Purposeless Play

Growing up, our lives revolved around playing.

Whether it was riding bikes, building forts, playing sports or something entirely made up. We immersed ourselves in play that served no purpose.

I recently listened to a podcast about how play is such an indispensable component of being human.

When children play it builds their mental capacity and character for a number of different things, that last a lifetime; creativity, empathy, compassion, trust, irony, problem solving.

Losing sight of the child within us.

A question I have been asking myself the past year is at what point in our lives do we completely lose sight of the child within us?

It’s almost as if once we hit the teenage years, each year thereafter, we push the child within us further and further down.

Why as a society do we allow this to happen?

The dogma of society that we find ourselves in makes us feel guilty, as adults, to engage in purposeless play. To lose all sense of time and allow spontaneity take over is something that kids do, not adults.

We feel as though we don’t have time to play; there are errands to run, mouths to feed, houses to clean, jobs to do, bills to pay. Our daily lives are consumed of, in the grand scheme of things, meaningless tasks.

The journey I have committed to this past year has opened my eyes to the pull society has on us.

The tug that’s felt places great emphasis on adhering to the system, to work hard, and then harder. When this is accomplished you will become successful and happy as long as you follow the path that has been laid out by society.

Working hard is part of any path, that I agree with, but working hard on a path laid out by someone other than you is the dogma.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Steve Jobs

This journey has shifted the lens in which I view my life. The realization that time is the most precious commodity and the daily life tasks I so addictively had to finish are not the things that add value to my life, or bring my joy.

It’s made me reflect on how I spend my time, the people I surround myself with, the commitments I say yes to.

Slow down to embrace the in-between moments.

Slowing life down is one of the most grateful realizations, and determinations, I have had. I now see the present moment with clarity, for what it is. It brings out a sort of contentment within me. Something I had always told myself I never wanted to feel, because contentment meant satisfied; a destination.

When I am purely focused on the moment, I look at my son and see his glowing face when playing. I notice the gravitational pull from the core of who he is to the things he decides to do.

When you immerse yourself in purposeless play you let nature take over. You throw up your arms and let go to the spontaneity of that moment, without feeling guilty.

This is the part that typically keeps me from play.

The feeling that I should be doing something else, something that will get me further ahead in the system society wants us to travel.

Be mindful of your playtime. Ensure that it exists.

This has become a daily check-in for me. It’s something I am mindful of always.

When I have an opportunity to play, especially with my son, I give myself permission and surrender to it. Whether it’s riding bikes, playing super heroes, having a water balloon fight or if it’s reading a book, shooting hoops.

Whatever it is that opens the front door to letting the child within you run out joyously ready to play, do it. Tweet this

Think about the things that made you joyful as a child, think about the things that make you feel good now. Incorporate those into your day or weeks. Give yourself the freedom to engage with purposeless and timeless play.

Be spontaneous. Let the child in you out. Let’s be mindful of this together. Let’s play.

Photo Credit: thelotuscarroll

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About Eric Ungs

Eric Ungs writes about a journey of intentional self growth, nudging you to let go; to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life ebook.


  1. longandluxe


    Your site – the words, the heart and the design – blows me away. I can’t believe how much I relate to your manifesto. My favorite line is “We are the work.” Right on. I believe writing is what I’m called to do, that’s the only way I know to help the world, it’s my work. I thank you for stoking the fire of what I believe in, by revealing what YOU believe in. One word at a time!

    Thank you so much for the chance to get to visit here and sign up to keep in touch. I wish you the absolute best of everything and a peaceful, soulful journey.

    Blessings to you!


    1. Thank you so much for stopping by here Allison! I appreciate it immensely… and for the kind words. Let’s most definitely keep in touch. 🙂

      1. longandluxe

        I’m no fool – I follow people who make us all better! 🙂
        If you want to, I’d be really honored if you follow me, too. I mean, only if my site is something that’s your jam. If not that’s cool, too, no worries. My readers are the most important thing to me, they are my teachers, and well, I’d be really stoked to have you on my team.
        Peace, always and always.

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