Playfulment: finding fullfilment through the art of play. Play is powerful. It creates connections, destroys barriers, and unleashes the joy that is within us so that we may discover our true nature, that part of us that is wild and free, unencumbered by fear, ever present, abundant, joyous, fulfilled.
If you had to boil down your life’s purpose, your raison d’être, to just one word, what would that word be? For me it would be play.
I was reminded of my life word a few days ago encountering a mother dog and her three puppies along a dirt track walking through the Turkish countryside. Throughout the journey from London I have encountered many dogs and each time they have been a sign to remember to play!
Play may sound like an unusual word to have as one’s reason for existence. After all, aren’t we supposed to grow up and be serious adults? After all, isn’t life not all about fun and games? Isn’t play such a frivolous activity? Well…I think play is very important as it has taught me a lot that I may not have learned otherwise.
Dreaming And Then Letting Go
Play reminds me that life doesn’t have to be too serious, and does so just at the moments when I start to become heavy and weighed down.
It teaches me about pushing boundaries, about dreaming and then making them happen not with determination but joy. It is more about letting go and trusting then holding onto dreams and strangling them with fear.
Breaking The Rules
It is about dreaming the impossible and making them possible. Play breaks down boundaries, it creates joy and creates bonds.
Play is a mighty powerful creative tool. It can bring out your resourcefulness and to dream beyond your limited thoughts and capabilities and see what may not have manifested yet.
Play is the stuff of genius. It takes play to invent. Tinkering is playing. Hobbies to many is there idea of play. For others sports become their form of adult play.
Just watching as the young mother dog was rolling around playing with her puppies I was overwhelmed with joy. I just felt how happy this little canine family was.
They all looked very healthy. The puppies looked nice and plump considering that this little family pack was far away from any town or village. They were free to roam and had to use their nose and resourcefulness to survive.
Play Makes Perfect Happiness
Some may argue that practice makes perfect, yet I prefer to say that it is play that makes us perfectly happy.
Practice doesn’t have the feeling of joy. It is hard to feel motivated simply ‘practising’. Yet if perfecting a skill through practise could be transformed into play, then we can become more motivated to continue to hone the skill necessary to succeed. I would rather not have the pressure of practising for perfection and instead play for perfect happiness.
Play also takes the pressure off trying to get it right the first time. When little puppies fall over wrestling with their mother or between themselves, they don’t stop and whine, they just become more emboldened to keep playing. So too, because playing is so much fun there is no motivation to stop and focus on the negative – so-called failure.
In fact, if we can look at success as a game, then failures are seen in perspective of the big picture. Failures don’t exist, they are just times when you fall down in a wrestling match and get up again ready for the next ruff, I mean, rough and tumble.
Play Your Way To Success
Playing can help you push through challenges. For instance, just yesterday, one of the fellow walkers was trying to psyche themselves up for a long hard 37km day of walking ahead. It was after almost a week where we had walked 30km plus days consecutively.
I suggested that she not focus on her tired and aching legs. Instead focus on the adventure that lay ahead as we reach the crest of a hill and discover an incredible sweeping view, or explore a village on our way. It was this game of discovery that keeps me moving forward.
Discovery Through Play
Play opens one up to discovery and learning. There is tremendous joy when we are open to this.
Learning is a form of creativity. The act of discovery can happen through opening a book and reading where the story may lead you. Discovery can also happen through physically moving and exploring your world. Curiosity can lead you along stitching thoughts together till you discover something you never knew before.
I find word play particularly fascinating. Unfortunately my fellow travelers have had a few months of being subjected to my dad jokes, my play on words, my punny sense of humour.
Sometimes I will throw in puns in conversations that may go over people’s heads (or maybe they are ignoring me) and inside I am secretly giggling.
Word play is a form of verbal playing where two or more ideas banter and wrestle with each other and the laughter comes from discovering the connections.
Play can help us test boundaries. We are often limited by our thoughts. Yet when we allow for play in our lives we invite questions like ‘what if?’. What if we pushed beyond our comfort zone? What if we went further? What will happen? Play becomes a way to ford the river of fear and see what is on the other side.
Play can open up new frontiers of thought, possibilities, destinies. Play invites us to be courageous, to throw caution to the wind, to pounce, to wrestle light-heartedly with the future.
Play in fact can dispel seriousness. It opens us up to the incredible opportunities that abound when we aren’t tied down by this seriousness and set outcomes.
Along the walk I have seen many dogs chained up or fenced in. I felt deep compassion for them as they burst out in rage barking and snarling behind barriers. I think it is neglect to leave a dog chained all day or penned in, especially without adequate shelter and water.
Dogs are such free spirits and what I have seen is that stray or street dogs have an incredible sense of freedom and energy. I am able to relate to their sense of freedom.
They live from moment to moment. I have noticed when I have felt truly alive were the times when I was able to trust in the present moment. They were times when I threw caution to the wind and followed my nose.
Play opens up our synchronicity receptors, our sixth sense to trust when a total stranger invites you for a coffee, dinner, a place to rest, a conversation. It opens up your heart to living.
There have been many times where I have succumbed to seriousness, where I was the dog chained up behind a fence. That dog that paces back and forth, their spirit sapped away by commitments and seriousness, resenting it all, burning with rage that I had not allowed myself to just trust.
As children we play the game of make believe. We may pretend we are doctors and nurses, or a builder or train driver, maybe a cowboy. It is through make believe that we can see beyond ourselves and feel compassion for others, or simply see things from a different perspective.
Play, I think, can make you wise and empathetic. It can help you through seeing things differently really develop your creativity. It can also help you push through fear, as you ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’.
Boundless Abundance and Joy
Not only your creativity to see things differently, but coupled with the freedom and joy that play brings, it can help you manifest abundance. I have working as an interior designer used play not only to fine tune my creativity but also to be able to set and reach and often attain what initially looked like unrealistic goals.
Play allows you to see things ‘lightly’. To not be so attached to goals, as the joy of play inspires one to find solutions to challenges, to be resourceful. It becomes a game and it is in the game that the real magic happens. Playfulment is the magic that happens when we are not focused on the end but ‘are in the game’.
Focusing too much on the end result, the destination, can kill the game. The game is where the fun happens. The journey. It is in this game that we barrack for our team, we shout words of encouragement, we feel their tumbles and their elation at scoring a gaol or a try. We know it is a game and although it may look to others we take the game too serious, that we may be a raving fan, we know deep down that it is a game.
Play is very important in that it helps us to make connections. Not only do we learn new skills connecting us to new possibilities, on the way we connect with others. When puppies play fight they are honing their motor skills and at the same deepening their relationships with each other. Play is a powerful connector.
Play can also help you through discovery as well as repetition to develop new skills. When we sit in the afterglow of playing, in that quiet moment of reflection, lessons embed themselves within us. This quiet relaxed time provides fertile ground for ideas to push through the earth and grow in the light of the afterglow.
Throughout my journey both on the pilgrimage and in life I am given constant reminders of the power of play. Even though this may or may not be your life word, introducing more play in your day can become a powerful way to create more joy and fullfilment in your life.
Invite more spontaneity in your life. Do something silly that you can look back on and laugh. Go skinny dipping at night time. Climb a tree. Skip down the street. Tell a joke. Monkey or horse around. Stop being so damned serious!
Most of the time my wife can’t tell when I am being serious or not. I try not to take life too seriously. Play helps me to see the light side of life and see lessons instead of getting too bogged down in seriousness. She is long suffering though, as given an opportunity, I am prone to make up ‘facts’ about a subject and she isn’t sure or not if she should believe me.
Find ways to burst out with laughter and joy. Create opportunities to play. Set yourself games to play, not goals. Invite through light-heartedness for synchronicity to enter and create magic.
Be the playful street dogs, free to roam, to discover, to trust that they will be provided for. Unchain yourself, let go of perceived barriers, unleash your light upon the world. It is play time. The world needs your light as do you.
Be like the dog I met along the beach last week in Greece after a 35km walk…
We had hacked our way through dense thorny scrubland and forest, over hills and mountains, and down to the coastal town of Alexandroupoli. From here we were to be driven to our accommodation. I chose to walk along the beach to the accommodation instead.
It was a beautiful walk with the sun slowly setting over the sea. I soon was accompanied by a black dog wandering on the beach. As I walked he would pick up a washed up plastic bottle and toss it up in the air as if it was alive, then catch it and carry it following me along the beach.
He didn’t want anything but to connect with me. We were both just happy to travel together for awhile. To spend a moment together walking without expectation, to be free, to trust that tomorrow will be fine. Allow play to fill you with joy, to experience playfulment.