16 Dec Embodied Investing: Why Play Matters
I find myself wanting to play.
Not the “I’ll get down on the floor for twenty minutes and play Legos with my niece…” sort of play either (although Legos are fun). I’m talking aboutbeing what I want to be – without any expectations, limitations, or structure.
Play softens the rigidities of my analyzing mind. Play helps me think / feel / imagine big possibilities. Play helps me massage the irascible nature of life, helps me flow. Play makes me nimble in the evolving dance with business / investment.
Yes, play is good…
Before I go any further, I encourage you to review how you feel about yourself, or any adult, making a statement like that.
If he or she isn’t referring to the preserved realms of adult play, like sports or pool or chess, and instead is expressing a desire for the pastimes of our earliest years – like imaginative storytelling, improv dancing, or wrapping ourselves in several rolls of foil to become a giant breakfast burrito – do you find yourself feeling resistant? Puzzled? Opposed even?
Many adults do. Many of us have lost an appreciation for play, and no longer understand its importance for our overall wellbeing– evident by the near extinction of it in our busy adult lives.
It’s understandable of course, with the ever-growing commitments to our families, jobs, friends, and financial goals crowding our schedules. It’s the big pushes and daily duties that overwhelm any lurking urges to be intentionally unproductive.
Who has time for that?
Interestingly though, research is showing that whether we think we have time for it or not, that we should make time for it.
Studies have revealed that playing, for children and adults alike, helps keep creative and problem solving areas of the brain active and strong. Indeed, it’s why we see some of the most innovative companies of our time (think Apple and Google) putting spiral slides, game rooms, and pink flamingos at their various corporate offices.
They encourage play because they know its value.
And this value is available for all of us. It may not mean that your office or firm should install a ball pit on the first floor, but it could mean that time is purposefully set aside for unstructured and creative fun.
Consider the child who plays more with the box than the toy that came in it.Playful minds look at something with an interest in what they can make of it, over an interest in what it was actually made for.
For me, play is not a luxury – it’s a part of my commitment to self care. I’ve seen goats and dogs and even pigeons play well into their adulthood, so why must we ‘age out’ of such fun? I think when we abandon play, we abandon a part of ourselves.
By carving out time for play in my own life, I find my whole self getting a chance at expression. When I ignore my desires to play aimlessly on the harmonium, break out the crayons, explore archetypal sounds like “la, ma, na, ne, wa,” or roll around on the floor, it’s as though a part of my being gets partitioned off.
I know from experience that I am more effective, charismatic, insightful, and relaxed if I don’t ignore these urges, and instead encourage the full expression of myself. The effects translate into all areas of my life, and I show up for my meetings and engagements with a refreshed and relaxed mind.
Allowing ourselves time to play – to be creative, silly, or fun – is giving ourselves access to a relaxed and altered state from which all areas of our lives benefit.
By committing time – even just 15 minutes – to playing in our daily lives, the experience of our various responsibilities and investment decisions becomes lighter. Perhaps it’s our creative element being activated, or simply the variation from our normal state of mind, but regardless of source – playing makes life easier.
So as you approach some time off with your friends and family this holiday season, I hope you too will enjoy doing something aimless, adventurous, and merry.