Why All Work and No Play Will Suck the Life Out of You

March 4, 2023

You've probably heard the old adage "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". Finding time for fun and joy doesn't just balance the time you spend at the office, they actually make it possible for you to be more efficient and effective when you are there. Ensuring you spend the optimal amount of time prioritizing joy will ensure you avoid being left with regrets later in life.Too many people place play and joy at the bottom of their "to do" list. I'm not a fan of the bucket list since it puts pressure to have big ticket items like skydiving and hiking the Camino on it. Instead, I recommend adopting a lifestyle of joy where you discover the activities that fill your cup then participate in them regularly.As a culture, we seem to be at odds with how we think about play. 30,000 schools in the US have eliminated recess to allow for more academic time awhile companies like Google have offices like Googleplex that foster the feel of a playground at work.

"Happiness is never better exhibited than by young animals such as puppies, kittens, and lambs when playing together like our own children." Charles Darwin

Taking every opportunity to model joy for our children and practice feeling joy ourselves actually helps to rewire the brain for happiness.

Suggestions of Joy Boosting Activities

It would be awesome if as adults we remembered the ease of play yet many of us have a hard time getting back to that childhood feeling of unscripted freedom. Here are a few joy boosters that might spark an idea or two, and remember a joy boosting activity doesn't have to be adventurous- sometimes relaxation is your joy of choice.

  • hiking
  • biking
  • sailing
  • cooking
  • surfing
  • gardening
  • knitting
  • painting
  • riding
  • reading
  • camping
  • boating
  • volunteering
  • singing
  • writing letters
  • clearing clutter

I'd love your suggestions to grow this list. Comment with your joy boosting activity and I will add it.

Watch for These Joy-Suckers

Rushing- Hurrying denies us the time to have experiences of joyful play and if we rush through the moments we do have we lose the chance to savor an experience which adds to the positive impact of playfulness.Martyring- I've been guilty of falling into the trap of this joy-suck. As a mom, it felt like I was doing a good job if everyone else had their needs met. What I've learned is when I set this example I am telling my loved ones how I want to be treated. And for my daughters, I am teaching them that being a good mom means putting yourself last. It has become important to me to share joy with them in a way that models positive living and self-care.Novelty (or lack of novelty) - The research says that for most people joy comes from novel experiences. Something novel that you do occasionally and not on a regular schedule. Others prefer a clear scheduled regular joy. Knowing yourself will help you know if new novel adventures or familiar regular joy moments will be more beneficial to you.Fatigue- It's hard to have fun when you are physically or emotionally depleted.Hunger- It's also hard to have fun when you don't have fuel in your body.

How Can We Compensate for the Joy-Suckers

A team of researchers from Brigham Young found that discussing positive experiences leads to increased well-being and overall life satisfaction. Reliving past moments of play and joy trains your brain to look for similar experiences and the reliving gives you a second dose of the original joy.Giving also primes you for joy. If you are feeling bummed out it's hard to switch that directly to joy. Doing something for someone else promotes a chain reaction of positive chemicals that help reset your mindset.Go outside. The most natural things like sunlight and fresh air are mother nature's medicine. I recommend at least one dose a day- the great thing about this is you cannot overdose!Some of my greatest memories of joy are simple moments of laughing fits in an elevator or floating in the ocean. I'd love to hear your stories about joy. And as I said above, sharing makes the joy more powerful. Please comment below or via social media.

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