When was the last time you played? I’m talking about the letting your hair down, singing at the top of your lungs, dancing like a maniac kind of play. Making mud pies, dancing in the rain, rolling around in paint kind of play. Nothing held back; just because it feels good.
Throughout most of my adult years I forgot how to play. I didn’t think play counted for much of anything. Sure, I played nice. I played safe. I played pretend. I’m not talking about the fun kind of play pretend; where you lay on your back and stare up at the skies to see what magic beings appear in the clouds. Or, you put on a cape and pretend to be a super hero/ine just because it feels right in the moment. I’m talking about the kind of playing pretend that gets a lock on your creativity, your heart, your soul and has you playing along in roles that your six year old self would find down right sad.
Your six year old self had a hold on a life lesson of the utmost importance and of the utmost silliness. You will never be too old to play or to have fun.
Playing keeps you healthy. It keeps you connected to the real you. (Tweet this.)
Playing is some of the best medicine I’ve experienced. Warning though, there are side effects…connection to yourself, connection to others, laugh lines, belly aches from too much laughter, tears due to excessive amounts of giggling, and a renewed sense of balance.
So, what does play look like for you? If you were able to play, goof off, be silly, act a little nutty…what would that be for you? Maybe you play tag with a group of your 40-50 year old guy friends. Perhaps you dress up in tiaras, tutus, capes, and fairy wings with your girlfriends. It might be getting a bucket of side walk chalk just for yourself and coloring up your sidewalk. Maybe you have an impromptu dance party with your kids or partner or by yourself.
If you’re anything like I was just a few months ago, the idea of playing may sound silly, or a waste of time, or very overwhelming. Asking yourself questions like, “Gah, what do I find fun?” If you don’t know what play looks like for you, I encourage you to try a bunch of different things (see above; they are all things I have done recently). The awesome thing about play is that there is no right way to do it!
As well, a list I’ve made for myself recently includes: dancing, playing in the rain, making mud pies, finger painting, camping, singing at the top of my lungs while twirling in circles, taking a trapeze class, having a sleepover, pulling out that old game of Twister you used to play, making animals with pipe cleaners or playdoh.
Think back to what you liked to do as a kid. If you’re not sure, take a look at some kids for inspiration. They are our best teachers when it comes to play. My Rx for you: play everyday, no exceptions.
So, what do you do to play?
How do you schedule play?
Will you make a promise to yourself to play at least once today? I sure hope so. Let us know how it goes.
Erica Holthausen says
Charlie, this is exactly the type of challenge I need! I’ll confess, that the first time I read this post I worried about whether I would have a clue how to play. But then I called my nine-year-old nephew. Done. He had all sorts of good ideas for me (some of which need to wait until summer). So, I’m giving myself permission to play. I’m going to dance to some of my favorite music, sing loudly and out of tune, twirl until I fall down, and dive into that drawer of art supplies that I’ve never used so I can be a truly terrible artist! Oh, and skipping! I definitely don’t skip enough.
Hi Erica. I’m so glad that you talked to your nephew and have some great ideas for play. Good for you!!! Don’t forget that art, just like play, is beautiful and wonderful no matter how it comes out.
Erica Holthausen says
Oh, this would have been so much better had I actually read the name of the writer! Thank you, Angela! I loved this piece.
No worries at all, Erica. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Jo Casey says
Great post Angela (love your energy & sense of fun!)
I’m a big advocate of us grown ups stretching our play muscles – but so many of us are raised to think that to work = serious! I was once discussing the same subject with a group on a Creative Thinking course and one of the participants gave me such a push back when I suggested creativity required play. “Work shouldn’t be enjoyable!” he said – needless to say, I think he’s probably still struggling with the creativity thing!
Thank you, Jo. I love that visual…stretching our play muscles. So beautifully said!
I was in that mindset myself for so long, that work couldn’t be fun and that if I was playing it meant that I wasn’t doing something productive. I get how easy it is to see work that way in our culture. And, I’m very happy now that I have found a differently reality for myself.