As I sat curled on the floor… waiting… my daughter jumped out of the box with a BANG and a BOO.
I’m not going to lie, I pretended that it scared me. Sorry girl…
But for those few minutes, the giggles and the laughter were all I was thinking about – and that’s one of things I love best about kids. They are the ones that bring adults back to their childhood. That playful nature that gets you lost in imagination with no sense of time.
Suddenly it’s “okay again” to act like a goofball.
But I’m going to argue that we all need to spend more time playing, even if kids aren’t around. It can be music, art, world puzzles, sports. Just make it unrelated to the other areas of your life.
Here’s what it does for me, and I would hope you can find too:
Playing Creates Mental Space
When your brain is going from busy work-mode, to angry-about-my-commute mode, to have-to-make-dinner and cleanup-the-house mode, to side-projects-mode, it’s hard to find the mental capacity to think freely and deeply about any of those things.
Playing allows you to do something that might get you “in the zone” or the “flow state” as some call it, when you lose track of time. It’s these times when your brain gets to put the worries and problems into the subconscious. Which is a surprisingly efficient and “creative” aspect of thinking.
Most of my best ideas come when I’m out in nature, in the shower, or doing anything other than thinking about the problem at hand.
Playing Inspires Creativity
Just like a muscle on your body, your brain needs practice in being creative. I don’t just mean art creative, any type of creativity. By spending time doing unrelated activities it will improve your creativity on other more critical things.
Playing Inspires Exploration
It’s easy to get in routines of doing the same things day in and day out – especially with work. The manufacturing and industrial revolution brought that out in us even more where we were told efficiency means repetition. But what we lack now is the ability to actively look for new ideas, projects, tasks, and adventures.
We get so caught up in the day to day that we forget to explore other possibilities. Whether those possibilities are careers, volunteering, love, countries, or hobbies.
Playing is a way to remind ourselves to look outside of what we’re currently doing.
It’s just downright fun
And we can’t forget that we just need a break sometimes. Do things that bring you joy – even if they seem “meaningless” at the time. Our workaholic society might not see it as useful – but screw them, they’re not having fun.