“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you change and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus Christ
Remember when you were a child? How often you laughed? How you would play for hours on end without getting tired?
All you wanted to do was play, and you had seemingly limitless energy. Then, somewhere along the way, likely around adolescence, you became aware of your reputation, the opposite sex, how you looked, your grades, college, etc.
You began to play less and less. The older you got, the more responsibilities you had. By the time you entered into adulthood, you rarely played at all, and no longer had that seemingly infinite fountain of energy that you possessed as a child.
You sometimes looked back and thought about how much fun it was to be child, but never could quite figure out what it was that made you more joyful as a youth.
You chalked it up to things like, I had so much fun as a kid because I didn’t have any responsibilities, and accepted that those days were over.
But did you want them to be? Were you really done playing or did it slowly get lost in the shuffle? As you prioritized things like college, work, cleaning the house, and so on, you were unintentionally left with no time to play.
Most adults’ idea of play is drinking alcohol and partying. I’m in no way criticizing that, however, that isn’t the healthy form of play we’re discussing here.
Most adults have forgotten how to enjoy simply playing. Things like a game of kickball or climbing a tree no longer seem to hold the same excitement they once did, but what are we missing out on by playing less, or not at all?
As usual, I’m glad you asked. We are missing out on unique exercises, which allow us to burn calories, and move our bodies in ways that we typically don’t.
This encourages flexibility in areas that we may otherwise become rigid in. It also brings one into the present moment, and stimulates the mental faculties.
It brings one back to the simple joys in life, absent of electronics, etc. It encourages bonding with other people since usually (though not always) more than one person are required to play.
Another benefit, and I believe this is the greatest, is that it encourages inner peace, and a light heartedness. We have been taught that play is for children, and that it’s not as important as work, but on the contrary, it’s vital for our overall sense of well-being.
Not only that, once we rewire our brains to enjoy it, it becomes fun. The interesting thing is that there is technically no specific activity that constitutes play. Playing is a state of mind. Y
ou can do anything playfully. You can have an uncomfortable conversation playfully, you can work playfully. Some people do this naturally, and some have to make a conscious effort.
It is a vital skill that facilitates an enjoyment of life. When someone is playful and lighthearted they are a pleasure to be around, because they are happy and free from anxiety.
This is because their energy is expressed, rather than repressed. On the other hand, when we lack this basic skill we can become rigid and uptight.
It’s a trip right? We have been taught that playing is a waste of time, and a luxury only afforded to children. So where do we start?
It’s as simple as it sounds, but if you haven’t done much playing in several months or years and are unsure of what you’d enjoy, I recommend giving yourself a sampler platter.
Pick a day and time, maybe on the weekend, that works for you and start trying activities that seem like fun. Also, think back to when you were a child. What did you like to do?
Where did you like to go? What made you happy? You can start there. Also, and this may be even more beneficial, inject some fun into your daily activities.
Again, play is a mental attitude, so approach things like work or cleaning with a playful attitude.
Have some fun with your coworkers in a way that’s appropriate for your work environment, turn on your favorite playlist while you clean the house, smile for no reason while driving, make silly faces at yourself in the bathroom mirror.
All of these things will help to lighten and loosen you up, and over time they will affect all areas of your life in a wonderful way.
This may all sound like common sense but remember, the most profound things are often the simplest things. I find that in today’s fast paced world where the average person has so much, often we forget to do the simple things, and those are often the things that bring us the most joy and peace.
So the next time someone tells you to grow up or stop acting childish, say thanks but no thanks. With all my love,