Sunday, June 30, 2013

Work vs. Play

I was cruising through the channel guide on my TV today when I cam upon The Shining—a movie that both terrified and captivated me when I first saw it at 15. I couldn't help but tune in for a bit this afternoon and watch as Jack spiraled into madness.

Sure, he was one of Stephen King's greatest psychopaths. But can't we all relate to the feeling of mental unbalance that ensues when life feels like work, work, work all the time?

Without time for play, even the best of us can go a little crazy. 

And really, when we're our best selves, isn't it because most things feels like play? Like when we're on vacation and everything from a swim in the ocean to the taste of some new, exotic dish has a hint of mischief behind it. That sort of silly, thrilled feeling you'd get when you were a kid. 

According to an article featured on, "Play is just as pivotal for adults as it is for kids."

Being in a playful state of mind and engaging in play-spirited activities sparks joy, creativity, and learning. 

Approaching tasks, relationships, and problems playfully can make them much more enjoyable—and even yield better results than if you tried to tackle them from an all-business mindset.

Life coach extraordinaire Martha Beck has been talking about the need to play for years. She recommends giving yourself permission to embark on an ongoing cycle of rest-until-you-want-to-play, followed by play-until-you-want-to-rest.

I've found that letting myself slip into a slightly goofy place during office hours can make projects feel more like play. Singing and dancing while cleaning or cooking definitely elevate the level of fun associated with each. Even just playing with my cats helps put me into that "pivotal" place of lightness and amusement.

The bottom line is that everything feels better when come at it from place of play rather than work.

Then, like a joyful toddler, I can let myself relax until I'm ready to take on the next round of play.

So tell me—what have you been doing lately that feels like play? Or how can you bring more play into your day-to-day routine? 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sanity Saver #62: Ask for Help

It's come to my attention recently that most people I know are pretty resistant to asking for help when they need it.

Myself included.

Whether the resistance stems from a belief that we "should" be able to handle everything ourselves, or that someone else won't do our to-dos as well as we will, or that asking for assistance is evidence that we're failing, we end up suffocating our own joy by not seeking out aid when we need it.

Not asking for help breeds resentment.

Have you ever had one of those situations in a relationship where you thought the other person should (there's that "should" word again...) just KNOW when you need help and offer to give it to you? So maybe you hold out, tight-lipped and tense just waiting for them to ask, and when they don't, your resentment grows and grows until you can't take it anymore and you blow up, launching a fiery attack on them about how you always have to do everything?

I know this one well. I bit Mr. W's head off because he didn't offer to help with some wedding projects in 2010. But I didn't ask him to either.

We need to be willing to ask for what we want.

Not asking for help can make life lonely.

When you try to tackle everything on your own, it can sometimes feel like you're the only person on the planet, condemned to bear the burden of your stress in solitude. Sharing the fact that you need help (even if the person listening can't give it to you in that moment) can ease some of the suffering. Knowing that there are people around you who care and who are willing to hear you out, in and of itself, makes the load easier to carry.

The other byproduct of seeking out help when we need it is that, again, even if the people around us can't be there in the moment, they may be able to shower us with compassion. "I've totally been there," can be a really great thing to hear when you're feeling overwhelmed and all alone. 

Not asking for help diminishes what you have to offer the world. 

Think about it: when you're totally overloaded by your task list, how do you show up in the various areas of your life? Do you have the time and energy to be the kind of friend, employee, spouse, or parent you want to be?

I know I don't.

When we don't ask for help, we can't give where it matters. And that leads to mediocrity, which isn't exactly the kind of performance I think any of us want to be known for. (Except when it comes to shower cleaning. I'll take a mediocre rating on that one.)

After going for a very long time without seeking assistance on a growing list of things in my life, this past week I asked for help. It was truly amazing how much better it made me feel. And I ended up getting to spend some time with family and friends, which was a huge bonus.

Where are you holding back on asking for help in your life right now? And how much better would you feel if you had someone to lend you a hand?