Why do tasks and to do lists give us comfort? Why does the idea of play scares us?
While debating this the other evening in a coaching class, I realised that “to do” lists and “tasks” give us a false sense of control. They give us the impression that this is what responsible adults should do, in order to achieve things, to pay the bills, to get things done.
We are not at all comfortable with the idea of play, because play is for kids, because play is not what society taught us. At a point in our lives, we’ve been told that play time is over and the real life begins.
But what does play mean? How do we play in real life? How do we bring back that spirit of play?
Play means to let go the false idea of control. What do you do when you play? You JUST PLAY ALONG and you try to influence the outcome, but you cannot control it. Play teaches us to take risks, to discover new possibilities, play takes us in situations where we never thought we could be.
While we are at play, we gain clarity. A colleague of mine from the coaching school explained this so beautifully: when you play, you let go of control. And when you let go of control you can see things that you never saw before. It looks like when are on a frozen lake, you swipe the snow off and you discover the ice beneath it. You can see clearly now what’s beneath the ice. You can see the fish swimming, you can see the water plants, you can see anything that’s beneath the ice.
What does the play has to offer? Well when you are at play, you expand your creativity, you search for new angles in which you can win, you show up to whatever it’s there. You cannot hold onto one moment and ruminate it forever, because the game is on and you must be present.
In a yoga class, the teacher said, while we were holding posture and doing breathing exercises: „inhale, HOLD THE BREATH, exhale. This teaches us that as long as you hold on, you cannot take the next breath, you cannot move forward. As long as you hold onto things/persons/feelings you cannot move forward“.
The researchers discovered what the opposite of play means for humans: depression. Yes, you read that correctly. The opposite of play is DEPRESSION.
Play means: exploring, talking, thinking, imagining, daydreaming, inventing, risk taking, giving, sharing, making choices, working, relaxing, challenging, jumping, shouting, singing, making friends or connections, being yourself, being someone else, acting, feeling, problem solving, building, measuring, trying things out, storytelling, laughing, smiling, LEARNING.
I look at my 2 years old son and I realise that the only way in which he discovers the world is through play.
He learns everything through play, through TRYING THINGS and not being afraid to fail. Because we are not born with the fear of failure. WE TEACH THAT TO OUR CHILDREN. They are not afraid to build something that is not perfect out of LEGO. No, they enjoy the process, they enjoy the learning of putting things together, they love the idea of countless possibilities while playing with LEGO.
Life should be like that. Life should be a sum of failures and wins. Life should be made of a lot of trials and a lot of learning. We should stop more and watch children in their natural state before the culture touches them. We should observe how natural their confidence is. And we should remember that we were like that also, and along the way we lost that ability.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid that you are gonna fail? How far would you go to chase your dreams if you knew you would succeed?
Ask yourself these questions and see what gets in the way. See how your mind talks you out of it before you even start doing anything.