As adults, we are often made to feel that “playing” is not something we should be doing. It is only reserved for young children. Even teenagers are encouraged not to be playful and to become serious. Ever told to “stop messing around” when you weren’t being harmful, just laughing?
This also extends to our imaginations and the play worlds we create in our minds. When I was a teenager I was discouraged from reading fantasy novels by a teacher I respected and so started studying “the classics”. This served me well in ways but I should have been shown (or realised myself) that I could read both! We don’t have to leave joy behind when we become adults. The two ideas can exist in the same universe!
We are also made to confuse being playful with being sexual as we become adults, particularly as women. If someone is described as playful, it often means flirtatious. This shouldn’t be the case. Anyone of any age should be encouraged to bring more traditional play into their lives, just as we would have as children.
Ways to bring more playfulness into your life;
1.Play like a child, literally! At what point do children’s pastimes become a no-go? When you start secondary school? When we leave school? I think it’s the moment we become more self conscious and that can happen at any age, even during childhood. Or rather, we are made to be self conscious by the world around us. Well I say no thank you to this, carry on playing like a child! Play on the park (don’t scare any actual children though!), skip around, use colouring in books, anything that seems fun- do it!
2.Leading on, play with children. Spending time with little folk is so energising, even if at the time they tire you out with their games. I have a young brother and sister and am so grateful to have them to remind me the playful fun that can be had in childhood and beyond.
3. Use your imagination. This is the biggest difference between having a sense of play and not. If we are able to use our imaginations, we can build a more colourful world for ourselves. We can turn a simple trip to the supermarket into a grand adventure. Or a walk in the woods into an expedition. This helps us see the wonder in the ordinary. It might take practice. We have our imaginations pushed aside as we grow to make room for facts and figures but with repeated exercises such as pretending a simple boat trip is an exploration of a new world (which it can be, even if you have seen the place a thousand times, find the unknown) our ability to imagine will strengthen and a whole new life might just unfold. Remember, if we don’t have imagination, we also can’t picture a better way for our lives to be. So if you’re in a situation you don’t like, the best way to begin to leave it behind is by creating that new life in your mind first, just as children do with make believe lands!
Never stop playing, it’s the base for how we can create the life we truly wish for ourselves!
Are you already playful? Feel free to share your tips below and we can start a playful revolution!