I don’t enjoy not doing anything. If I am not doing something I feel is productive, I get very anxious and begin to criticize myself for not knowing what to do. It’s as if I have to be accomplishing something all the time or I’m not happy.

Of course, everyone has their own definition of what being productive is. What might be play to one person is a source of work for someone else. For instance, I can play Words with Friends on my phone and convince myself I am sharpening my mind as I do so. I can turn a bicycle ride around the neighborhood into a time trial competition against myself. And I can transform a blog I began writing for my own enjoyment into a personal crusade against depression.

The only problem with this mentality of assigning meaning and purpose to everything is that the concept of play is lost. No activity is performed simply for the sake of enjoying it; there has to be some higher goal attached to it. If no such goal can be found, the activity is regarded as useless or a waste of time. This kind of thinking doesn’t leave a lot of room for recreation. Even worse, it doesn’t allow for rest either.

I mentioned in an earlier post how two Saturdays ago I did nothing but sit on my couch all day. I did watch a movie and play a video game, but not even I could classify these as productive activities. I was a bum that day … and I loved it. It was as if my brain finally had a chance to slow down and relax. My emotions were more under control by the end of the day. On a day when all my natural instincts were telling me to fight for me life, all I really needed to do was be still.

Since that day, I’ve been trying to do a better job of doing nothing. If my 3-year-old wants a piggyback ride, I don’t contemplate what life lesson could be taught through giving her one; I just put her on my back. I watched American Ninja Warrior with my two oldest sons this week, not once considering what they might be learning from it. I take my time at the dinner table now. When I play my bass guitar, I’m not trying to write a hit song; I just like the way it sounds. And I’ve written this week mainly because I just like to write, not because I feel like I have to.

So enough with all this working.

Let’s play.

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