Antidote to Bad News
Recent days have been a barrage of bad economic news in the U.S. Here’s something that may prevent us all from jumping off a bridge. The following article is a great argument for rediscovering how to laugh an play. Both are great antidotes to creative dry spells and all those things that seem to want to paralyze our desire to write.
In a world that demands more and more of us every day at work, at home, with family activities and with life in general, sometimes good, plain old fashioned play gets lost in the mix. People who want a rich full life might be better off pursing play rather than wealth to get all that will make them happy.
Play brings the gifts of energy, joy, relief from worry, clears our minds, and tickles our imaginations and so much more. For a healthy balance in our busy lives play time, for us, needs to be an honored. We need make time for play as much as we make time work and chores.
To get to this point there are five easy steps that you can take that will bring you in full balance.
First, make a list of all the ways you played as a child. If you have to call a sibling, friend or ask your mom and dad because you have forgotten, do that! Make this list long and then sit back and take a look at it. As you read each thing that you enjoyed as a child try to bring back the feeling of doing that thing. When you bring play back into your adult life you want to re-create those feelings you had as child when you did what felt natural and easy for you.
Now write down what would give you that same feeling today if you did it. If you used to climb trees, what could you do today that would feel the same? If you aren’t about to physically be climbing anything, think about how it felt to be in the tree. What would feel like that now? Sitting in a gazebo? Being in a forest? Just talking with good friends? Think about the challenge of the tree climb and the fun you had when you got there. What would challenge you now?
If it was kick the can, dolls, soldiers, even video games, what was the feeling and how can you re–create that in your life now?
The next step is to make a list of all the things you are doing that are fun and playful or that you –could do that would be fun and playful. Work on this list until there are no less than 24 things on the list. Now next to each one write when was the last time you did these things. Write out when you are going to do them if you know it is planned in the very near future.
In this step you are trying to see how well you make the time to do the things that are playful and fun for you. Now ask yourself, what is stopping you? Some may cost money you don’t have at this time. Some may require more strength than you have at this time. You may be working long hours. You may be doing things with your kids or parents that take a lot of time. Next to each item write down what you believe is keeping you from doing this playful thing. Next to that statement write one or two ways around that problem.
Your next step is to look at the next four weeks in your life. If you can get them in one sheet in front of you that will help, or four sheets, each with one week on them. Now get yourself a highlighter, pick a color that will forever more be the color you associate with play time for yourself. Now you are to highlight different times in the next four weeks when you will be doing some, one or all of the things that are on your list from step two. Make the time to play just like you would an appointment to get your hair cut or go to a meeting. Be realistic; do not highlight times when you know you will have to be someplace else. If the time slots you have are very small and not enough to do the very thing you want, use this short time to plan other times or research or prepare or shop for the play you will be doing.
One woman I met told me she worked hard all year, never played except for two weeks when she traveled to an exotic locale. In quizzing her further I found that not to be true. In reality she spent at least five hours every single week she was not on the actual vacation researching and learning as much as she could about the place she would be traveling to. In essence having a vacation while she planned for the one she physically took. She was getting as much joy out of this research as the actual trip she told me. Play can be so many different things for different people.
Your next step will be to believe play is important. People tell me all the time they want balance in their lives and then when I ask them to do the three steps above, and stick to them they give me a thousand excuses why they can’t. If I truly believe something is important you will do it. Giving to charity is important, so people do it. Taking care of our children is important so we do it. Working to make a living is important so we do it. Play is important, do it!
The last step to a healthy balance in life is to make our work play as well. Work is to be enjoyed. Not the perfect job. Not the perfect work. Work in general. Make your workday fun. Start every day with a smile and go uphill from there. Enjoy your journey to the office. Plan to have a good day. Talk yourself into it, playfully. See the good things in your work. Enjoy whatever it is you do. There are no big jobs and little jobs, there are jobs. Make yours playful and fun for you. Don’t get into the misery others talk about, make your own joy. Find simple ways to make yourself smile during the day. Do your best at what you do and know that that is the highest form of play, doing a good job and being proud of it.