30 May Why PLAY? Why now?
First thing that I want you to do is close your eyes and remember a time when you had no responsibility. Remember how it felt to only have to be a kid.
Remember the last day of school- how we played hard as heck until the bell rang. Then we said our goodbyes to our friends for the next few months and ran laughing home or rode our bikes as fast as we could taking a minute to jump off of every curb in the process.
For me the simple thought about summer as a kid takes me straight to the 2 months that I spent with my Grama every year.
Every day was filled with basketball, adventure, playing hard, laughing, sweating, pretending and tons of time spent with my closest friends.
Those were the days that my imagination and creativity were at an all time high. There were no self imposed limits placed on me. I still believed that I could be anything I wanted to be.
Each day I gave myself permission to change what I wanted to be when I finally grew up. One day I wanted to be a marine biologist, the next an archeologist and then two days later I wanted to play in the NBA.
When I shared these dreams with the bigs in my life, they encouraged me to pursue whatever path was going to make me happy.
What was your dream when you were the younger version of you?
A pilot, a firefighter, a doctor? Maybe it was an astronaut, or a tiger tamer. Whatever it was it was ok then.
So what is it so different today?
Let me tell you….one of the biggest things that happen when we get older is we start telling ourselves stories about what we can and can not do. We start listening to the other voices that are telling us we can’t and really truly start to believe them.
Soon enough, we have completely boxed ourselves into a life that we really didn’t want. Sure the money may be good but most of the times we do not go to bed feeling fulfilled. Basically that is when we start settling in life.
We wake up looking for the next thing that is going to make us happy – forgetting that we are only promised the day that we are in.
We stop playing. We stop dreaming.
We “grow up”.
Why? Because society says that we have to man or woman up. That as an adult there is no time for play. We need to go to work, make money, come home pay bills, get married, have a family, save for our 401k. Then we rinse and repeat. Play is for children, and the slackers in life we are told- anyone who still plays is just immature. No way would we want to be one of those people.
Whoever started this thought process was an absolute idiot.
Truthfully, I put them right up there with the jerk that decided that we should work 5 days a week and only get two day off. Who are these people? What the heck were they thinking?
So why the post about this? Great question.
It is my mission in life to bring play back into the life of every adult that needs it.
Play is essential to happiness! Without it we grow old. We lose our creativity. We forget how to have fun.
Four years ago, I walked away from a high stress salaried position because I was no longer happy. All I did was work. 65-70 hours a week. I rarely had anytime to play or do anything else with my money. When I could find time, most of it was spent destressing and trying to relax.
I still remember the first Monday after quitting my job.
There was no alarm to wake me up. When I got up, I walked to my kitchen and made myself a real breakfast for the first time in a long time. I walked outside and stretched with the sun shining on on my skin. Then I came inside and put my shoes on and went to the gym. After the gym, I was ready to play and explore San Diego —so I went to one of my favorite places – Dave and Busters.
I spent the morning just playing games. I probably played the basketball game 15 times. Then I fell in love with one of the games they had where you had to hit as many lit lights as possible. I was hooked. All by myself, laughing, sweating. I had turned into a 31 year old kid.
As I was walking to my car, it hit me – – this was the feeling that I had been missing from my life. I had been a Camp Director, yet somewhere in the political and business bullshit of the job I had forgotten why I originally loved the department.
In that moment I knew that what ever was in store for me was going to be awesome. I also knew that I was going to play my ass off in whatever fashion I wanted for however long I needed in order to make up for what I had missed out on.
That year and a half set the stage for who I am and where I am now. I lived off my savings account, drank, partied, hung out with friends, created a weekly neighbors night in my condo complex where we played games and watched youtube, I traveled, hung out at the beach, played disc golf, basketball and more video games that I had in the last ten years.
I also noticed that as I played, my friends became happier. Why? Because they were playing also.
If I went to the bar on a Friday night to do Karaoke, I was always inviting someone to come with me.
If I went to throw the Frisbee on the beach, I was always inviting someone to come hangout and grab dinner.
I organized bonfires and bbqs.
I had top chef style cookouts in my kitchen.
I organized youtube nights.
I created a fun and playful environment all around me and invited those closest to me in.
I started created our annual ugly sweater party.
I said it already, but play is truly essential to live a happy life.
Unstructured play creates space for imagination, outside of the box thinking, creativity, freedom to explore and authentic and true connection.
Feeling stuck? Go play for an hour, see how you feel after that.
Feeling overwhelmed? Go play!
Feeling tired? Go play!
Feeling old? Go play!
It is the cheapest, yet most amazing cure for soooooo many things.