As we get in gear for fall, there are lots of checklists and to-do items. Now is the time that many of us focus on achieving goals, maximizing our efficiency and managing our time. In fact, for this coach, September is one of the busiest months of the year! It seems every is navigating a big change or gearing up for a big opportunity.

Did you know that one of the most effective ways to build resilience and cultivate creativity is…to PLAY?!

In Brené  Brown’s book The Gifts Of Imperfection, she devotes an entire chapter on how to cultivate play and rest – and how it is part of living what she calls a Wholehearted Life. 

She quotes Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist, clinical researcher and founder of the National Institute for Play (who knew?):

The opposite of play is not work – the opposite of play is depression. Respecting our biologically programmed need for play can transform work. It can bring back excitement and newness to our job. Play helps us deal with difficulties, provides a sense of expansiveness, promotes mastery of our craft, and is an essential part of the creative process. Most important, true play that comes from our own inner needs and desires is the only path to finding lasting joy and satisfaction in our work. In the long run, work does not work without play.

Let that sink in:

“Work does not work without play.”

At the time when I first encountered Brene and her work, I was the mom of a one and three year old and regularly set up watercolors or playdough for them to play with. 

I’d watch.
I’d encourage. 
I’d tidy up. 
But I wouldn’t play. 

It actually didn’t occur to me to play, even though they had asked me. For some reason, I resisted. 

For many of us, play ended when we became adults. We stopped playing games, creating art, writing or even playing on the swings.

When I read that play is one of the pathways to living a wholehearted life, I decided that I would engage, rather than watch.

The shift had begun:  I started looking for ways to be okay with playing.  It didn’t come naturally, but it was fun all the same.

As a result, we now

  • wrestle, play tag or a game of chase-catch-tickle (I’m a boy mom. Wrestling is their love language.)
  • have dance parties on the deck at the lake (Pro tip:  give everyone a glow stick — or five — and we’ll find the energy for hours to keep dancing!)  
  • have a “fancy dinner” where we pretend we are at a restaurant at home, complete with candles, classical music, and terrible Brittish accents. 
  • take turns on the swing
  • splash them with my cartwheel off the diving board (it isn’t pretty, but it is playful.)

Play didn’t come naturally, I’ll admit.  I’m more playful now. I’m more willing to jump into a scene and enjoy it, rather than be content as a bystander.  

And play doesn’t just apply when you are with kids. I am here to tell you that you can play as an adult. Maybe you could organize a game night with your friends? Maybe you’ll get creative with coloring, painting, cooking or some other “get messy” project? Maybe for Halloween you’ll dress up and have fun playing the part? Let loose a little and see what happens. 

As you dive into the final quarter of the year, I encourage you to consider remember that “work does not work without play” and build in some time for you to enjoy yourself, be creative and let loose. 

What could play look like for you? I encourage you to find some play in your day TODAY. And hit reply to let me know what it is!