The power of play

How play is a powerful antidote to mental clutter

Words by Jayashree Chenglath

It was one of those mornings. I woke up to the carbon monoxide detector noisily requesting I change out it’s battery. Just as that was fixed, it hit me that I had forgotten to pay my now overdue water bill. Yikes! I still had to make breakfast and get a bunch of other chores done today, all this outside of my normal, busy work day. Next thing I knew, my mind was spinning ... the feeling of being overwhelmed, unorganized and exhausted, before the day had even really begun. Then I did something unusual—I noticed my unfinished jigsaw puzzle on the dining table. I sauntered over and just plugged into it for about fifteen minutes. By the end, I noticed my mind was calmer, with less “clutter” and “white noise.” My day, or at least the perception of my day, had gotten rebooted. What just happened?

Play. It comes to us naturally as children, and to animals as well, but we predominantly lose it as adults. Life and life events happen ... relationships, marriage, a new job, parenting, the list goes on. And along with that that comes stress, anxiety, responsibilities, and we quickly start hurtling towards a life of chronic stress and mental clutter. We just take life too seriously—we forget about fun!

So what is play? Is it just a game of tennis or pickleball?

I like to think it is so much more. 

Can tackling a work project or writing an essay be play?

Can doing household chores like cleaning, laundry or cooking a meal be play?

Yes and yes. If we are able to be completely engaged with the activity and it brings us contentment, then it is play. 

With more play, we build a state of mind where we are more engaged, feel joy, and energize ourselves to live life. Just like how we go to the gym to strengthen our body muscles, the more we bring daily mundane activities to life, the more we strengthen our “playfulness muscles.” 

Play has become a habit for me and with that, life just gets lighter. 

This is the Power of Play. And I truly believe that it is the most powerful antidote to mental clutter.

So start small, celebrate the wins, learn from failures … and most importantly, have fun along the way!

Jayashree Chenglath

Jayashree Chenglath believes that play is the antidote to mental clutter. She is a minimalist, a big fan of heartfelt positivity, and the founder of Simplify Being, where she helps her clients simplify every aspect of life so that there is more being and less absent-minded doing.

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