Play: The Fountain of Productivity

I would like to tell you that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Except I only tried that once, and I didn’t catch any flies at all. So it’s not the most meaningful example.

Instead, think of shopping with friends. Hiking in beautiful mountains. Swimming at the beach. Staying up late playing games and telling stories.

Times you’ve exhausted yourself having fun.

You can do more work, for longer, better, when you are really enjoying it. Inspiration is a much better motivator than fear.

It’s confusing to say, “Go do work you think is fun.” That’s because fun is a byproduct. Enjoyment is secondary to play.

Play happens when you don’t stress about the outcome. You imagine how cool it will be when you’re done, but it’s fun doing it, right now, so the outcome doesn’t matter. You act without analyzing your actions in advance.

You can flow, and inspiration pops out of the blue, and there’s a rainbow of possibilities that are too exciting to bother with silly things like tiredness.

It’s also confusing to say, “Go play”, unless you are talking to an honest to goodness kid. That’s because the rest of us have spent 20+ years being trained in the opposite of play: “sit down, shut up, and do your work.”

It has taken society a few thousand years to figure out that bored miserable people do crappy work.

More pertinent, there are things in the way of your ability to play. Play is the default setting. But work, misery, and responsibility have all conspired to warp your gears. It takes a really good psychological spring cleaning to wash out decades of BS.

It’s worth it though. Especially if you want to be a productive member of society. Or love your life.

Comments

  1. I work hard and long and often wind up in a mental quagmire. Walking away to play, diverting my mind from the problem-usually, when I return to the job at hand, the answer is right there. Yes, play is important, everyday, if possible. And don’t forget to break out in laughter at every available opportunity.

    • Morgan Alverson says:

      Same here Kate – sometimes play is exactly what I need.

      I agree about the laughter too. We need more.

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