“If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right.” – Bob Basso
We all need to keep our inner child alive and thriving through the habit of play.
In fact, it should be a way of life in which we incorporate play in all we do. Here are some ways you can make play a part of the natural way you flow:
- Always have something to look forward to. You should always have new adventures and experiences planned for a future date that gives you that feeling you had as a kid anticipating Christmas. Once you have fulfilled your latest fun project or adventure plan the next one so that you always have something new and exciting to look forward to. Often times the anticipation leading up to a new adventure is just as exciting as the adventure itself.
- Always remain curious. Explore, ask questions, and seek answers. This is what children do all the time. They stay curious and are natural explorers. Learning and discovering something new for the first time is one of the best forms of play and children are masters at it. But somehow along the way we lose our natural curiosity and stop exploring. But I say in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet, “Live the questions now.”
- Keep it moving. Run. Skip. Jump. Dance. Leap. Hop. Climb. These are all forms of movement play and things we can do on a daily basis as a way to not only play but also to stay in shape. Again kids do these things naturally but why shouldn’t we as adults continue to move our bodies in playful ways and dance to the rhythm of life whenever we feel the urge to skip, hop and do somersaults. Think you’ll look silly breaking out in a spontaneous skip? Who cares, I’d rather look silly and be happy than look normal and be miserable. But if it makes you feel better, reserve your outbreaks of dance for the privacy of your home. Either way, get movin’. You may even want to add the theme song from Madagascar, I Like to Move It, Move It to your move it playlist. And if you need a bit of inspiration check out one of my favorite scenes from Happy Feet and get your boogie on.
- Flip the script on life’s tragedies and misfortunes. We can approach all the areas of our lives in a playful spirit if we just allow ourselves to lighten up and stop taking everything in life so seriously. You can even find joy in death by turning the passing of a loved one into a celebration of their life instead of a mourning of their death. Easier said than done for most but it makes my point that anything in life can be turned into an opportunity for play, celebration, and joy. It’s just a matter of changing your perspective and seeing that sadness, misery, and boredom are choices. You can always choose to see things in a different light. You can always choose to play with life’s mishaps and shitty situations. I mean life is often one big tragic comedy after all. So why not join in the act of making fun of life’s tragedies and challenges instead of letting them bring you down and stewing in your misery. I’m not saying make fun of others peoples misfortunes but I’m sure your own life can provide you with plenty of comic relief. This is the part where you “laugh to keep from crying.”
- Break the rules. It’s boring following the rules, doing what everyone else is doing, so why not live on your terms and do things your way which often means breaking the rules a bit. Society likes things done a certain way, in a certain order, and with a dose of conservatism for good measure. F*** that! Life is so much more interesting when you stir the pot, ruffle some feathers, do the opposite of what is expected, challenge the status quo, color outside the lines, march to the beat of your own drum and of course dance to your own rhythm. So in the spirit of NOT playing by the rules I say give life’s rules a big fat middle finger and then dance on its head.
- Never grow up. We’ll talk more about this one in a future post but the bottom-line is that if you want play to be a part of your daily life you have to remember what is was like to be a kid and keep that aspect of who you are alive and at the center of all you do. There is no need to be a stoic, ultra serious adult just because that’s what you think the situation calls for. You can still be a fun-loving, playful handler of important and serious matters. Adults are always saying things like “grow up” and “act your age” to silly acting, immature young adults who haven’t gotten the “you’re an adult now so act like it” memo. But if this means you have to stop playing and having fun I say never grow up! Play is a necessity to your happiness and well-being so frolic, be silly, and dance on tabletops if it means keeping your inner child happy and filled with joy. Watch the movie Big starring Tom Hanks for a bit of inspiration. And watch this very funny commercial. It really brings home this idea of tapping into our youthfulness.
I can’t stress enough the importance of play in your everyday life. When you play you demonstrate the purest expression of who you are and you shine so much brighter when you let your playful spirit lead the way.
How can you make play a way of life? Please share your own suggestions for incorporating more play into our lives.