I know in my own life I have often felt that life is very serious, and forget how to just have fun. Perhaps I was feeling depressed, or perhaps I was working too hard and not enjoying a balanced life. Do you feel this too?
My children are the greatest educators for how to be playful, and that has certainly been helpful to me. But perhaps you don’t have these little reminders.
Why is being playful important?
Play isn’t time wasted, it’s useful. It is recreation with the emphasis on the last three syllables. Play is indispensable to human progress and good for individuals. A culture that encourages it will enjoy cumulative benefits. Denmark – officially the happiest country on earth – is an example. Flexible work and affordable childcare are the norm, which means more free time. In addition, there is greater gender equality and a work-to-live culture that includes the expectation that people should pursue private interests (even – gasp! – mothers).
What does it do for you? It re-energizes you. It has a huge amount of physical, psychological and emotional benefits. In the workplace, an experimental approach – to tasks as well as the structure of the working day – can boost productivity and profits. Forward-thinking economists, scientists and employers know this. Google and Pixar led the way with their infamously groovy work practices, but other employers are joining in. Three years ago Richard Branson announced unlimited holiday for his staff at Virgin Group. “Smart” not “hard” is the new way to work.
We all need to play, especially those of us who think we are too busy. Five minutes a day will make a difference. Why not start now?
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