Is life about just devoting yourself to some higher cause? Some people say yes. What’s the point of just consuming, reproducing, and dying? This is the purpose camp.
Others argue that life is just about having a good time. What’s the point of existing if you don’t get to enjoy existence? This is the play camp.
Some people say you should try to get a little of both by splitting your time (i.e. what you do during the week vs. the weekends). This is most people.
All of these views have their points – but they’re incomplete. I say you can have both purpose and play, without splitting the difference.
There are tremendous opportunities for the integration of play into work (and vice versa), from actual activities to mindset.*
You can see the world while traveling for your next speech. You can be the office DJ that inspires your team to new heights. You can use your fiction series to educate and empower people. I find niches for my hobbies in purposeful activities all the time, from using my acting skills to deliver better work presentations to using my photography to document family moments. The fun philosophical musings alongside my coworkers and the sparring playlist at jiu jitsu count as well.
As Mary Poppins says:
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”
This truth goes both ways. Everything you wish you could play at forever can be used to a purpose, and every purposeful action can be done playfully.
*This idea owes much to the ideas of “work-life integration.”