Last night, Dr. Becky Clark joined the #InnoPsy chat and talked with us about the importance of play for our mental and physical health. It was a great conversation, and you can catch the full transcript here. Dr. Clark made some great points, but two of those were particularly salient to me this morning.
- Play is NOT work.
- Play can inform and inspire work.
We were in the middle of one of the big storms this week, and ended up with close to a foot of snow. I was working on excavating my driveway this morning, with a blustery wind and piles of snow all about. This is not normally a fun chore–especially the second or third time around. And by this morning, the novelty was definitely gone.
Some teenage boys came to clear the driveway across the street. For a while, everything was just work.
And then I heard something. Scraps of songs were drifting across the street. Unexpected songs: bits of the “Phantom of the Opera” score, the Iz version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” a little Jason Mraz. Songs sung pretty well–with harmony, even. (I heard a bit of conversation about choir that probably explained the quality of my morning concert. Sound carries well over snow.)
The morning transformed. Instead of a trudge through line after line of snow, hoping not to breathe too much in when the wind threw it back in my face, I was enjoying a private concert. I never knew what was going to drift across the street next. I was smiling and playing “match the lyric” in my head.
A little play brought some joy to a normally joyless job.
It was a fantastic illustration of how we can choose to lighten our daily tasks with an infusion of creativity, playfulness, and fun. I know that my work went faster because of their songs–and I bet theirs did too.
We don’t normally associate the word “fun” with work (well, I do, but that’s because I am fortunate enough to have a job that I love that allows me to be creative and engaged everyday). And it is important not to use creativity at work as an excuse to shortchange our own playtime. But I firmly believe that even the most serious and critical work is improved with a smile, a song, a moment of playful connection.
How about you? Where are the moments to combine work and play in your life?