My kids are on Summer Break and I technically am too for the rest of this month. It’s a great time for me to put into practice the next Dimension of Wellness: Play/Work Balance.The easy way that I explain this dimension to my students is that Attitude is Everything!
Do you play anymore? As an adult we often look at those who play or who take time off for fun things as irresponsible. WRONG! They’re being most responsible. They’re enriching themselves and nourishing their inner child and happiness.
I find myself stressed sometimes and mad at my kids when they’re having “too much fun”. But, I’m really just envious. I’m envious that they are able to let loose at the drop of the hat. I’m envious that they have so few cares in the world. I’m envious that they can still be entertained by so many simple things in life.
Do I have play in my life? Of course I do! Play for me is now reading and running and doing yoga and writing on this blog. My form of play may not be with “toys” (although I know plenty of adults out there that have their own form of toys), but it’s still play and it still brings me joy. The problem becomes when we forget how to play and have fun. It doesn’t mean we all have to run to the park and jump on the swings (although I still like doing that), but rather look for things that bring us enjoyment.
I still love going for bike rides with my kids. I am looking forward to Team Trivia Nite tomorrow night. We are taking our kids to an amusement park for the first time next week. We have family board games on Sundays when it’s raining. This summer we’re spending tons of time at the beach and the pool and the parks and going to $1 movies and the library and bowling. The ideas for PLAY are endless!
This can be an equally challenging category for adults. Oh how we dread WORK! Almost as much as we dread forced play. But, why? Why does my husband get jealous of me staying home with the kids? Is he jealous of their teachers that have them all day? Was he jealous of our part-time nanny we used to have? What is actually jealous of?
I think, when it comes to work, we’re envious of how others might enjoy their work. Or, of the freedom that some people have in their work.
I tell people all of the time how GREAT my job(s) is(are)! I love teaching! I love sharing knowledge and learning from my students and watching that “ahha” moment happen for some of them. I love watching them grow and the challenge of reaching those students who aren’t quite convinced by me….even by the end of the semester. I love being paid to work out…..I’m not even going to lie about that one. I love that the flexibility of my schedule allows me to drop my kids off each morning and pick them up each day and spend time at their school.
Not everyone can say this about their work. And my college students…..oh many do they hate work. They hate school work and having to have a job. They get mad at me for assignments they’re given. They don’t always realize that I’m the one who has to design, implement, and then grade those assignments. They each have the one assignment to turn into me…..I have 180 of them to grade…..and most of them say the SAME THING! They don’t see work as play.
Needs vs. Wants
At my house they joke about needs and wants because I talk about them all of the time. When my kids say they “need” something, I often ask them if it’s a need or a want. They hate being asked that question. However, the basis of asking that question is that I want them to be happy in the end and to recognize their attitude toward the word “NEED”.
See, play and work are not two different sides of a coin. If you look at how I describe my work up there, it sounds like I’m having fun. Part of it even sounds like what I described as play. But, for play, some people would describe “working out” as work. It’s all about perspective and attitude. If my attitude toward my work is that I enjoy it, then it becomes play. If my attitude toward exercise is that I hate it; it becomes work.
I often use the example of homework for my students. If you want to be a chemist some day, then the home”work” you have to do is part of the learning process and should actually be enlightening and a little exciting. It’s one step closer to reaching your goal of being a chemist. What would happen if we re-framed everything we do in our lives in a more positive light?
What would laundry day look like? Yay! I get to have clean clothes today! Paying bills? I have money in my account so that I get electricity, a car, food, a home! Changing diapers? Look at this beautiful and healthy bundle of joy that I get to watch grow!
So, it’s not just about attitude. Attitude changes a lot of our mental wellness in regards to this dimension. We can stop feeling so negative about all of the NEEDS we have by turning them more into enjoyable activities….and maybe even WANTS (who wants to do the dishes? Me! Clean plates all around!) This dimension is also about BALANCE.
Another needs/wants discussion is about how much time you spend doing certain activities. And whether you’re meeting the Play/Work Balance. Remember in The Shining when Jack Nicholson says, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy“? Yeah, hopefully you’re not ready to go off that sort of deep end. But, could you consider how your play and work balance are effecting your life?
For my college students this breaks down to a skill called TIME MANAGEMENT. And the big benefit to time management is preventing BURNOUT. Consider how much time you’re spending on work and how much on play and how you define those two terms in your life.
What is it that you need more of?
What do you want your life to look like?
How is your attitude impacting this?