On your desk you find a gift box. The box has a label on it. It says “Contents: Productivity, Creativity, Energy, Emotional Health, Stress Relief, Memory, Better Relationships, Trust”. Then you notice warning labels on the box. Emblazoned in red are labels that say: “Unproductive, Waste of Time, Childish, Frivolous, Lazy, Useless, Worthless”.
As you compare the labels, you find out that the warning labels were put on by your boss, your friends, and your family. Would you heed the red warning labels and return the gift unopened or would you open the gift and claim the contents?
If you opened the box, you would find inside a permission slip that says: “You have permission to play.”
“Play” is different for different people. Play is really a state of mind. It’s how you think about whatever activity you are doing that makes it “play” or not. Generally, all play is a voluntary experience, unstructured, and not necessarily for any specific goal (except fun).
The permission slip allowing you to play can bring you all the benefits, and more, listed on the contents label. So why does everyone slap those warnings on “play” and not want you to get all those proven benefits? Is it just another subconscious program impressed upon them by their parents or teachers when they were young? Or is it a mandate by uneducated, overzealous bosses using their positional power?
Time to play has tremendous benefits physically, mentally, and relationally. Carl Jung said: “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.” Or from the great modern day philosopher Captain James T. Kirk: “The More Complex the Mind, the Greater the Need for the Simplicity of Play”.
Give yourself permission to play.