“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.” - Charles Schaefer
Alarm. Shower. Breakfast. Kids. Kiss. Commute. Work. Lunch. Calls. Meetings. Commute. Dinner. Family. Television. Sleep.
Sound familiar? Did you breathe? Did you laugh? Did you have fun? Or was it all work?
There is a Japanese term for working yourself to death: Karoshi. Now I’m not saying that’s what you are doing. (There certainly are people in Japan who are. After all, they coined a term.) But how much of your life is work and how much play? Seriously, right now, give me the ugly statistics. 80/20? 70/30? 98/3? (I know, I know! Math, Kim!)
But seriously, what is your life worth and what do you want out of it? More fun? More play? Yeah, me too. Weird you guys, we’re like the same person.
Play is often looked at as frivolous and unnecessary, but more and more studies are coming out touting the value of play and how play leads to happiness and ultimately more productivity and success in work and life. Shawn Achor, in his bestselling book, The Happiness Advantage, wrote, “Companies and leaders who take measures to cultivate a happy workplace will not only have more productive and efficient workers, they’ll have less absenteeism and lower health care expenditures.”
Well, that sounds good, no? He also is quoted as saying, that “every time employees experience a small burst of happiness, they get primed for creativity and innovation. They see solutions they might otherwise have missed.”
Wow! All that from play! So HOW can you bring more play to your day, you ask? Let’s look for some of those “small bursts of happiness.”
1. Surround yourself with people who play and make you happy.
Nothing like finding/creating your network of like-minded folk. We are only as happy as those around us. Find the laughers and the players.
2. Allow yourself the freedom to fail. You won’t die, I promise.
We are raised to believe failure is bad. What if you could free yourself from that fear? What might be possible for you? Where are you most afraid?
3. Turn off your devices and look, listen and connect more.
What are you missing on the subway, in the restaurant, on your walk with your face glued to your smartphone? Turn off, look up, and take in! Life is happening all around you. Enjoy it.
4. Take a risk; do something outside of your comfort zone.
I know, I know. Your comfort zone is more comfortable. But stretch yourself. What do you want to do? What could you never imagine being brave enough to do? Do it.
5. Laugh more.
This is the easiest of all. Find more in your life to laugh at. Start with a smile. It grows from there.
So next time you are tempted to accept the status quo, do what you have always done, choose the boring (a.k.a. safe) option, hide in your cell phone, hang out with people who make you unhappy and avoid any and all “small bursts of happiness,” remind yourself to play more, take a chance, look silly and laugh. Your family, friends, boss and heart will thank you. I’m off to take a statistics class now.
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”
Kim Schultz is New York-based actor, improviser, author, and teacher. She runs a school of improv called Kim Schultz Improv, going into organizations to help create better companies, teams and people through authentic living. Kim is also a playwright and author currently finishing a memoir on falling in love with an Iraqi refugee. She has also published articles on FieldReport, FutureTakes, Seattle Globalist and PolicyMic. For more information on Kim or her classes, please go to www.kimschultz.net or visit her blog at www.thisauthenticstory.blogspot.com