Are You Too Grown Up To Play?
Are you too busy adulating to play?
I’ve decided I don’t play enough, but I used to. The only explanation I can think of is just adulthood. So I’m gearing up to make 2016 the year of play (and microadventures, but that falls under play for me).
Brene Brown, of amazing-TED-talk-on-vulnerability fame, researches living a whole-hearted life, which she defines as:
Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, yes I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid but that doesn’t cancel the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.
I certainly do not always feel like I’m enough yet, but I’ve settled in for the lifelong practice of honing the guideposts that lead to a wholehearted life.
Speaking of guideposts (see what I did there?), there are ten guideposts from good old BB that result in living wholeheartedly.
- Cultivate Authenticity – Let go of what people think about you
- Cultivate Self-Compassion – Let go of perfectionism
- Cultivate a Resilient Spirit – Let go of numbing and powerlessness
- Cultivate Gratitude and Joy – Let go of scarcity
- Cultivate Intuition and Trusting Faith – Let go of the need for certainty
- Cultivate Creativity – Let go of comparison
- Cultivate Play and Rest – Let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth
- Cultivate Calm and Stillness – Let go of anxiety as a lifestyle
- Cultivate Meaningful Work – Let go of self-doubt and “supposed to”
- Cultivate Laughter, Song, and Dance – Let go of being cool and “always in control”
That’s a lot of cultivating and a lot of letting go.
For me, right now, guideposts three and seven are linked and require some focus.
Cultivating resilience involves letting go of numbing.
I numb through:
(in particular, I eat chocolate when I’m home alone with the kidlet because it seems so boring and loser-ish, and not the life I want to be living. Which just made me realise that at the same time, I am allowing powerlessness instead of letting it go. I feel like there’s ‘nothing I can do about it’ when I have to stay home, when in fact we all know there are a lot of options in that moment. We’ll come back to this another time)
Netflix is great n all, but have you ever found yourself awake at half past midnight, binge watching Game of Thrones? No, me neither. This isn’t the life I want to be living either, but while the show is playing I can avoid looking at what I actually WANT to be doing in those moments. Instead, I sit on the couch, eat chocolate, and catch up on 6 seasons of Lost.
In these moments of numbing (and in plenty of other moments in my life), I want to spend more time playing! So I decided to write a list of what play looks like for me (I love a good list).
Before I jump into the list, here’s the definition of play according to BB’s source:
- It doesn’t have a purpose (it’s done simply for its own sake)
- You lose track of time whilst you do it
- You don’t want it to end
- You feel unselfconscious whilst doing the playful activity
- We’re open to serendipity and chance while we do it (rather than being locked into a strict set of rules)
Do you play?
I do, but only a little, so I want to do more. And then I realised I needed to work out what play even looks like to me!
My goal is to spend the time that I sometimes numb doing something that I consider play, instead.
Things I think of as play:
- Dancing, but I’m really NOT a dance-around-the-living-room kinda person.
I like dancing in clubs to house (is that even what the kids call it these days? Techno? Well, whatever, some kinds of dance music. I like this, for instance), doing choreographed ballroom-type dancing like the jive and swing dancing with a partner who knows how to throw me around the dancefloor, and going to really hard step classes (I’m on the hunt for one that’s not body step. If you know of one in Sydney please let me know in the comments!).
Oh MAN this brings me so much joy! Have you ever been? My fav so far was a session with Dave Stringer, and if you have any Sydney recommendations I need them!
Yep, supergeek! I can lose a LOT of time doing sodoku. I do find that I need to be aware of it turning into a numbing activity. My gauge is whether I feel more energised from sodoku-ing, or it’s starting to make me tired.
- Reading fiction
Ahhh I have always loved reading (fiction, when it’s not prescribed. I didn’t finish a single book assigned in English class for ages 12-15). Faves are Margaret Attwood and Liane Moriarty. I’m also always looking for recommendations, so please comment below with your favourite book!
Another playful activity I’ve always loved, and it’s going to feature in my year of microadventures. I was actually recalling today the first time I went for a hike about age 13 or 14, didn’t stretch (because kids don’t stretch) and had tight muscles the next day. I can remember thinking, ‘this must be what Dad is talking about when he says he’s stiff.’
- Walking on the beach
I live a twelve minute walk from the beach, but I have only touched the sand a handful of times this year. I love strolling the length of the beach with the salty air, the seagulls and the water chasing my footprints. It all feels ‘too hard’ with the little dude, but I think he would love it as much as I do!
- Playing games like Pictionary and articulate (but not strategy games)
Much fun! So competition! Huge creative thinking! I’m already planning a games night since thinking of this list.
- Table tennis (ping pong)
Ahh I love a bit of friendly competition and heckling at the ping pong table. I could play for HOURS. Although if I’m totally honest, I can sometimes be a bad sport and like playing less if I’m losing by a lot time and again.
- Sharing dinner or drinks with friends
I love friends. I love prosecco. I love cheese. So basically those three combined is the best thing in my life. I really love having dinner parties, inviting friends over for meals, going out for group dinners. It’s all about the group; dinner alone just doesn’t hold the same appeal, and although I often joke about cracking the wine as soon as the time hits double digits, I actually rarely have even a glass of wine on my own. But when I’m with friends.. watch out!
- Going to the movies
But for some reason, not watching them at home. At home it feels lazy, at the cinema it feels like a treat. I love movie popcorn, and the giant seats, and switching off from the world for a couple of hours.
- Events like adventure races
This fits in my year of microadventures theme! Last year I did the Miss Muddy race with a group of friends and it was SO FUN!
I’m not interested in the hard core super competitive races like Tough Mudder (have you seen that? They actually ELECTROCUTE people at the end of the race! With enough voltage that people get knocked off their feet! I’m amazed no one’s DIED doing it! I had a video I was going to share but I feel too icky, I don’t think it’s funny and everyone watching is roaring with laughter)
But I AM interested in fun obstacle courses. I spent 6 weeks volunteering in Africa in my past, and one afternoon on the worksite (we were helping build animal shelters for a school, to provide continuous income) I suggested we downed tools and built an obstacle course. The African workers thought we were nuts and everyone laughed their little heads off. And no one got electrocuted.
More microadventures! There seems to be a theme here.
Are you interested in microadventures? I’m toying with the idea of starting a microadventures group, would you join? Let me know in the comments whether you’d be keen to join in.
- Travelling and exploring new places
More of a macro adventure, I heart travelling so hard. And I’m loving the additional adventure of taking a two year old with me (unexpected, right??). In 2015 I made it to New Zealand, Costa Rica, Chicago, New York, Bali, England, Portugal, Switzerland, and Venice. Not a bad year at all!
- Horse riding
Such a passion. Sometimes I think I love horse riding so much that it’s bad for the rest of my life, as all I can think about is how I can add more horse riding into my life!
- Physical challenges – rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking
I really like being physical, moving my body and being out in nature.
I’m a bush baby though, I much prefer land activities than water-based, so ocean swimming holds little appeal. I mention this only because these activities seem similar – walking on the beach, swimming in the ocean – but one is play for me and the other isn’t.
- Bike riding and chatting with friends
My poor old bike has had a flat tyre for about three years. I used to cycle to and from work and the horse stables, and it transformed my life! But I keep putting it away and not getting it back out. I’m put off by the hills, but it’s time to give it another try. I’m going to do what I need to, to make this easier – get a car bike rack so I can start on the flat in the park, get a second child seat, so I can take the little dude on my bike on my own.
Another hot tip for you:
Make playing as easy as possible for yourself. We often fail to see the inherent value in play, so make it easy to start playing before you talk yourself out of it.
- Doing puzzles
Often when people ask what you loved to do as a child I think, ‘irrelevant! Kids like stupid sh!t like barbies.’ However, quite a few activities from when I was a kid have made it onto this list – reading, hiking, horse riding, going to the movies, ping pong… and puzzles!
I can spend hours shuffling the pieces into place. The hubster sometimes knows me better than I know myself, and a few years ago bought me a puzzle for Christmas – the first one I’d done for a lot of years.
I was too worried about looking like a geek, but in the end, it’s my life and I have to live it, so I might as well spend time playing at things I love.
- Things with community – group picnics, group activities
As I said, I love prosecco, cheese and friends. Wonderful! So activities with groups and friends really light me up.
As an extrovert I get energy from being around people. At the end of a day of writing workshop with the inspiring Alexandra Franzen we all went out for a meal, were discussing who was tired, and I said, ‘I am, but I’ll wake up now that we’re here.’ So if you’re feeling lonely give me a call, I’d love to hang out! (and, interestingly, this is also my growing edge, as I can sometimes try to hard to ‘fit in’ so that I can be with people instead of wholeheartedly being me in all my glory)
- Pulse Activities
I like to have my finger on the pulse. Theatre, comedy, new bars, interesting events (like polo in the park, or weird immersive performances, or art exhibitions). I am constantly finding new things to do and then trying to get a group of people together to come along with me!
- Playing the violin
With this one I struggle with not comparing or feeling self-conscious. I haven’t played since before I met the hubster ten years ago, but when I did I could easily spend hours jigging away.
And look at that! Without even trying I’ve got a list of 20 things I like to do for play.
I’m going to test these out, and practice adding more play into my life.
I would love to know what you have come up with for your list of play! Please share some of your ideas in the comments, I would love more inspiration!
Thanks for being here friends, now you know for sure I love you since I’ve said how many times I love being surrounded by people!
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