Why You Need More Play in Your Life
As men, we get lost in our work and our pursuit to become better than we were yesterday, and we should get consumed by this stuff.
We’re on a quest to create something more than what we had when we were kids. We want to give our kids more, as well. We want to leave a legacy.
We can’t, however, forget how to live.
I wish to se our people hard, vigorous, strong, able to hold their own in whatever test may arise. I wish to see them able to work and able to play hard. I believe in play, and I like to see people play hard while they play, and when they work I do not want to see them play at all. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Schedule Time for Fun
Over the past few weeks I’ve had exactly zero days off from work. Every week I say this is the week I’m going to hit the mountains, but the mountains keep getting pushed back.
Every week I say I’m going shooting this week, but when the last few days of the week come I find some reason to do just a little more work.
Now, I’m burnt out.
Let’s assume you’re responsible and self-reliant. Let’s assume that you work hard and take your career seriously, and you’re not a kid who bucks his responsibilities to go drink with pals.
I think that’s a fair assumption based on you being here, reading this article.
The thing that’s likely missing from your life isn’t more hours to work, but play.
Playing is living. Playing is hiking and hunting and shooting and yes, drinking with the fellas. As we dive into our jobs and recite our goals and study, play gets pushed and pushed until we’re in such a deep routine of work that the fun, the reason for the work, is lost.
I started this business because I thought it was necessary, for one. I’d suffered from less than optimal testosterone levels and I wanted to give other guys the solution that helped me create optimal testosterone levels.
I’ve been dirt broke, so I wanted to help guys create the habits that got me out of being broke and out of shape.
I also wanted the freedom that this line of work, a business that can be run from anywhere, could possibly give me.
It has, in the past, given me just that. While the hours are a lot longer than any other 9-5 I worked, I did my work from Italy and South America and South Africa.
What’s interesting about each of those trips is that business saw a big bump when I was out playing, exploring, and having fun. The work got done, but the lifestyle fuelled more creativity and more happiness that lead to more accomplishment which, in turn, created more happiness.
Play is a necessary aspect of our lives, and it’s one we forget about and push back as something that boys do.
I push back at it.
If I’m out in the woods or on the range I can feel guilty about not being in the office. It’s stupid because play is as necessary as work for accomplishment.
So how should men best play?
We’re not heading out into the park and playing tag – although that would be a ripping good time. The best play, I’ve found, is when the mind is engaged and learning. When we’re learning and extremely focused, there is nothing but the moment in time that we’re currently in.
This is ‘the zone’ that elite athletes talk about. It’s a state that we can have when we work. Some call it flow. It’s a wonderful state, and when you combine learning with laughing, you experience living.
7 Ways Men Should Play
1. Pick up a weapon.
I have Godson. He’s a great kid, a young fella who likes things that boys like, namely guns. I’ve bought him two toy guns (that his mom’s not too happy about). Guns are fun.
When you’re older you can get real ones and they’re even more fun.
I didn’t grow up around guns, so buying my first couple of shotguns and my rifle and learning how to use them to shoot clays, birds, and other animals, has been a hell of a lot of fun.
As often as we can (not often enough), me and a couple pals head to the shotgun club 45 minutes out of town. We shoot. We laugh. We compete. When the round is done we find a dirt road, pop a couple beers, and shoot the shit.
I’ve also picked up archery.
Adding the competition component is great. It forces you to focus, to be in the moment, if you listen to your pals or think about the next shot or the score, the moment is lost and you’re far likely to miss.
When you add hunting to the equation the experience is even more fun and you get the reward of bringing a meal home to your family.
2. Play a sport.
Sports are great to play, but most men merely observe them.
Playing sports hones your athletic ability, it keeps you nimble, powerful, and dangerous. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun to grab a ball and get a game going.
It brings us back to our youth. It’s also hard to think about other things besides the game when you’re in the middle of it.
The more we can be in the moment in life, the better.
Running is something I did a lot of when I was boxing, but almost completely turned my back on up until a few years ago.
Running sucks, but it’s also beautiful. When you’re in nature, exploring, pushing yourself not to quit, always trying to make it to the next turn and then the next one after that, life is good. As humans, we’re also designed to run. (Read This: How Running Can Make You A Better Man)
Thousands of years ago that was our best mode of transportation while on the hunt for food to help out tribe survive for another day.
Running is primal. I’m convinced that we need to do it. It isn’t necessarily ‘play’, but the endorphins that are released during a good run has a similar effect.
Nature is where we find clarity. It’s where we come to realize just how small and insignificant our perceived problems are.
Hiking is also process-driven. The more process-driven activities we do, the better.
On a tough hike you’re constantly focused on making the correct step, and the more difficult the hike, the more you’re simply trying to make it another 10 feet without quitting and looking like a pussy in front of your pals, your lady, or your dog.
Nature is where we’re bred to live, to be, to explore. If you’re a hiker, or if you’ve been on a hike, you’ll know that this is where true beauty exists.
Hunting is hiking on steroids. When you hike you’re typically on trails and routes laid out for humans by humans. When you’re hunting you’re in the bush, and if you’re using trails they’re usually laid out by animals, for animals.
It’s also primal.
Humans are predators. The food we hunt is also far healthier than the food we’ll find in a grocery store.
Hunting is a spiritual experience, too. To be out in nature doing what men have done for thousands of years gives you a connection to who you are and what you’re here to do that cannot be found in a city.
Killing an animal isn’t a fun thing. While the culmination of a hunt can result in high fives and smiles, when you walk up to the animal you’re not laughing at it, but appreciating it, thanking it for the sacrifice.
I’m new to hunting. I’ve done it for just over a year now. To be good at it you need to be in the moment, you need to be in shape, and comfortable being uncomfortable. (Read This: 9 Things Every Man Must Do Before He Dies)
To give a few weeks or the year to hunting is a wonderful way to spend time away from the rat race that consumes our lives.
Fighting is something I know a bit more about. Again, it’s primal. Men have been doing it forever. To get good at fighting takes a ton of practice. It also changes how you look at fighting.
Before I started boxing, fighting was an emotional response. I’d get pissed off and I’d fight.
When I was actually fighting in the ring, it changed my view of combat. It isn’t emotional. You’re no longer running at someone in anger, but responding in a reasonable fashion and simply trying to win.
Every guy should learn how to fight. If you’ve never learned, start. It’s weird to not know how to punch. Join a gym. It’s a great time. Sparring is awesome, it’s a challenge, and as you improve you’ll just love the sport more and more.
Fishing is something I’ve never gotten into, but will this summer. It’s a process-driven, patience-required activity.
While you’re focused on getting the fish, you’re also appreciating where you are and what you have and what you’ve been blessed with.
We need to practice slowing down. One of the offshoots of a society where we’re constantly trying to acquire more is that our pace is far too fast for us to enjoy where we are. Fishing is a great way to practice slowing down, especially something like fly fishing.
SLOW DOWN. PLAY MORE.
Here’s a challenge for you:
Try moving slower.
Actually move slower today. Don’t rush at all. When you drive, drive slow. When you walk, walk slow. When you work, work slow.
You’ll find that the quality of your work improves, you even get more done in less time and you’ll have so much less stress it’s incredible.
And, of course, play as well.
Schedule some time this week to play. Use one of the suggested methods or do your own thing.
If I’ve missed anything, let me know in the comments section.
While work is a huge part of who we are and our legacy, play improves the quality of our work and our experience here on this planet. Do BOTH!
WHAT OTHER FORMS OF PLAY WOULD YOU ADD?
About The Author
Chad Howse: Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.