March 2020

Play MORE! And find your purpose in life

boy with head in mouth of T-rex plastic dinosaur

Your life depends on it!

Remember the awesome things you did as a kid?

Like . . .

Riding your bike downhill at top speed. Your special super-hero cape flapping behind you in the wind.

Building a den for you and your best friends. Hidden from the world with a stash of biscuits and sweets.

Jumping in mud, leaping over logs, running through the trees straight into the claws of a giant T-Rex. Then sticking your head into it’s mouth, cos . . . why not?!

Those were the days!

So where’s all that gone?

Why don’t you play more as an adult?


Why don’t you?

Yes, I can hear the excuses.
We’ll get to those later.

But before we do.
I’ve something to share with you . . .

It’s not just okay to play,
it’s essential.

So, fancy having some fun and exploring?

Let’s go on an adventure to unearth,

  1. What is play and why does it exist
  2. Why fun isn’t the same as play
  3. Excuses that stop you welcoming more play into your life with a big-hearted hug
  4. Why play’s SO important, and how making space for it will switch your life from okay, to having passion and purpose


What is play and why does it exist?

As a kid, you just played.
When you saw an opportunity, you grabbed it.
You didn’t ask yourself permission.
No one told you what to do.
Or gave you instructions ‘how to play’.
Play had no rules.
You just did it.
It came naturally.
It was automatic.

Play was an experience that brimmed with curiosity, mystery, excitement, adventure, and magical wonder 🤩

You were immersed, carefree, lost in the moment.
It often centred round silliness, laugher and joy.
You loved it!

But in the background, play was doing important things.
Play’s powerful stuff.

It was shaping your brain.

It was how you learnt to interact with others.
You discovered how the world works.

Play opens your mind to explore things from a different angle.
It stimulates problem solving and new possibilities.

Innovation and creativity are born.

Why fun isn’t the same as play

You might be thinking
But I have fun, isn’t that the same as play?


Fun gives you a 'Ready Brek glow',
like watching a film, hanging out with mates, in-jokes with your partner or colleagues, exercise . . .

Fun can be amusement, a light-hearted moment of joy, a short-lived thing.

This is great, but doesn’t tap into the same life enriching place that play gives you access to.

Play’s different.
It goes deeper.

(and I don’t mean zoning out on video games!)

Play generally has a purpose. It’s deliberate.
Play is active, not passive.
It includes creativity, exploring, problem solving.
Play removes boundaries and limitations.

Play is a portal to the truest form of YOU.
Your individuality.
Often moments of play are when you feel most alive.

Play is doing something specific for you for an extended period of time.
When playing, you’re  immersed.
It’s engrossing stuff.
You’re in the 'flow'.

A flow state, also known as being in the zone , is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energised focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
In essence, flow is characterised by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one's sense of time.

Excuses not to play

We don’t stop playing because we grow old;
We grow old because we stop playing.

- George Bernard Shaw

So where’s play gone from your life?

As you got older, playtime got packed away.
It slowly trickled out of your life.
You began to feel guilty for playing.
And your anti-play excuse list started to form . . .

I haven't got time!
Unless you’ve squillions in the bank or you’re retired, then you’ve work to do.
You’re busy, busy, busy!
If you wasted time playing, you’d never get anything important done.

What's the point? It's unproductive.
If an activity doesn’t serve an obvious purpose, like making money, teaching you a skill, or impressing others, then you shouldn’t do it.
It’s a waste.

It's inappropriate.
Sometimes play might be inappropriate, like in a work meeting, but this excuse doesn’t work all the time!

What'll people think?!
If people see me playing, I’ll be laughed at.
I’ll lose credibility.

If you're going to play, at least double up and kill two birds with one stone.
Okay, I’ll allow myself to play but only if it achieves something else at the same time.

I’m sure there are more ;)

Did you know, Google allows employees to spend 20% of their work time on anything that interests them.
To tap into their talents.
They’re encouraged to play.
To do something they’ll learn from and will spark their creativity.
It turns out, many of these play-time projects turn into massive breakthroughs for Google!

Imagine doing more of this in your life.

So let’s challenge your excuses and expose the truth about play.

Why play is essential to find your purpose in life

Play brings you energy.
It taps into your individuality.
It creates motivation and purpose.

Play’s liberating.
It’s a safe place to let go of control, your insecurities and drop the mask.
No self-consciousness here!

Play’s simple, uncomplicated.
There’s space for mistakes and mess ups!
And for your brain to ask lots of questions.

Play’s relaxing.
You lose the worry and destress.
Fun, laughter, silliness - they’re all allowed!

And the payoff of these?

You get creative and this radiates through all areas of your life.
Your productivity increases through innovation and problem solving.
You heal body and mind resulting in better health and fitness.
You improve the way you communicate which builds rewarding and healthy relationships.
You bring passion and joy into your life.

These create a sense of optimism, possibility and purpose.

Studies show that those who don’t make time for play are prone to depression and feeling stuck in a rut.

When you think of all these positive impacts on your life - work, career, family, relationships, finances . . . play becomes a MUST.

There is a kind of magic in play.
What might seem like a frivolous or even childish pursuit is ultimately beneficial.
It's paradoxical that a little bit of 'nonproductive' activity can make one enormously more productive and invigorated in other aspects of life.
When an activity speaks to one's deepest truth, it is a catalyst, enlivening everything else.

- Stuart Brown

Are you ready to welcome more play back into your life?

Here’s what to do.
It’s simple.

Allow yourself to be a kid.
Good old-fashioned, no holds barred, immersive play.
Pure enjoyment.

That golden state of being your true self which is often buried deep.

Deliberately create time and space to play.
Do an activity that’s different to your normal routine.

It might be something you used to do that you could bring back into your life.
A passion. Something you loved like a hobby or sport.
Or something completely new that you’ve always wanted to try.

The important thing is to lose yourself in it.

Go stick your head in a dinosaur’s mouth. 🦖
Create passion and purpose in your life.

Stay inspired, take action, keep adventuring!

Matt Ainsley

life adventurer and unconventionalist

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