Find Ways to Play When You Feel Like Playing the Blues (Productive Flourishing Pulse #468)
Or, how to embrace and support your inner two-year-old
Steve here for Charlie, who’s still in the DR for the Level Up Retreat.
The other morning I found myself in a serious “don’t want to” funk. Not a normal way of being for me, for sure. As I dug into the feeling in my writing practice/morning pages, I realized that my inner two-year-old was tantruming over the imbalance between serious and playful, telling me I’ve been leaning too heavily on the serious side for a while now.
I needed to bring in some more lightness and joy, to both work and life, before that inner two-year-old had a meltdown in the middle of the grocery store.
Finding ways to lighten the seriousness we sometimes — okay, often, for some of us — bring to our work is a way for us to cope with those times when the work is hard, the road is bumpy, and the wind is against us.
Full-on play isn’t necessary for every bit of our work; sometimes rolling up our sleeves and getting elbow-deep into something challenging is just what we need. Other times, though, a little more lightness — playfulness — is in order. Here are just a few suggestions to bring some childlike playfulness and lightness to your days:
Move your body to move your mind. Take a walk to clear the cobwebs. Dance break! If it’s possible, you might even do some of your work while you’re in motion (grab your phone and respond to emails, do some writing, or return phone calls on the go).
Listen to some favorite tunes while you’re working on boring or repetitive tasks, or fire up a ‘focus track’ on Spotify or YouTube when you’re doing a focus block of writing or other deep work. Here’s a fav (originally introduced by former PFer Osheyana).
Think back to your childhood for clues to kinds of play you can incorporate into your life now.
Lean into a favorite way of doing something, even though it might take more time and effort. Let that research take a little longer before you write the thing. Spend some time organizing or otherwise personalizing your tasks (colored highlighters, anyone?) before you dive in. Sometimes joyful work is more important (and can even be more effective) than being ruthlessly efficient in the doing.
And to piggyback on #4 — sometimes it’s okay to make a mess. Sometimes making a mess is the only way to see the truth of everything about your project and move it forward. (It’s how I always cleaned my room as a kid: pull stuff out of the closet, off the shelves, even from under the bed — and dump everything in the middle of the room. Then I could see what I needed to sort, organize, and clean.)
These ideas work great for your frogs, but they can also do wonders for your joy work as well.
What’s a favorite way you have found to bring more joy into your day, that you could put into play today?
Other News & Features
Be sure to check out Mary Clare’s post “Creating Our Way Through Tough Times”; like the play ideas above, this has a lot of adjacent thinking around creativity as a source of lightness (and light) during dark times.
In a new “Boss Talks” episode of Whiskey Fridays, on “Fixing the Plane While We’re Flying It” Kate Tyson and Charlie get into how cultural change is a long-term play and why better team habits are a critical component of the process.
- (Pivot, Free Time), (Closing the Confidence Gap), Kristoffer Carter (Permission to Glow), and Pamela Slim (The Widest Net).
Reads and Seeds
My turn for some reads and seeds!
Favorite books at the intersection of games, creativity, and play:
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert (I listen to this one multiple times a year when I need a boost. Charlie’s right about this one: get the audiobook.)
Superbetter, Jane McGonigal (How living a gameful life can help us heal, improve, and grow.)
The Practicing Mind, Thomas M. Sterner (At its core, it’s about loving the process.)
The Art of Learning, Josh Waitzkin (Even if “mastery” isn’t your goal, there’s much to learn from Josh and how he approaches learning and practice.)
Lately I’ve been experimenting with DJ X on Spotify. It’s been interesting to use this new-ish feature and see what sort of musical sets X creates for me. I like the music, sure (I’m sure X starts from your own playlists and frequently played songs). But I’m also curious about how and why X chooses certain songs to include in each set of five or six. It’s (usually) fun to be surprised!
“There’s time enough for seriousness when I get to editing; drafting needs lightness and play.” –note to self, from my morning writing practice
“What do you do when you made promises to yourself that are in conflict with each other? Which ones do you keep?” –me, asking for a friend ;)