The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.
In fact, play is a crucial ingredient to success at work, says Dr. Stuart Brown, author of Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul.
We often receive conflicting messages at our jobs. We are asked to be creative, to think outside the box and to innovate, but we are also expected to be professional, serious and consistently productive.
Many of us have internalized the message that play is a waste of time in the workplace.
Brown defies this notion. He argues that playing at work is essential, especially today, when we need more designers, innovators, storytellers and creative people to thrive in jobs that can’t be automated or outsourced.
Innovation and creativity are vital to our jobs, and our jobs are our biggest wealth-building tool.
So, what can we do to foster these important traits? Stuart outlines numerous strategies to make play work for you:
Joke and laugh when the going gets tough. Don’t take yourself or your work too seriously.
When problem-solving, get some distance from the problem. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Instead, go for a walk with a friend or for a run, which is my favorite.
When you get stuck, seek the solution in your imagination. Take on the role of someone smarter than you. How would he or she solve the problem?
Instead of doing a team-building exercise, try playing a game as teams. Play promotes social bonds, helps people get to know one another and can bring relationships into harmony.
Take vacations. Get away from work. Play and return rejuvenated.
Take a well day. Just go and play. Grinding out work for too long can cause us to ask: “Is this all there is to life?”
Making play a part of your life doesn’t mean that you have to quit your job or run away from your responsibilities. But it does mean making play a habit.
After reading Brown’s book, I installed a dartboard in my office. Even a few minutes of tossing darts can be enough to rejuvenate my creativity and soul.
I leave you today with author James Mitchener’s take on work and play:
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his version of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him it’s always both.”
firstname.lastname@example.org. Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. Visit his website, www.personalfinancecoaching.com.