Work and Play

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.

  1. Play is NOT work.
  2. 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?

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