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The Quality of Play

This week I’ve had my scientist’s labcoat on, examining the finer qualities of play. I’d never really thought of play as something that had qualities – you either did it, or you didn’t. There was free time to play, or you could squeeze it in, or there just wasn’t.

But as I’ve been running my experiments, I’ve realized there’s an issue of quality as well.

When I’m stressed and add play time, it’s fun, but there’s an edge to it, almost a manic quality.  If I have long enough, the play itself seems to take that edge off.

But if I’m relaxed first, the play is more joyous. Lighter. The flow is easier.

So if play brings joy, and being relaxed brings deeper play, what do I need to do to be more relaxed?

Boundaries. Routines. Systems.

Now that seems crazy. I need to have work done, in order to be relaxed?

Maybe it isn’t crazy. The reality of the situation is that I’m an adult. And I have responsibilities and commitments. And I’m not the type to just toss it all in the air and go party.

I need ways to know that my responsibilities are met, that my commitments are in tune, and then I can relax.

Boundaries help make sure that I don’t get over-committed.

Systems help me keep track of my responsibilities.

Routines help me process my work as quickly as possible, so there’s more play time.

And if all of this becomes routine, the process becomes easier… and in the end, more relaxed.

Therefore work leading to play. But work in a mindful way, not just grinding stuff out. I foresee future experiments on mindful work enhancing quality AND quantity of play. Hooray, experiments!


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