Are You Playing Enough? Why Playtime is Essential for Entrepreneurs…and others!
We are in the middle of the Fall season and one thing I love about this season is walking through leaves and hearing the crunch, watching the colors jump around my feet. It takes me back to my childhood, and connects me to a feeling of pleasure.
I have mentioned the importance of play to my clients many times, and how to use it as a tool to prompt blocked up creative juices to flow again.
… play is more than just a good time. It’s also a powerful marketing tool, one that’s in the midst of a sophisticated and very grown-up renaissance in the form of gamification. –
Amy Cosper, Ed. In Chief, Entrepreneur Magazine
You can look up “gamification” for the full definition but basically it is the application of game playing to enhance and facilitate problem solving. While first-generation start-up tech companies were sometimes derided for having foos-ball games set up in their lobbies, they actually served an important function: to stimulate creativity and garner ideas for new and improved products (including gaming software).
I have found play to be one of the most effective ways to restart our motors when we’re stuck. My creative writing teacher gave our class a tip on how to overcome writer’s block, which has turned out to be one of the most important pieces of advice in my life.
When our creativity gets stuck, he said, (for example while writing the next blog post !), play. Do something else creative, like seeing a movie, drawing, dancing, playing music. Feel some joy in another area. It gets the energy moving, and you can come back to your project with renewed vigor and new ideas.
The Importance of Play in Our Lives
I know it feels like you have less leisure time and fewer unstructured “play” hours in your life. I get into that vortex of “I’m the only one.”
Does that happen to you?
Play is the highest form of research.
– Albert Einstein
Our fast, faster, fastest high tech life has made us into a culture that seems to be always multitasking, always rushed, always connected. With mobile phones interrupting the theater, laptops and tablets at the beach, Wi-Fi at every café (or we go to another one that does have it), and coming soon to an airplane near you phone calls in the air, our devices and need to stay connected demand our attention at all hours of the day and night. It feels virtually impossible to separate “play” from “work.” Yet to maintain balance in our lives, and for our ultimate well-being, play is vital.
Play is a lost key. It unlocks the door to ourselves.
— Lenore Terr, MD
Lenore Terr, MD, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of Beyond Love and Work: Why Adults Need to Play, posits that play is crucial at every stage of life. In play we discover what gives us pleasure, cultivate feelings of accomplishment, and acquire a sense of belonging. When we play, we learn and mature and find an outlet for stress.
When we immerse ourselves in play our cares and worries disappear. Card and board games, a game of tennis, riding a bike for amusement and not just transportation, watching a movie, or being thoroughly engrossed in a good novel actually makes us feel more alive and even, yes, light-hearted. There is nothing like play that allows us to be grounded in the present moment.
Finding Time to Play
If you feel like you don’t have enough playtime in your life (and who doesn’t), try these suggestions:
Tune In: Tune in to what lights you up, makes you feel happy, and connects you to life. You might have to delve into memories of a younger you to figure this out. Write them down as you remember. Keep a “play journal” to record what you tried and how you liked it as a reference for next time.
Turn On: What kinds of play turn you on? Can you think of something you wanted to do, before technology made life “easier”? An art class? Improv? Meet-Up groups are everywhere now, find one and join up with others who share your interests. Kayaking, meditation, and hiking are just a few of the thousands of options waiting for you. Invite someone over to play, just like you used to when you were a kid. Nothing planned, nothing structured. Let your play evolve naturally.
Drop Out: Turn off the TV, the smartphone, the computer, the iPad and any other electronic devices for at least two hours a day. (I know this will be difficult for some of us at first, myself included.) Imagine you don’t have any cares or worries, that you have all the time in the world to laugh and play and enjoy.
I used to be really good at daydreaming during school (!). Did you ever lie on your back and watch the clouds up above, looking for images? Pretend there is no moment other than this one right now.
Finally, any time you have the choice of whether to work “just one more hour” or give yourself over to play, consider the benefits:
Reduced stress, more creativity, increased focus, better memory and more clarity. Go play!
Then, come back to your work with renewed optimism, fresh ideas, and excitement!
Until next time…
Yours in Wealth and Health!
Your Money Mojo Mentor