Why Playing Is For Adults Too

I'm getting ready to take a few days off and play.  My aunts and their cousins - which would make them my 2nd cousins are taking the family reunion on the road this year.  Who knew that there were Italian cousins in Duluth and Virginia, MN of all places?

I don't know about you, but playing is sometimes hard.  Of all the things I've been debating about packing:  it's my computer.  Do I need to be in touch with my clients?  Should I take the time away to do more writing?  I could use the time away from my office, and let's be honest, my bed from napping, to catch up on the things I've been putting off to move my business ahead.  Quite frankly, it's hard for me to leave the computer behind even on a trip about play. 

I just hosted a group coaching workshop on playing last Saturday and I posed this question...

Why is playing so hard for us adults?

To be honest, when I set out to research the topic, I had no idea.  Is the adult version of playing just resting?  What does play look like?  And why do some of us struggle to get there? 

The answer: guilt.  Some of us have it in our minds that we need to be useful, productive, getting things done.   We want to show something for our time.  We want to prove to those around us that we are useful.  We were taught not to be time wasters. 

It's interesting, isn't it?  I have a friend who comes over almost every Friday evening and we go out for dinner.  Every dinner conversation we have includes, "What did you get done this week?"  Not how was your week.  Not how are you doing personally.  But, what did you get done?  

To be fair to my friend and I, we're both wired a little more toward tasks.  We like to get things done.  My friend has a to-do list, I have one in my head.  But somewhere, we've both bought in to being useful and productive with our time. 

As I did my research on playing as adults, I was convicted by one thought that I read in this book called The Rest of God.  You and I may have trouble letting go of our to-do lists and intentionally playing because we need to let go of the idea that our identity is wrapped up in being useful.  In other words, taking time to play means we stop being defined by what we do or get done and start being defined by who we are as a child of God. 

Ouch!

If I'm honest with the quiet places of my heart, I know that I sometimes define myself more by what I get done, how successful I've been in this new venture, and how many clients come to my coaching events than by who I am.  There's a beauty in allowing yourself to cease striving and embracing being a child of God. 

Which makes me wonder about you?  Do you enjoy a little guiltless play?  Or are you sitting in the pool with the kids and going over that to-do list you need to tackle as soon as you get out? 

And the real question, what are you and I missing out on when we don't embrace playing? 

Playing Is Good For You

That's right.  It's part of your own self care.  It's good for you and I to intentionally schedule some play time.  For reasons I've already mentioned, it's good for our emotional health to take a break from producing.  It's good for our soul to know that we are not defined by our work our checking off our to-do lists, and to enjoy life a little. 

Some added benefits to taking time to play...increased creativity and productivity. When you and I take time to play, we become more creative.  Because we are refreshed, we think of new ideas and solutions and become more productive in our work. 

What Does Play Look Like? 

Play looks like whatever you want it to.  Where do you find joy?  What inspires you to look at life with joy and excitement?  What did play look like when you were a kid?  What sounds fun to you now? 

Here's the thing: Playing is not resting.  Playing should refresh and rejuvenate you.  Playing should be something that nourishes your soul.  As a single gal, I can turn on the TV to keep me company and to "rest".  But the truth of the matter is that my "rest" rarely nourishes my soul.  You and I need to find the things that make us come alive.  You and I need to find ways to rest, relax, and play that feel good for our soul and help us to cease striving and forget about out to-do lists for a bit. 

Choosing Play

At my recent group coaching workshop, one of my friends didn't get it really.  You see, she has chosen to include play into almost everything she does as a lifestyle.  She plays with her grandkids and her dog.  She explained to us that she makes cleaning her house a game.  As she's cleaning, she sees how many coins she can find in the couch cushions and on the floor. 

My response:  uh huh..,.

You may or may not be there yet.  I know I'm not.  But I do know I can choose play.  I can choose to leave my computer at home when I'm going on a trip.  I can choose to take an hour out of my day to do the things that nourish my soul:  coffee or lunch with friends, heading to the pool, or just a bike ride around the neighborhood. 

And maybe you and I can work up to making cleaning a game.  For now, I will get in and get out of cleaning so I can do some things that I love. 

I'd love to get your ideas on what sounds fun to you.   What do you do when you have a day to play?