My husband walked in the door, put his bag down, got down on his knees and started playing with Kelly, our 5 year-old rescue pup.  He does this every single day, like clockwork. And, like clockwork, Kelly has come to expect it and gets really excited for it. They play and wrestle and have so much fun.

 

I noticed this in a big way just last night. I spend A LOT more time with Kelly- I feed her and make sure she has water first thing in the morning, then take her for her morning walk, let her out throughout the day, AND am sure to give her a treat before I leave the house.  I easily spend 85% more time with Kelly than my husband, but….he plays with her 10x more than I do.

 

Why is that?

 

Well, we both love Kelly (in fact we adore her – we’re newlyweds with no kids, so it’s expected 🙂  Heck, Rick leaves for work each day and I have a home office, so it’s not because I’m not around. And it’s not that I don’t like playing with her, it always makes me laugh.

 

So really, the question isn’t to play or not to play…it’s why am I not finding time to play?!

 

First, we must understand that having FUN is so important to our well-being!  When you are in a “state of play,” you’re actually in an altered state where the brain is freed up to explore the possible, you relax, contextual memory develops, you become a light-hearted problem-solver, and are completely present. On last week’s blog FUN: Why You Need More of It, I shared the 3 different types of fun you can have, and which one has the most impact.  Nothing lights up the brain like play, yet we tend to associate play with children not adults.

 

So again, why am I not making time for this?

 

Well, research shows that as adults we are largely evaluated on our productivity more than anything else. If you’re like me, it’s easy to get to the point where the day becomes a race to get everything done.  I walk past my dog Kelly 30x per day and don’t engage in play. Maybe it’s because any notion of play is seen as indulgent or silly or a block to me getting everything finished before the day is over. I’m not alone though-

 

Play time should actually be a TOP priority…but it’s not.  In fact, 54% of US adults lack “great enthusiasm for life and are not actively and productively engaged with the world.”

 

And this has become the norm! It’s now normal to be stressed and unhappy, and psychology proves it.  Here’s a startling statistic: there are 45,000 articles written on melancholy and depression in specialized US psychology journals.  There are less than 400 on joy.

 

So if you’re like me, you understand that having fun must be taken seriously! Great, now where do you find the time to build in fun?  

 

Well first, understand there is an urgency to play.  We’re used to deadlines, phone calls, meetings being urgent, but fun?

 

From the comments and emails you’ve sent (and from my own experience) are a couple reasons why you’re not having fun:

 

Not knowing HOW to have fun

Check out last week’s blog for more info on how to determine what is fun for you + ideas and examples.

 

Not Having the Time

Play has a biological place, just like sleeping, eating, even breathing. We need to understand there is an urgency to play. We’re used to deadlines, conference calls, and meetings being urgent, but fun really deserves a place on the urgency list as well!  So here are 4 ways to “make more time” for play:

 

  1. Put Your Phone Away for an hour or two each day.  It’s reported that Americans spend 5 hours a day on their mobile devices.  Think about the mindless scrolling through emails, your newsfeed, youtube, etc.  Put your phone in another room, or if you’re really brave shut it off for an hour each day this week.

 

  1. Procrastinate Less. How often are you slammed and too busy for anything because you let things go until the last minute?  Spend just 1 day using Mel Robbin’s 5-second rule to procrastinate less and act more and see how much more time you have.

 

  1. Plan your Play. If you never plan something, it won’t happen. You now realize that play is not the opposite of work, play can actually enhance your focus, productivity and problem-solving.  So sign up for that class, make the dinner plans with your girlfriends, or start bringing your book with you everywhere. Being better at work can actually become the reason for having more fun!

 

  1. Set Boundaries.  It is so important to protect your time, especially with work. It’s too easy to spend all week working and then trying to catch up on the weekends.  So make a promise to yourself to leave work at a certain time, or not open your work laptop after 8pm, or whatever boundary you feel comfortable starting with, and stick to it!  Insert play into your newfound weekend free time and watch how much more efficient you become on Monday mornings!

 

Making time for FUN doesn’t mean you can’t work hard.  You can live a playful life and still make the intelligent, well-informed choices and decisions of a successful woman.  It means taking the time to do more of the things you laugh and smile- whatever that is!

 

The opposite of play is NOT work, it’s depression.

 

Now that you know the HOW to play and WHEN to play, there’s nothing stopping you from engaging in the transformational kind of fun that leads to a healthier, more empowered life.  I know I will, and our house will be home to a much happier, more playful dog. Enjoy!