For a good portion of my life, work and play have been on opposite ends of the spectrum. Either I was doing productive, necessary work or I was free and playing; but never were they combined. How could they be? In my mind they were opposites.
Which isn’t surprising since even the definitions for these words put them at odds.
- Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.
- Mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment.
- Activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, esp. by children.
- The conducting of an athletic match or contest.
Now, however, the idea that work and play are opposites doesn’t fly for me. The change occurred when I had my son and he started going to a Montessori school at 7 months old. My son was doing sitting work and block stacking work. At one point he spent months doing container work which involved opening and closing containers that have different types of tops. In Montessori the children are curious and they are driven by their enjoyment of exploration and discovery. It’s also very purposeful because this exploration is how children discover their world, and how they perfect skills such as motor coordination, executive functions, troubleshooting, personal responsibility, and socialization. Every activity they engage in is very much their work. This is where my personal definitions of work and play changed. I now see the words this way: Work has a purpose or result that is external in nature and play is about our inner passion and enjoyment.
So here is my question: When did we as a society decide that work should be divorced from enjoyment, curiosity, and personal expression?
In David Elkind’s article “The Values of Outdoor Play” he postulates that the requirements for a full happy and productive life consist of 3 things: Play, Love and Work.
“Play, love, and work are the innate drives that power human thought and action throughout the life cycle. Play is the drive to transform the world to meet our personal needs. Love is the drive to express our desires, feelings, and emotions. Work is the drive to adapt to the demands of the physical and social world. “–David Elkind
He goes on to categorize activities from this perspective:
- Love is something one undertakes of their own initiative.
- Play encompasses personal expression of the activity
- Work comprises the products produced that are both original and useful to all.
With this new information let us re-evaluate what it means to play and to work. Our priorities get confused when we separate the two. At some point we decided that earning money at a job is a high priority, but taking care of our physical body is optional. We started to see being busy, stressed and always on the move as success. While relaxation, enjoyment and mental calm we regard as unproductive. It’s time to turn our work into play and our play into work. Or stated slightly differently: Our work should be enjoyable and fulfilling and our play should be honored for how purposeful it truly is. Our play is of the highest importance for our well-being and creative spirit. Embrace it and activate your highest potential. No more Work vs. Play. Let’s make it Work + Play … + Love.
Combine them, embrace them and live a full, happy and productive life!
3 Comments Add yours
I really like this post 🙂
Your sentiment has been put across really well 🙂
Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
Wonderful and timely…what a great post! Thank you for such wise insight. Why don’t I ever process this way ❤