a Determined Worker, Intense Good Worker, Hard Worker and Terrific every day.
But, dear reader, sometimes working too much equals a life where fatigue outweighs fun. So of course, I love this mouse pad from my all-time favorite show The Office because it reminds me to laugh, to be ridiculous, and to be engaged in outrageous nonsense.
In order to maximize my happiness, I have completely quit working. I’m playing with a new motto that shifts my paradigm away from ‘work hard and succeed’ toward ‘play hard and pursue happiness.’ (Can you picture the cheesy bumper sticker with a thumbs-up emoji smiling face? Someone design this, please.)
Since I started this experiment of exchanging work with play, I feel younger, I feel more present, I feel more alive, and I feel free. This freedom motivates me to play harder, smarter and with greater passion. This freedom actually makes me WANT to go to work… I mean, go to play. And sometimes I show up for work twenty minutes early because I can’t wait to get there and engage in the important play of meditation and movement and community.
Try this experiment for yourself. Exchange the word ‘play’ for the word ‘work’ in your daily language and notice what happens in your body. Do you feel fatigued or exuberant? Annoyed or excited? Lethargic or energetic?
Something like… “I have to leave home now, so I can get to play on time. Today when I’m playing I’ll play hard to finish my play. After I play, I’ve got a play event with co-players and then I’ll be home to play in the yard before we go on a walk.” (This is me, describing to my Russell Clive why I’m leaving him home alone. He usually rolls his eyes at his overbearing mother and asks for the iPad to be left out so he can watch YouTube. Teenagers…)
I know it sounds slightly ridiculous, but doesn’t it also sound slightly fun? Doesn’t it also sound like all of the self-imposed stress regarding ‘work‘ might not be as overwhelming as once thought? Doesn’t it also sound like you might start your day smiling?
Alan Watts, the master of mindful living for maximum happiness, says it almost as eloquently as Dwight Shrute:
“This is the real secret in life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
So I want you to play. I want you to organize your day around play. I want you to play on your yoga mat and have fun. I want you to play with your family, your friends, your life. I want you to play your hardest, with your entire passionate self.
To play and be fully engaged in order to learn everything about this moment, because it’s the only time it will exist. I want you to laugh uncontrollably and look stress in the eye and say, ‘You, sir, are ridiculous. I don’t have time for you, I’m going to play.’