Bill Burnett and Dave Evans wrote Designing your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. They begin by asking the reader to assess four areas of their life: work, play, love, and health. They believe we need to make more time to play in a well lived life.
Burnett and Evans define play as “any activity that brings joy just for the pure sake of doing it. It can include organizational activity or productive endeavors but only if done for fun and not merit.”
As I pondered their invitation to play more, I got a letter from a friend who shared how during the peak of the smoke and fires she studied Japanese writing and worked on Rubik Cube solutions. She and I usually walk and talk together from different locations by phone as part of our play routine. The smoke challenged both of us outdoor people to find new ways to play.
I then listened to a podcast by Brene Brown. Brown had also been thinking about play. She and her family decided to each make a list of things they like to do for play individually. They then did a “Venn Diagram” to see the overlaps. Venn Diagrams don’t sound like play to me but I’ll overlook that. Brown’s family found they liked to hike, play pickle ball, watch comedy TV shows, read and bike ride. They now shape all their vacations around this list instead of trying to see all the sights.
What would be on your play list?
The point that I found most compelling in the Brown podcast was not about the list but about joy. Brown linked play to Ruth Bader Gingsberg. She pondered upon the death of the Supreme Court Justice that…”we don’t have time play, we’ve got so much work to do!” Then she named a key concept which I am embracing full on this week….if we don’t know joy we can’t fight for joy.
If we embrace what RBG stood for: respect, dignity, inclusivity, humor, wisdom, and collaboration there will be more joy in the world. We can fight for these things if we know joy. It is therefore our target for a well lived life. Joy begins with play.
If we know joy we can fight for joy.
What’s on your play list this weekend? Put on your tap dance shoes? build a puzzle? watch a movie? play an instrument? See what happens when you play a little more.
I’m putting my focus on play and joy this weekend. I’m camping and hiking away from the fires amidst colored leaves, sparkling blue waters, and blue skies. I’m writing cards to friends and I’m sitting out under the stars. I am filling up my play and joy tank so that I can return to the important work ahead.