Let today be the day…You free yourself from the conditioned rules that limit your happiness and dilute the beautiful life experience. Have fun. Give – Love – Play!”
― Steve Maraboli
We tend to equate thinking and intellectual powers with success and achievement. In many ways, however, it is an emotional quality that separates those who master a field from the many who simply work at a job. Our levels of love, desire, patience, persistence, and confidence end up playing a much larger role in success than sheer reasoning powers. Feeling motivated and energised, we can overcome almost anything. Feeling bored and restless, our minds shut off and we become increasingly passive.
“The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.”
― Jane McGonigal
At your birth a seed is planted. That seed is your uniqueness. It wants to grow, transform itself, expand and flower to its full potential. It has a natural, assertive energy to it. Your life’s purpose is to bring that seed to flower, to express your uniqueness through your work. You have a destiny to fulfill. If you allow yourself to learn who you really are by paying attention to that voice and force within you, then you can become what you were fated to become – a Master.
“Genius is play, and man’s capacity for achieving genius is infinite, and many may achieve genius only through play.”
― William Saroyan
10 Reasons It’s Not All Just Fun & Games
1.Reduces Stress Playing can release endorphins, which are the body’s natural “happy” chemicals that make us feel good. Endorphins are chemicals that can relieve pain, boost wellbeing, and promote happiness. Endorphins relieve stress in the body.
2.Improves Brain Function Just like children, adults learn best when the learning activity is interactive, fun, and engaging. When challenges are playful, adults are more likely to remember what they learned and be more willing to engage in similar activities again.
3.Improves Imagination and Creativity When we are engaged in playful activities, we engage our imagination which helps us create new things, learn new skills, and problem solve.
4.Increases Emotional Well-Being Play generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun and leads to mastery. Playing, particularly out in nature, grounds you and supports your emotional health by replacing negative beliefs and behaviours with positive ones. Play can also act as a great distraction and a way to increase happiness.
5.Improves Connections with Others Play involves laughter and having fun, which can increase empathy, understanding, and compassion for others. This means play helps to loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, and form new business relationships.
6.Improves Social Skills If you are someone who thinks they could use a boost of increased social skills, then playing is a great way to achieve this. Group activities involve teamwork, cooperation, perspective taking, communication, and boundary-setting. Continued group play activities can support you in building and maintaining relationships. Play refreshes a long-term adult-adult relationships.
7.Boosts Productivity We are the most productive at work when our mindset is high-vibe and not overwhelmed. When we are happy, the quality we put into our work increases. Play can help you to achieve an energetic and happy mindset and support you in getting things done at work.
8.Prevents Burnout at Work If we can remain happy day-to-day, we are less likely to have burnout at work. Playing outside of work, and even at work, can help relieve stress associated with deadlines and work-related activities that may cause stress.
9.Refreshes Your Mind and Body Play is the gateway to vitality. By its nature, it is uniquely and intrinsically rewarding. Play is a natural healer of the brain and the body, providing us with energy, adrenaline, and positive feelings that directly benefit our mental and physical health.
10.Boosts Innovation Just as play boosts productivity, it also helps us to think about creative solutions to problems. This creativity can be transferred to the work environment when we think about new ways of doing things, developing new ideas, and creations.
“It’s not that we spend five days looking forward to just two. It’s that most people do what they enjoy most on those two days. Imagine living a life where everyday are your Saturdays and Sundays. Make everyday your weekend. Make everyday a play-day…”
― James A. Murphy
Mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge. This isn’t to say it’s all work and no play – quite the opposite! There is also another element, an X factor that Masters inevitably possess, that seems mystical when it’s actually accessible to us all. Whatever area, field or industry we are involved in, there is generally an accepted path to the top. It is a path that others followed and, because humans are conformist creatures, most of us opt for this conventional route.
However, Masters have a strong inner guiding system and a high level of self-awareness. What has suited others in the past does not suit them, and they know that trying to fit into a conventional mould would only lead to a dampening of spirit, and the reality they seek eluding them. Inevitably, as they progress on their career paths, these Masters make a choice at a key moment in their lives: they decide to forge their own route, one that others will see as unconventional, one that follows their heart, one of both play and danger.
But I haven’t played since I was a child, where do I begin?
6 Ways to Get More Play In Your Day
Set the Goal to Play.
When we think of setting goals we usually think of serious things, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, making more money, or starting a small business. However, the goal of having more fun is just as important as those more adult-sounding goals. After all, what’s the point of being thin, having more money, and having your own business if you’re not enjoying yourself?
Decide What Fun is For You.
If you can’t even remember what you like to do, or you’ve outgrown the things that you used to like to do, it’s time to identify new things that you enjoy. You may like to start be making a list of the things that you enjoyed doing as a kid. Then, go over your list and highlight those things that still sound appealing.
Set a Fun Minimum.
Just as you schedule exercise for at least half-an-hour a day schedule something fun for at least half-an-hour-a-day. In addition, you can set aside one day a week for a minimum of two hours of fun. Then, set aside at least two weeks a year which you’re going to devote entirely to having fun – you’re worth it!
Combine Fun With Other Activities.
Think of the things on your to-do list, and then look for ways to make them more fun. You could shop around for a new exercise class that you might enjoy like Zumba or pole dancing. Don’t stop until you find a class that feels like play to you. If that’s not your thing, you may consider gamifying your exercise. For instance, if you jog, get an app that lets you pretend that you’re being chased by zombies. You’ll be staying fit, surviving a zombie apocalypse, and having fun, all at the same time!
Have More Fun at Work.
Studies over the last two decades have revealed when workplaces make fun a factor it creates happier employees that feel more satisfied. And happy employees are all around better at their jobs. You may consider things like super casual Friday, friendly competitions – with prizes! Create milestones that the whole company can celebrate together. Better yet, start an initiative to set aside a small percentage of the profits for employee parties and events. Employees will work harder knowing that they’ll be rewarded for their efforts and acknowledged for their contributions.
Spend Time With Kids.
Children innately know how to play and have fun. If you don’t have any kids of your own, or they’re all grown, spend time with nephews and nieces or friends with little kids. They never disappoint.
Sometimes, fear of change and speculation masquerades as scepticism. We see this in people who delight in shooting down any theory or explanation before it gets anywhere. They are trying to pass off scepticism as a sign of high intelligence, when in fact they are taking the easy route—it is quite simple to find arguments against any idea and knock it down from the sidelines. See your life and your career or vocational path more as a journey with twists and turns rather than a straight line. There is absolutely no evidence that life is to be taken seriously so lighten up and get some play in your day, you may just create a masterpiece!