The Art of Play As Work You Love

Recently, I had a very special time sharing my home for three wonderful weeks with my goddaughter and her life partner from Stockholm and their eleven-month-old, Edgar.  Being with Edgar was a totally absorbing experience-- watching his shining face, bright with the pleasure of going out to the garden to scatter pebbles, dig in the ground, squish fallen plums with his thumb, or examine the hose nozzle with complete attention.  

Was he playing?  Or working hard?  Or both?  He was fully absorbed in all his activities, repeating his actions over and over until he was satisfied in some way.  Only then would he pause to look up and watch a butterfly, or call out, “Ah da da,” clearly meaning “I did it!”

In my ebook, Success with Soul-- Loving Your Livelihood, Living in Balance, I opened my chapter, “Using the Wisdom-Energy of Your Body” in this way:
When you watch well-cared-for babies and toddlers at play, it’s amazing to see the spontaneity of their movements and voice.  When they feel something, they act on it.  Or yell, or gurgle, or sing.  They’re so free inside to express themselves with their whole body selves.  It’s such an enlivening experience to be around them and interact with them!

The point is, when you love what you spend a lot of time doing-- whether you’re playing or working, whether you’re 11 months or 45 or 80 years old-- you radiate a joy of engagement and accomplishment that is as contagious and inspiring to others as it is compelling to yourself.  You are in your own energy, where, as one client told me about her new, consciously chosen profession, “It doesn’t feel like working because I’m involved in learning and doing that fascinates and motivates me.”

Carol Zweck, author of the best-selling book, Mindset, refers to studies where children with an open mindset, when offered the choice of doing easy or more difficult puzzles, chose the latter because engaging in learning that was challenging was what energized them.  It was “work” that was play in its purest form-- apart from the need to look successful to teachers or peers.  As Buddhism states, attachment to outcome is one of the sources of suffering in humans, for which the antidote is to stay in the energetic interplay of oneself with the activity or situation at hand.

In the work I do as a coach-- supporting people in going through the process of making new choices that will let them move in the direction they really want to go-- I’m informed by my many years as a somatic therapist to help them slow down and pay attention.  With each step forward, they also deepen their learning about what they’re feeling in their bodies and their spirit.  The process of change is so much more than making leaps from this job now to that position there.  It’s about the way your whole being is involved in feeling, learning, expressing, and connecting with what is real and true for you.  

Concerning the work you do, it’s really quite amazing how much valuable information you can sense with your body about a career decision or change you want to make by taking time to explore and go deeper into yourself during a time of transition-- rather than just running forward to the next thing.  In fact, time expands and opens possibilities for you when you stop rushing and pay attention to the sound of a bird call resonating, the feel of sunshine on your shoulder, and what you’re really wanting to do now.  

When you really feel the depth of what you’re wanting for yourself, you will then know, with confidence and clarity, what you have to do-- and the path opens before you with surprising ease.  The actions you take will then lead you to greater career and life satisfaction and into the art of play as work you love.