Time Spent with Horses is Time Well-Spent
By Jack Canfield
Editor’s Note: Horse people sometimes joke about why we do this horse thing. After all, horses are expensive, a lot of work, a physical risk, and they tie us down. But horses are a passion, and horse lovers know time spent with our equines fulfills us and makes us better human beings. Horses bring play into our lives in many forms — a trail ride through a wooded path, a challenging competition, or finally achieving that flying change. Even cleaning the barn gives us time to think deeply and relax while we get a good workout.
Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, writes here about adult play. It’s a good reminder of why we do horses, especially as we head into the dark winter months, when horse time is often cut short. We can (and should) continue to play with our horses in winter too. Even a few minutes a day makes a big difference. It’s good for our beloved horses, and it’s essential for us.
Kids aren’t the only ones who need to play. Adults need regular playtime, too.
Earlier this year, my wife and I spent a month living in a beachfront house in Maui, Hawaii. We’d done the same thing last year and went back this year because it was such an amazingly fun and bonding experience for us. Every morning, I got up early and did my regular meditation and yoga or qigong routine. Then I ate breakfast and spent two hours writing.
After that, the rest of the day was devoted to playtime. My wife and I went swimming, snorkeling, sailing, and hiking. We relaxed on the beach and enjoyed some incredible meals at some great restaurants. And we spent our evenings reading, socializing with friends, playing Scrabble, listening to music, and watching our favorite TV shows.
And you know what? I accomplished more during the two hours I spent writing every morning than I sometimes achieve back home in the course of an eight-hour day! Not only that – I had more energy, I felt more alive, my creativity was through the roof, my wife and I fell more deeply in love than ever, and I felt more relaxed than I had been in months.
That is the power of play.
Why Is Adult Playtime Important?
Scientific research shows that engaging in a recreational activity purely for the pleasure of it – whether it’s making art, playing games or sports, doing yoga or going for a walk in the woods – is essential for our mental and physical health and wellbeing. Playtime has been proven to reduce stress, spark creativity, improve relationships, and boost a person’s energy and productivity. It gives people an opportunity to connect and develop important social skills. And it fosters innovation and “out of the box” thinking.
This is just as true of adults as it is of children. In fact, corporate research shows that companies that encourage play find their employees produce better work and come up with more creative solutions to problems.
The Power of Play at Work
Way back in the early days of Google’s existence, they insisted on creating an atmosphere that encouraged creativity and play. They added ping pong tables, workout gyms, and other opportunities for mental and physical play to their workspaces. It had a major positive impact on their employees’ productivity and performance.
Adult Playtime Ideas
At the Canfield Training Group, we have a quarterly play day with group competitions like scavenger hunts, Outward Bound-type group challenges, competing to see which teams get out of an escape room the fastest (if you haven’t done that yet, make sure to get a group together and do that). We’ve had bowling competitions, even a group painting class while drinking wine, as well as playing some of the more popular board games. We’ve also taken Italian cooking classes and gone on sunset cruises together.
So today I’d like you to consider what kind of play you most enjoy – and what steps you’re willing to take to incorporate more of it into your life. Do you enjoy playing sports? Playing chess? Decorating cakes? Knitting? Working on old cars? Dancing? Writing poetry? Gardening? Dancing?
What activities bring you joy and engage you so fully that when you’re doing them, you completely lose track of time? These are the activities I encourage you to do more of in your life. Because the benefits will be incalculable. Not only will you experience more joy and fun in your life – your work and your relationships will benefit hugely as well. A big key here is to schedule playtime.
Put it on your calendar and then do it – either alone or with other people. One way to make sure you do it is to invite other people to play with you at that time. Then you are committed.
About Jack Canfield
From his earliest days teaching inner-city high school students how to discover their potential and succeed no matter their circumstances — to becoming a world-renowned transformational speaker and trainer who has conducted more than 2,500 workshops and events all over the world — Jack Canfield has devoted his life and career to helping others achieve their personal definition of success. Canfield is the founder of the billion-dollar Chicken Soup for the Soul™ publishing empire and is a multiple New York Times bestselling author. www.jackcanfield.com