Why You Need To Play More
If you could press Pause on life, and only pick up those things that you’d like to pursue, what would it look like to live the life you’d like to lead? A break during the summer provides the opportunity to reflect on what really matters and find the secret to a life of adventure and purpose.
When We Thrive
To thrive means to prosper, to be fortunate or successful. Another way of saying this might be, to flourish.
Ideally, we thrive in the work that we do. However, work generally takes the best of us too and can leave us feeling spent. Especially if it fails to provide the fulfilment we were hoping for.
Rest would appear to be the antidote to this. We know that sleep is not only an important physical recovery for our body. It also enables our brain to complete all sorts of tasks necessary for good brain function, as well as good mental health.
Finding the balance between work and rest is different for each of us. But are we missing something?
Tony Schwartz who wrote ‘The Power of Full Engagement‘ says that “Energy not time is the currency of high performance“. Having sufficient energy for the challenges we face each day creates resilience and it’s that ability to bounce-back that keeps us moving forward.
However the energy we’re spending – on work, family and other commitments – needs to come from somewhere. Many of us are drawing on energy reserves that are limited and need constant recharging. But where are we getting our energy from? And how do we build up our energy stocks?
Whilst rest helps to replenish our resources, could engaging in something just for the sheer fun of it provide the energy we need? What if play is the secret to truly thriving in the midst of the high-performing lives that we lead?
Our friend Aaron McHugh is passionate about living a well-balanced life full of joy, adventure and connection.
“I am defining play as sheer joy-filled, aimless enjoyment without a goal or competition or purpose.”
For many of us, when we think of ‘play’ we think of exercise, fitness or sport. In fact, over 60% of us do at least 150 minutes of activity per week. So we might think this is something we’re fairly good at.
But as Aaron writes, in his Blog Work Life Play,
“Do you remember when kicking the soccer ball around with your friends was just for fun?
Winning, competing, advancing, and striving each enter the scene of our youth and our play is consumed by these stronger forces.”
Research backs this up. It shows that what we need when we play is not just healthy competition but so much more. We need that sense of being lost in the sheer joy of the moment. In fact, play is essential to our well-being, creativity, and health. Emma Seppala PhD describes five reasons why you need to play more:
- It boosts your creativity
- It helps you think outside the box
- It improves your health
- It makes you present
- It connects us
Recently Ben – our Founder – found himself running low on resources at the end of a busy day:
“I love sitting at the piano and playing – this could be playing a piece of music, or doodling – just making something up which fits my mood at the time. It restores me. Recently we bought a giant badminton shuttlecock. After a family meal, with the kitchen needing to be cleared up, and the kids to get into bed, my wife and I played giant badminton! It was 10 minutes of fun and gave us the energy to continue with the post dinner/kids-into-bed routine, which as any parent can attest can feel taxing at times.”
How Play Can Be Productive
Play can be productive in the workplace too:
“research shows that play can decrease absenteeism, stress, and health care costs. When employees take time out to play, it lessens the stress of work, which leads to less sickness, a more positive attitude and more energised work environment“
Music and singing are such an easy, effective and enjoyable way to add non-competitive play into your life. Leading British concert pianist James Rhodes believes it’s never too late to learn to play something new:
“Learning a musical instrument can unlock the door to a new dimension that many of us have forgotten even exists,” Rhodes begins in his opening chapter, and there is no denying the immense appeal of laying aside technology to engage one’s fingers and brain and soul in a pursuit that has nothing to do with email, texting, or social media.”
Some businesses are so confident of the benefits of playing music together, that they encourage their employees to form a choir or join a band during their lunch break. Because it’s often in the midst of a challenging workplace that we need to experience the benefits of play the most.
Moving Performance provides an opportunity for businesses and other organisations to experience the transforming power of music for themselves, in the middle of a normal work week. Our delegates gain strategic personal and corporate insights on leadership, communication and team development alongside world-class musicians. We take our work very seriously, but one of the benefits of working with us is that our approach is playful and quite deliberately so.
Work, Play, Live, Thrive
So with the holiday season upon us, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the balance of our lives. If you can get away from it all, even briefly, a little distance can make it easier to see which elements could do with some fine-tuning.
Play can be powerful and productive. Einstein described it as “the highest form of research”. So what if you got out there this summer and did something just for the sheer fun of it?