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This Is What Happens When You Forget To Play

The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression -Brian Sutton-Smith

Sometimes I forget to play

I know when it happens because I wake up and feel like my soul gained weight in all the wrong places. Heavy. I watch my shadow pace around, it seems anxious.

But when I play, time becomes invisible. I forget about goals and lists and who didn’t call me back. I become a human being. Not just a human doing.

An elementary school teacher from Boston moved to Finland to teach. She noticed the kids there had far fewer behavior issues compared to her students in America.

The difference? Kids in Finland get two hours of recess each day. For every 45 minutes in a classroom, they get 15 minutes of play. That’s it. More time for kids to be kids. More time for beings to be.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a school bell that reminds them to take a recess. My boss doesn’t walk over to my desk every hour and say, “Put down your work and get outside! Jonny’s at the tetherball court telling everyone you can’t beat him.”

So, how do you remember to play? What makes time invisible for you? Do you have a recess bell in your life?

“Adults are just obsolete children.” -Dr. Seuss

Every day I wake up and try to become less-obsolete. I look for new ways to play. New ways to create. New ways to keep my soul light.

Here are a few ways that work for me


Laughter is orgasm for the soul. Do it often, even if you’re by yourself.

If you aren’t laughing enough, try watching a few minutes of stand up comedy on youtube. If that doesn’t work, stand in front of a mirror and see how silly you look while frowning (this always works for me).

Don’t compete with robots

In the game of productivity, you’ll always lose to a robot. Human’s skill level in “getting things done” is obsolete.

“Organization, optimization, output, output, output!” (There’s already an app for that.)

Here’s what YOU can do better than a robot: create meaningful experiences, feel joy, have flaws, say, “I love you too.”


Go make something. Anything. Paint a picture, write a poem, draw mustaches on celebrities in magazines.

People like to say, “Remove expectations when you make art.”

I say, “Expect it to suck.”

Tell yourself, “I’m going to write the worst short story anyone has ever read.”

It’s ok because when we create, our brains start moving in new directions. It pushes the problems we’re facing out of focus. This allows our subconscious to work on those problems. Our subconscious can’t work it’s magic unless our conscious brains are out of the way.

Stay interested

Don’t be complacent in what makes you excited for life. Most people wait until things are going horribly wrong before they reinvent themselves, but life is always a moving target.

We need to always seek new hobbies, new curiosity, and new ways of thinking. Playtime = Renewed interest in life.

We need to practice, we need to focus, we need to get to work

But it won’t mean anything unless we remember to PLAY.