Since my research and interest in the place of play within self development, play itself has been the last thing I've wanted to do. Ironic right? "Typical" some might say. I've felt a bit lost, drowning in the noise, and seeking clarity. So how the heck could I play through that? No way. I need to put my head down and mine my heart, my head, my subconscious, my elbow, my big-fucking-toe for the answer. Hint: I just ended up at the bottom of that mine. Feeling like a small child scared that they'll never be found during a game of Hide + Seek, and further from any answers than before.
Three days ago I flew from Australia to Denmark and on the plane the concept of Play was thrust in front of my eyes numerous times in Abiola Abrams book, Peta Kellys book, and a newsletter from Gabby Bernstein. It was as if play were nudging me "Yo Kris you never return my calls anymore!"
Unfortunately adulting has become a world of pretty low vibes. Pressure, traffic jams, stress, expectation, RSI from social scrolling, hustle, addiction, identity crisis. But the times in which we think "fuck off, this CANNOT be fun" are the times we most need to soften our furrowed brows, swallow our venomous words, perhaps fake it a bit to start, but ultimately give play a chance. Far from trivial, this is serious stuff that could improve our well-being, resilience, and life experience with one simple question:
What could this be like if it were fun?
It is important to note, this is not asking you to erase your feelings or ignore your responsibilities. It is not about becoming deliriously happy in an instant. It is not about ignoring the call for a day of quiet solitude, Netflix, and slow comforts. Instead it is choosing to no longer stay in the mental mire, and acknowledge what you can do to create moments more joyful than the ones before. This does not make your suffering any less significant.
Today for example I should have every reason to be floating on Cloud 9. On a working holiday to my second home of Copenhagen, with friends I've not seen in 12 months, and a glorious sunny heat wave. But I was full of worry, preoccupied with what work I was missing. What I was going to write next. What will be happening when I get home. A suffocating future trip. So I took the Play Pill. I bought a cookie from my favourite raw cafe, came back to my friends' apartment, changed into my neon blue aerobics tights instead of black jeans, turned on some tunes, did a great solo 80s power ballad performance of "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", sat in the sun and an hour later this post came out of my fingertips. To be honest, I still feel a bit "meh" but I am smiling with gratitude, I'm shoulder rolling to Michael Jackson, and I'm enjoying the act of working from a beautiful apartment on the other side of the planet. As Peta Kelly says "play is how we clear toxic residue from our cells that's been accumulating from every FB scroll, every horrific news story, every long day on our computer..."
Once we let play in, we can begin to crowd worry out. We can begin to appreciate that much of what we worry about it not as important as we think. And much of what we worry about is a search for grand answers on a silver platter that never come. So we might as well play and explore right? Worry clearly isn't working! I know this is hard to buy into, I expect many of you reading think this idea is a crock of shit. And that's OK. I understand. But I also throw the ball back to you to try. Take time for it.
Here are some ideas for integrating play:
- Inject more colour into your life - redecorate the house or your work space, paint even if you're not an artist (finger painting counts), get messy
- Play with the way you dress - accessories, hairstyles, less time in active wear and sweatpants
- Cook something completely new - play with your taste buds, your presentation, your ingredients, activate your senses
- Move your body in a new way - aerial yoga, dance class, skip down the beach instead of walk, dance like Elaine from Seinfeld in your living room, play fight with your partner or kids
- Change up your mode of transport - buy or rent a bicycle, car pool with friends, let your kid teach you how to skateboard, walk a different route to normal
- Turn up the music - because you don't feel shit after a good boogie, singalong, or headbang right?
- Go a day without a To Do List - whaaaaaa? Leave things to chance? Never!! Go rouge, fly by the seat of your pants you rebel
- Play paintball, go bowling, go to an arcade, have a water fight in the yard, make a slip'n'slide...
Don't miss another post! Subscribe | Image by Unsplash