As we grow into adulthood and our responsibilities increase, we forget how to be playful. Many experts tell us to remember what we loved to do as children to retrieve that playfulness.
But if childhood was hard or traumatic you may not recall much joy. I had to go back to age three to remember what I loved to do before my parents tamped down my free spirit.
That was the age when I tried to get my mother’s attention while she talked on the phone. Without warning, she slapped me hard across the face.
I internalized the message that attention seeking was dangerous and did my best to avoid it after that. I turned down countless opportunities to shine because of my fear of being noticed.
Such incidences impact us in ways that feel indelible. But there are still ways we can, as adults, let the little child inside us out to play.
Here are 5 simple ways to be more playful in life and relationships.
You don’t have to be a trained dancer to turn on a playlist and move around your living room.
Dancing is a fun form of fitness and doesn’t require any special routine or talent. Just groove to the music.
My daughter, an Enneagram 7, makes everything into a game. That’s why she’s never bored.
Once, while we were out on a mundane shopping trip, she told her sister they were going to play the sitting down game. That meant any time they saw a chair they had to sit down in it!
2. Incorporate novelty (new experiences)
This could mean taking a different route on your daily walk or drive to work. Or grabbing an ice cream cone on the way home.
Take a cooking class. Learn to play an instrument. Study art history. All these (and more) can be done online.
3. Wear something playful
Have you been dressing to blend in when you want to stand out? Put on something sparkly or outrageous like a feather boa or tiara.
4. Do something outside your comfort zone
How about a karaoke night? Or improv classes. These increase confidence and flexibility because they offer endless positive feedback and you can’t make a mistake (“yes, and“).
5. Watch silly animal videos
Go to YouTube and search up funny cat or dog videos. Hamsters running on wheels are also guaranteed to make you laugh.