Have You Played Today?

Runner's rage
This is how I ran the San Diego Marathon. The entire time.

Recently at my Entrepreneur’s Organization forum meeting, my forum completed an exercise called “What are your values?”.

  • Everyone shares in creating a master list of possible values.
  • Individuals select their top 10 values that are most important to them.
  • Individuals then remove the 3 least important, leaving them with 7.
  • Individuals then remove the 3 least important, leaving them with 4.
  • Individuals then remove the 2 least important, leaving them with only 2.

We then went around and discussed if these two remaining values, which we declared were our individual most important values, were reflected in each of our lives. Do we make time for them on our calendar? Do we fund them with our money? Would others agree that we uphold and represent these values daily?

My Two Most Important Values

My two most important values, in order of importance: #2. Curiosity; #1 Joyfulness.

Curiosity, to me, is the value of being interested enough in the world around you as to explore, learn, and investigate it.. It is the never-ending questioning of ideas, and open-mindedness to accept that your prior conclusion was incorrect. It is how I try to go out and engage the world everyday.

Joyfulness, to me, is the value of finding the humor, levity, and happiness in all aspects of life. It is the acceptance of, and comfort in, the knowledge that we are so very insignificant; that nothing is to be taken too seriously, not even death (or taxes). It is how I choose to perceive the world and all the things it thrusts upon me.

Today, I realized that these two things that are the core tenets of the concept of play.

In psychology and ethology, play is a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment. Play is most commonly associated with children and their juvenile-level activities, but play can also be a useful adult activity, and occurs among other higher-functioning animals as well.

The concept of play is easy to understand for children; it is even expected. But the only type of play adults seem to be allowed is the perverse type (not that that isn’t enjoyable!). What about humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and make-believe fantasy?

Research is that animals on the lower strata of their hierarchy of needs — that is stressed and starving animals — generally do not play.

Which brings us to the photo that started this post. Recently I completed my first marathon — the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon. Even though it was probably one of the most uncomfortable, tiring experiences of my life, I always tried to introduce play into it. Even during my many hours and miles training, I kept my mind focused on finding puns and jokes in the conversations around me. And for the race, to the suggestion of my wife, I was able to uphold my values of Curiosity and Joyfulness in full power as TuTu Much — the sidekick to the Purple Phantom (n.b., my superhero also shares the #2 value of Curiosity).

Have you played today?

Play Inspiration

A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.

Stuart Brown’s research shows play is not just joyful and energizing — it’s deeply involved with human development and intelligence. Through the National Institute for Play, he’s working to better understand its significance


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