the sweet spot is play
Updated: May 8
Ask me what my favorite time was a teacher. Uh, yah. Ask me!
It was a blissful 15 minutes to catch my breath. Oh let's be serious... I was always busy as heck. But man I could get a lot done! Prepping for the next lesson, wiping the desks after snack, sweeping the room, checking my email, grabbing a coffee or glass of water, going to the bathroom. All without 22 little people to interrupt. Blissful.
This was when I didn’t have supervision with the kids. Truth be told, I loved recess even more when I was outside with those kiddos. Yes, even on those really cold days. Sometimes I would just stand there, taking it all in.
The frenetic energy, the laughter, the joy. I'd think, “When do we lose this? When did I lose this?”
It’s becomes so easy to drift into a life of expectation and responsibility. One minute we have all the time in the world, and suddenly the only time we have is borrowed.
The world has serious issues. The ever growing to do list is always ever growing. In the midst of all that, play gets pushed to the back burner. Soon it's forgotten or pushed aside to only the weekend, vacations, or summer. When we do that, those serious issues, and the never ending list gets BIGGER and BIGGER. Your stress gets higher and your life and satisfaction with it gets lower.
All because you're not building the muscles that build resiliency.
Living well means living a balanced life. Setting boundaries and paying attention to what's important. Life can be a sloppy mess, but it's also pretty wild and magical.
Play is the re-fresh button in the middle of the day
It gives you that rocket boost of positive emotion, which helps your physical and mental health, opens your mind to possibilities, builds your creativity, lightens your mood, decreases tension, worries and stress, recharges you, and keeps you present in the moment. Whew! (that was a mouthful)
Don't be so stuffy. Get a little freaky. Give yourself permission to play.
When we play we smile and laugh. When was the last time you almost peed yourself laughing? Tears flowing, cheeks hurting with uncontrollable laughter. We lose the ability to spontaneously belly laugh around the age of 3. Our brain kicks in and we start to think. I remember looking at my 3 year old boys (many moons ago) and nearly crying over this.
So when it happens we should grab it like the golden ring. Damn it feels good doesn't it! The endorphins that rush through our body with laughter is a booster shot to our brain. It can replenish our energy like a Red Bull. You might want to reconsider your 2:30 caffeine habit, wink, wink.
More companies, and yes we all know about Google, are starting to recognize the power that play has in their productivity.
As they search to make their employees happier companies are seeing that play opens minds to more creativity, more solutions, better relationships, less stress. Therefore leading to a stronger company.
It doesn’t have to be meaningful. In fact, please don't!
Once when my boys were young, we were camping and decided to go for a walk on a beautiful forest trail. Amid the, “How much further? Where are we going?” and the heavy sighs, my son said, “I need a destination. What’s the point if we don’t have a purpose?” Out of the mouths of first borns! I get it, for him a walk, even if it was a beautiful one filled with wonders that gobsmacked you right in the face, wasn’t play, but for me it was. That walk replenished my soul. It filled up my bucket enough to manage the rest of the busy day that I was sure to have, and it gave my children and me a moment to remember.
When we are immersed 100% in the present moment we experience a state of great pleasure that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls Flow. Playing has this effect.
Time stands still when we are truly playing.
It gives you that moment, where you are totally absorbed in the present. We say, “Time flies when you’re having fun”, because you don’t even notice that little devil called time, because all of your attention is given to the present moment that you are in. Beautiful, isn’t it?
And how ’bout this for a final kicker?
We do not quit playing because we’re old. We grow old because we quit playing ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
My husband is a pharmacist in a very physically active community. He has many customers in their 8th and 9th decade. More times than he can count his "older" customers come in and say, “I’ll just drop this prescription off and come back for it after I do a ski or a bike ride or a hike.”
I'm filled with awe and admiration. I want that. It is my bucket list.
I didn’t realize the gift right in front of me when I was teaching. The role models for fun and play in my sight daily. Children. Their curiosity, wonder, enthusiasm and lack of pause when the recess bell rings is all the inspiration we need. They remind us that we intimately know play already, it’s a part of us. It’s how we discovered the world to begin with.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve still got a lot of discovering left to do. So add a little recess to your day. Go play.
As always, take what you need and leave the rest, and if you enjoyed this article please share.
With much love and appreciation,
P.S. Head to the Facebook Page and share what you do for play. You might be the inspiration for others.