(This should really be called 'Stop Being Such an Adult and Go Play' but I deliberately kept it short in an attempt to help you appreciate the glory of the couple in the picture above. Can't see them? Click on the title of the post.)
I believe one of the biggest tragedies of adulthood is the fact that we allow our responsibilities to take over our lives and we forget about play. We get so caught up in progressing to the next milestone that we lose track of the fact that enjoying ourselves for the sake of enjoying ourselves is a crucial part of living that perfectly well-balanced life that we so desperately seek. We get so caught up in the rat race that it's easy for play to take a back seat because the benefits of it aren't as tangible as let's say a promotion or a clean house.
In my opinion, the most powerful benefits of play are spiritual in nature and can therefore be easily overlooked when our day to day life offers us little opportunity for spirituality unless we make a conscious effort to cultivate it.
So what are the spiritual benefits of play that make it so important?
Traditional eastern forms of spirituality teach us that enlightenment is a state of constant bliss and that our feelings are good indicators of our alignment with our higher selves. Those who are further along their path to spiritual enlightenment experience a sense of joy regardless of what life throws at them because they remain judgement-free and connected to themselves, each other, and everything around them. In other words, the single most important reason why play is important is because play is a powerful manifestation of the joy that connects you to your higher self.
When we play, we get back in touch with the side of ourselves that knows and feels that life is beautiful. When you're by yourself in the car and your favorite song comes on the radio and you sing it at the top of your lungs there's no expectation that the guy in the car sitting next to you in traffic is going to give you a standing ovation when you're finished is there? No. There's no agenda, there’s no reason, things just flow and you sing because you feel like it and because that song is simply irresistible. In my mind, for a second you experience that bliss I mentioned earlier.
I know most of us have been there so my question is simple... Just how good does belting that song feel? I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that most people would say amazing. So why on earth wouldn’t we prioritize and purposefully cultivate more of that feeling in our lives?
Joy is also the fuel of true creativity.
The more self-aware you become, the clearer the correlation between your experience of joy and your overall spiritual progress becomes. Not just that, you will also notice that your most inspired moments come from the times you give yourself permission to truly enjoy life because you are connecting with the highest spiritual expression of your being which is the joyful you. As I like to call it, the you minus all the fuss.
While everybody probably has a different definition of what creativity means to them there is one thing I know for sure—we do our greatest work when we are personally invested and genuinely interested in what we’re doing. When our work is a reflection of who we are when we are happy it doesn’t feel like work. Better yet, when the work is a catalyst for our happiness, we relish in the effort because it engages us at our deepest level and we find that energizing. In my case, the experience is such that I lose track of time and sometimes forget to even eat or sleep. The outcome always feels like more than just work completed, it's bigger. When you really think about it, creativity is really just your intelligence, well… at play. Now ain't that a thing?!
Great, so what to do?
Find your path to whatever success means to you, stick to it and work hard to get as far as you can. Yes, by all means follow that path. On the way though, remember to admire the view, stop and smell the roses, surf that wave, have that cup of coffee, dance like an idiot, sing at the top of your lungs, and take it all in while you get to where you’re going because it's bound to be a helluva ride.