Friday, July 16, 2010

Don't forget to play

I think, if I could give one piece of advice to people looking for a way to get their lives, money and homes in order it would be this: don't forget to play.

It seems counter-intuitive. I mean, when you feel overwhelmed and there's only so much time in the day to get things done, the instinct is to spend all of it working. If I'm not doing something productive it's a waste.

But the truth is, I don't think the human brain or the universe works that way. When all you do is run around working, sometimes it starts to feel like you're running on a hamster wheel. For example, the more you work, the more tired you are, the more money you spend on conveniences and comforts, the more you have to work. And then there's laundry, which does have the annoying habit of popping back up again once you've gotten it done.

After a while, you feel tempted to just give up. You'll always be in debt, you'll always have laundry piles, you'll always be miserable.

But, when you play, when you budget in time for something you enjoy and totally immerse yourself in it, you feel better. You feel better in a way that you will never feel by earning more money or folding more laundry. Whether it's reading a book, going to the zoo, playing a video game, or throwing a ball around, somehow it is productive in a truer sense than vacuuming is. The reason is, once you've done that, you don't feel so defeated anymore. You don't mind doing some laundry or cooking a nice meal. When I meet a friend for coffee, I don't feel any more tired the next day than if I didn't. In fact, going to work is actually easier.

So, do it, take some time and play. By yourself, with your family, with your friends, it doesn't matter. Just go, be totally unproductive and enjoy yourself. It's amazing how much it will accomplish.


Anonymous said...

I had this exact argument with my wife this weekend. You are of course, correct. We work so hard all the time that we forget why we are working. Working without motivation is slavery, and I have no intentions of being a slave. I work so my wife and I can enjoy time and experiences together. If we ever get to the point where that's no longer true, I need to quit working.