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"Playing at Working"

By Mary A. Brandon

“Work and Play”- “a “being” in motion, or doing, for a purpose, either their own or someone else’s.”

Sometimes people think that work has to be miserable, that it is somehow forced upon them as a burden. Sometimes people think that work is a necessary evil. Sometimes work is just a means to an end. What exactly does it mean?

Work (w^rk) n.

1. Effort directed toward the production or accomplishment of something; toil; labor. 2. Employment. 3. A trade, craft, business or profession. 4. A duty or task. 5.Something that has been produced as a result of effort…………………………. 12. Phy. The transfer of energy to a body by the application of force. –V. 1. To labor or toil. 2. To be employed, have a job. 3. To function or operate. 4. To prove successful. 5. To have an influence, result, or effect, as on a person. 6. To change into a specified state, esp. gradually or by repeated movement. 7. To force a passage or way. 9. To be processed. 10. To ferment. 11. To undergo small motions that result in friction and wear. 12. To cause or effect; bring about. 13. To handle or use. 14. To form or shape; mold. 15. To solve (an arithmetic problem). 16. To make productive; cultivate. 17. To provoke. 19. To influence or persuade.

Generally the more definitions we have for something, the harder it is to define and the greater the feelings and assumptions are that we have attached to it. What does work mean to you?

We believe that if individuals are clear about the purpose of their work, they will be able to be in charge of their decisions and not be at the fate of change or someone (something) else’s purpose. In other words, we all can be responsible (able to respond) for our work choices, decisions and the way we view outcomes. We can possess a sense of direction instead of falling victim to circumstances. We can find meaning in what we do.

We know that responsibility also is a word full of feelings. Responsibility for us is “you as the controlling agent of yourself,” not a system or an “other”, but you. Something else may be the precipitator of a motion but you are what produces the particular effect. Effect does not have to be reaction, it can be choice in making a decision of how to respond. Your choices in how to respond can be of great variety, creative and playful. You are in control of most of your actions. The ones you are not in control of are generally physiological responses that allow physical survival. The problem is many times our brain gets the stimuli that something we feel strongly about has to do with physical survival. The way we view things absolutely impacts how we can and will respond. So what if you began to see work as “play?”

Play (pla) v.

1. To occupy oneself in amusement, sport, etc. 2. To take part in (a game or sport). 3.To act or perform in jest. 4. To toy; trifle. 5.To act in a specified way: play fair. 6. To act or perform (a role). 7. To perform (on a musical instrument). 8. To be performed. 9. To move lightly or irregularly: The breeze played on the water. 10. To pretend to be. 11. To compete against in a game. 12a. To occupy (a position) in a game b. To employ in a game or position. c. To use (a card, piece, etc.) in a game. 13. To manipulate: He played two opponents against each other. 14. To bet or wager. 15. To cause to emit sounds.
--n. 1a. A literary work written for the stage. b. The performance of such a work. 2. Activity engaged in for enjoyment or recreation. 3. Fun: It was done in play. 4. The act of manner of playing a game or sport. 5. A method of dealing with people generally: fair play. 6. A move in a game 7. Sports. Legitimate use: The ball was in play. 8. Action or use: the play of the imagination. 9. Free movement, as of mechanical parts.

The word “work” and the word “play” are nouns and verbs. They both relate to doing and being. Let us try this definition of work on, “A being (content and perfect in its natural state, ready) in motion, doing (in action, accomplishing something, propelled), for a purpose, either their own (this is the proactive approach giving meaning and the one we highlight in our book along with preparation and self responsibility) or someone else’s (hierarchal, dictator type model not as democratic as the one we support).” It is our way of looking at it or our perspective and attitude toward the personal meanings of our past experiences that really make the difference, doesn’t it? It is our readying our predisposition or viewpoint that colors what follows.

It does not take a lot of angst to find the right work situation, just the willingness and commitment to find it. Look first for the meaning in what you are doing now. Ask yourself why you are doing that and why you are doing it in the particular way that you are. Find what is right with what you are doing now, what are you playing at and what part of that play is work. What parts are done for your deliberate purposes and what are really for someone else’s?

With a lot of focus and a bit of help you can find the right position, tasks, colleagues, workplace and mission. Gain curiosity about what you do and you will always learn a little more about what satisfies who you are. After all, why work when you could be playing instead?

Reference: The American Heritage Dictionary, Dell Publishing Co., Inc., New York, N.Y.

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