As I embrace the encore of my life, I’ve decided to consciously choose how I want this next chapter to evolve. This choice has taken me on a journey to examine my past, take a look at my present life, and to actively choose how I want my future to unfold.
I began this process by openly exploring and blogging about the concepts I believed would help me re-shape my life, and to live in full expression of my passion and purpose. Truth is, I’ve spent most of my life trying to be a version of the “good girl” that I thought would be acceptable to others. What I hadn’t realized was my made up version of a “good girl” was bored and boring, and was definitely not having much fun!
I started remembering my days as a Head Start teacher where we were taught that play is essential to the healthy growth and development of children. It was fascinating to watch my students learn and grow through the sometimes subtle interactions that took place during play. The authentic nature of a child at play is amazing! I often simply watched them playing – sometimes pushing and shoving – coming together again, to restart the process all over through negotiating, sharing, helping, and actually teaching each other.
The Aha moment arose! Playing and having fun was the next concept I needed to explore.
I now understand that I had unconsciously allowed my life to become so serious, and I was so disconnected from the concept of fun, that I couldn't remember how playing and having fun genuinely felt.
What is Play?
Play is a state of being…it's process…not a thing. It is an opportunity for us to engage in purposeless, fun, and pleasurable activities for enjoyment and recreation. The focus is on the experience, and not necessarily on achieving a set goal. Developing a playful nature is helpful in all areas of our life.
Playing as an adult is a time to loosen the grip of work and structured commitments, and to be social in an unstructured, creative way. When we make a conscious effort to include having fun and playing in our lives the quality of our relationships with ourselves and others improve, as we let go, trust the process, and become open to fully embracing the experience.
Reasons adults avoid playing …
- Worried about what others will think/say: Truth is, we don’t know what other folks are thinking.
- Think you need money: It’s true; some of the best things in life are free.
- Believe you don’t have time: Set an intention to play; fun is found in the little moments.
- Think you need a plan – Be in the moment; allow fun to flow naturally.
- Believe everything has to be perfect: Give yourself a break. Become free to have fun despite imperfections.
- Bored/Not interested: Be willing to take a risk and try something new. Keep in mind, boredom and not being interested may be a symptom of depression; if needed, seek support from life coach and/or therapist.
Benefits of Play for adults…
- Brings joy to our life! It relieves stress, and has been shown to release endorphins, and improve brain functionality.
- Helps us stay young and feeling energetic. Playing can boost our energy and advance our resistance to disease.
- Stimulates the mind and boost creativity. We learn new tasks easier when they're fun and we're in a relaxed and playful mood.
- Awakens our imagination, helping us to adapt and problem solve more efficiently.
- Improves relationships and our connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can encourage empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others.
- Am I allowing fear to limit my ability to “play” full out?
- Am I concerned how I will look to others if I appear to “play too much”?
- Am I afraid of rejection and/or embarrassment when attempting to be playful – (like me falling off a sliding board…it was one of the best laughs I had in a long time:-))
- Am I afraid of being labeled as childish or immature?
Nurture your playful side. Schedule play time- turn off your phone, TV, computer, and other devices. Give yourself permission to do whatever you want for the time you’ve allotted. Be spontaneous, set aside your inhibitions and try something fun, something you haven’t done since you were a child.
Set the Goal of Playing More.
Start by setting a goal and committing to being more playful and having fun. We often think goal setting is only for serious things like losing weight, starting a new business, making more money, etc. However, setting an intention to have more fun is just as important to our overall well-being as our so-called adult sounding goals. Think about it; the experience of losing weight, having your own business, and having more money will feel a whole lot better when you're actually enjoying yourself!
Decide what fun means for you.
- Make a list of what you enjoyed doing as a kid.
- Highlight the things you would still like to do.
- Create a fun list of new ideas/highlight what sounds most interesting.
Create an adult “Toy Box”.
Include playful activities and ideas. Your Toy Box should include whatever makes you happy and brings you joy! When you need a break or just want to be silly – pull out your Toy Box and have some fun!
Look for ways to have fun at work.
Be open to appropriate ways to have fun at work. Having fun at work may have a positive impact on your entire work environment.
Have play dates with your significant other, befriend a fun person, and spend time with child/children.
Share your playful nature! Schedule dates with your friends and loved ones to play and have fun!
As I end this post with a smile; I am absolutely awed by the feeling of joy, which has grown, as I wrote this post! It goes to show how embracing a playful state of mind affects our soul.
I’m shifting the way I think about play. I’m making a commitment to reclaim my inner child, and to create a brand new version of my “good girl” who is spontaneous, playful, and flirty!
Incorporating more fun and play into our daily lives can improve the quality of our relationships, as well as our mood and outlook. Even during difficult times, taking time away from our troubles to play or laugh can help us feel better. It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine; I believe this is true. Oftentimes, the good feelings we have while laughing and having fun linger after the experience is over.
Keep in mind; age is a number, and being old is a mindset. Becoming an adult, with adult responsibilities, doesn’t mean we have to abandon playing and having fun. As we move into the encore of our lives, we must consistently tap into our inner child, and allow our playful nature to flow. Let us step out of our comfort zone, try something new, and commit to living life to the fullest!
If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy. — Proverb (unknown)