Having Fun at Work, Life, and Everything In-Between
It turns out that all work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but it might also make him an unhappy and unhealthy person, as well. According to developmental psychologists, early humans used fun and leisure for more than just a good time. It was also a way to establish relationships and develop collaborations that may have helped them band together as a cooperative group, a characteristic of early hunter-gatherers that gave them a survival advantage.
Taken in the context of the modern world, it has been theorized that the rise in importance of winning over simply playing and having fun may in fact discourage cooperative behavior and encourage selfishness and greed.
This is especially true when it comes to the unstructured fun and play of children, which is believed to nurture early feelings of compassion, empathy, and connectedness. Psychologists are quick to point out, however, that this does not include watching TV, playing video games, or competitive sports, especially when parents are present to push the competitive atmosphere to a higher level.
Left alone to their own devices, children will establish relationships and work together to achieve common goals (i.e., having fun), a basic quality of human interaction. In kids, it harks back to a simpler time when unstructured play was a hallmark of children’s lives after school or during vacations and weekends. Cooperation was necessary in order to satisfy the needs of the individual as well as the group in order to prolong play as long as possible and keep them coming back for more.
In adults, the interactions that can stem from fun and leisure can result in a better personal as well as professional relationships, encouraging such things as loyalty, cooperation, and friendship.
And as scientists are beginning to learn, friends may be a potential key to good health, even more so than family. In fact, studies are beginning to reveal that having strong social ties may help not only our minds and our bodies stay healthy, but may even help us live longer, as well.
Why this is the case is anybody’s guess, but it goes without saying that having friends to share in our moments of glory and turn to in our times of need can have a profound impact on our peace of mind, and by extension, our personal and professional lives. Friends can also encourage us to do more and to try harder.
While it goes without saying that it can complicate matters when you either do business with friends or are too close to the people you work with (after all, there is something to be said about separating work from pleasure), there are certain undeniable benefits to liking the people you work with.
Having a pleasant work environment and good relationships with the people that surround you make loyalty, cooperation, and trust more of a possibility, which can result in greater efficiency. Besides, taking a Machiavellian approach to your job and undercutting and competing with your co-workers will maybe further your career, but might not make work, and for that matter, your life, so enjoyable, and could lead to unpleasant circumstances on the job (just look at what happened to Enron). It might also make your colleagues less enthusiastic about working with you or helping you.
So the next time you feel the urge to compete and win, just try to keep things in perspective and remember to also have some fun. Don’t always place so much emphasis on winning or getting ahead at the expense of the people around you. Sure, a little competition can be good for you, but when it consumes you, then your life becomes about a fleeting moment of victory rather than everything in between. And when you really get down to it, life is really about the journey.
It’s like what your parents told you when you were growing up: just have fun, winning isn’t everything, even if they were threatening your soccer coach with physical violence because they didn’t let you play enough.
It was only because they love you.