What’s the difference between work and play? My first reaction to this question was that we inherently ‘like’ to play and ‘dislike’ working. I know that there are a growing number of you out there who like working, and there are an equal number of you who have never liked playing, whether it was sports, cards or acting. Setting the exceptions aside, let’s look at the basic aspects of work and play for a moment.

Actually, let’s not set you aside. Let’s use the fact that there are so many ‘exceptions’ as a guide to help us see what dynamic is actually functioning here. Maybe it isn’t the act that defines whether we are working or playing. Maybe it is rather the way that we perceive the act that categorizes it as work or play.

When we play, most of us have fun. We enjoy the temporary activity of participating in a game. Even though there are rules, we don’t take the game seriously because we know that ‘it is just a game’. We know that we are just playing the role of a tennis player for a short time, and then when the game is over, we go back to being ourselves. We don’t always identify ourselves with the game, or our role in the game. We derive enjoyment from the fact that we can use our creativity, instincts, intuition, rhythm and imagination to play our part in the game. So if all of these things are so much fun, then why are there some people who dislike playing sports or board games? It’s because they take the game too seriously.

Once we begin to perceive the game as something we must win and decide that failure is bad, the game then turns into work. Instead of allowing our instincts and intuition to guide us, we constantly calculate risks, evaluate possibilities of success, judge players based on their past performances and view everyone as our enemy. The game becomes a competition. The game becomes a war. Life or death is at stake; the life or death of our ego.

Allow me to give you an example. Let’s say that you are asked to walk 50 meters on the sidewalk in front of your house. The only rule is that you cannot, under any circumstances, step onto the street or onto the grass. You must stay on the sidewalk at all times. Would you be able to do it? Of course! You walk on that sidewalk everyday! You could even run or ride a bicycle on it and be able to accomplish the task.

Now, imagine that this sidewalk is 300 meters above sea level, it has no railings and it connects two mountains. Would you be able to do this without stepping over its edge? The answer is that of course you would. The difference is that you don’t take the first game seriously so you are fully aware of all of your skills and abilities and are capable of using them easily to accomplish the task. In the second scenario, you decide that it is no longer a game and that you must take it seriously. The moment you decide it is work, you loose your connection to the right side of your brain where your creativity, intuition and rhythm can be found. As a result, you only work with your left brain where you have logic, deduction, analysis and judgment. You will still be able to accomplish the task if you choose to because you have the skills to do it. The question is, will you remember that the skills are inherent in you and all you have to do is perform them without over-analyzing. In other words, will you have faith in yourself?

When we predominantly work with only one side of our brain, we paralyze ourselves. It is just as if you were to tell a bird to fly with only one wing. It is the same for all of us. When we stop taking things seriously, we allow communication to flow freely between both sides of our brain. The result is the ability to fly.

The next time you are at a job interview, or sitting in your dentist’s reception area, do an experiment and pretend that you are just playing a game. Right before you enter into a situation that you are dreading, remember the feeling of laughing so hard at something that tears stream out of your eyes and your stomach cramps up, yet regardless, you continue laughing because of the pure joy of the experience. See the pure joy and light-heartedness in every situation and you will always be a winner.

I’m going to take my own advice. Next week I have a driving test. I’ve been driving for over 10 years but for some reason, instead of seeing this test as a technicality (as a GAME), I’ve been trying hard to freak myself out about it – even though inside I feel assured and at peace that everything will be fine. So, instead, I’m going to try this experiment and see how changing my perception will effect the experience…

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