Did you have fun today? If anyone had asked me this question a few years back, I would have thought of them as trivial. While I was finding my feet in the coaching business and sharpening my ability as a coach, my teacher used to end our session saying, “Play with it …have fun.” My mind used to send away those words immediately. How can I have fun when I am building a business, a career, working with people and achieving results? I need to work hard and harder and then a bit more to reach my goal, isn’t it? Fun and play was a sin in my world when it came to working or taking care of responsibilities. I trust most of you look at it differently. But sometimes I meet clients who share the same frequency like I used to have and for them and all of you who equalize hard work and focus with a severe intensity I wish to share my newly found perspective here.
Is it possible to be disciplined, focussed, hardworking yet playful and joyous at the same time? I would have mocked it a few years back but not anymore. I realized I was pouring intensity into everything I did, even while hosting a party and though it was undoubtedly not killing me, I ended up feeling drained almost all the time. I could also sense people being uncomfortable around me. As ridiculous as it may sound, but honestly it felt like if I loosened up, then things will go awry, and my intensity was holding the fort.
Why do we have to be so uptight and dismal on the inside when we are thinking of meeting a deadline at work? Why do I have to seem to feel like carrying a truckload of weight on my head while getting kids ready for school? How does feeling agitated and grumpy help in managing a wilful team at the office? How does it become useful to us when everything looks larger and seems more massive?
So, how about replacing those emotions with joy or pure pleasantness? How about looking at everything with playful eyes? Remember the last time you did something feeling cheerful and playful? How was the experience?
I took up a project last year, and that was to maintain effective energy levels through the day. Amongst other lifestyle changes, I decided to work on my ability to bring fun and playfulness in my work. I distinctly remember one moment if not the moment when I felt it change. It was one of those days when my morning began with a text from my cook that she cannot come in that day. It was a packed day, and I am a pretty old school when it comes to food and prefer home cooked stuff. I sensed a heaviness in my body and irritability in my mind as I walked into the kitchen. Thanks to the project, I was aware of what was happening with me, and my teacher’s sentence echoed. That moment I just glanced at the refrigerator and said to myself, “Let’s play” and began humming my song. I felt so creative in that instant that by the time I was done I was almost saying, what next?
This is not the fun we may wait to have on a weekend or a Friday evening. Nor am I speaking of being an entertainer. I am talking of functioning from a place of fun that gives us of a sense of being alive, lightness. The latest from the avenger’s franchise is a hit with most of its fans, and one of the reasons I am told is because of the effortless playfulness the characters bring on the screen while they are on their mission.
Someone once told me that the journey is as important as the destination and that got me thinking. Life is a journey, and I believe we nurture our life and work by the energy we are exuding. If I am sad, angry or desperate then whatever I do seems to be like a task, a chore, a must do. However, when I am full of wonder, playful, joyous or even just curious, then, my experience changes. We all want to feel happy at the end of the day, so why not use happiness as a fuel to create more happiness and spread it? We got to do what we got to do, be in places and situations. We can choose to be miserable and keep compounding it or decide to be cheerful. These are emotions that refuel your sense of liveliness like a cash back policy. Today I find myself doing tasks with much more ease and comfort. I sense my creativity is better and my energy levels are fantastic. I am completing stuff rather than putting it off and how I am able to connect with my relations is beautiful. I am just at the beginning of this and am sure there are miles to go.
In my journey what I realize is that bringing fun and playfulness is a way of thinking that engages my body also. It is a very simple, easy way to be, and can be mastered with practice. I feel it is a conscious choice that we need to make every day. Being grim and serious-minded is very comforting as we have millions of reasons to be upset every day. But the real brave choice is when we choose to be light-hearted and cheerful at heart while we still have millions of reasons not to.
Today I choose to create fun in my work and how I look at things. It can be learned! Here are some ways I do them
- Fall in love with whatever you do. Find a reason to enjoy whatever you are doing and notice how differently you look at it.
- Take a moment to centre yourself at regular intervals through the day. Step into a state/ sense of playfulness or wonder or joy, or just curious.
- Play your own music through the day and let the music in your head guide you. I have my own list of favourites songs that I hum through the day.
- Laugh at yourself and try to find humour in
- Think enough, don’t overthink, and flow with the moments.
“Remain playful. The moment we take ourself too seriously is the moment we get lost in the story of the mind. The self is fluid and flowing, it has nothing to prove”
– Nicole Kavner Miller