Redefine work

October 11 2012

It’s no wonder we consider work very separate from play. It’s hounded into our heads since we’re able to talk.

We watch Dad grimace as he races to work, and Mom moan about never having enough time (and she doesn’t look like she’s having fun). We’re given hours to learn, write, read, and make things. We have separate hours to talk, move, go outside, discover, and mess around. Recess becomes our gold.

Once the school bell rings freedom, homework hours stand between us and our reward: time to play and make mischief. We quickly learn that good behavior and productivity yields more play time. Decisions are easy.

Then we’re told to find jobs. Quite naturally, we look for ones that bestow upon us the right to play. We look for more money, more time, more vacation hours to do the things we really want to do.

“Work” becomes the vehicle through which play is possible, our income, our sacrifice. Worse yet, boredom. “Play” stands for our hobbies, our leisure, our rest.

Darlene Cohen, author of The One Who Is Not Busy, spells it out:

“We describe our activity as either ‘busy’ or ‘not busy,’ either productively working or taking a blissful break from working. But actually it is possible to experience both ‘busy’ and ‘not busy’ simultaneously, to reach beyond the labels and connect with our work in a way that is deeply satisfying. What this requires is that we develop the breadth of vision and the mental flexibility to be both busy and not busy at the very same time.”

Is it possible to shift our perceptions and redefine what’s work and what’s play?

Can you turn one into the other and find joy in each?