When was the last time you played playfully?
“Played what?” you might ask. “Tennis, cards, the guitar, a good crossword puzzle?”
Could be. It’s also possible to embody the spirit of playfulness while doing your job.
But when you’re playing with a grim determination to excel, you’re not being playful.
Playful: “liking play; prone to play, like a child or kitten; experimental; frolicsome,” says the dictionary. “Lighthearted, in the now, letting go of judgment, gently poking fun at oneself,” adds the spiritual master.
Experts agree that playfulness makes life better:
- It is a sign of health among animals. Scientists say the healthier and safer the herd feels, the more they play.
- Playfulness is one of the signs of a marriage that is likely to last, according to relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman. It can ease tension during times of stress.
- “Playfulness motivates people to learn mathematics and makes them more likely to own what they learn,” says the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics.
- People who practice “laughter yoga” reduce their blood pressure as well as the stress they feel.
- Finally, playfulness made the short list of the 24 most important human strengths identified by researchers in the Positive Psychology movement.
Are you ready to play?
Try these exercises from our Euphoria! personal learning course to move you into the safe, lighthearted space where playfulness thrives.
- Take a deep breath and raise your shoulders up to your ears. As you exhale, drop your shoulders and make the sound “Ahhhhhhhh.”Do it one more time. Feel as if you’ve let go of a large burden. You’re free. Let that feeling flow down through your body to the soles of your feet and out. Ahhhhhhhh.
- Now gently smile, remember some experience that gave you great satisfaction, and make the sound “Hmmmm,” the sound we make when something is absolutely delicious.
Notice the breath deep in your belly. Put that smile in the corners of your eyes and the corners of your mouth, and make that happy hum again.
Feel the breath flowing in, through every part of your body, into your belly, expanding your lower abdomen. Then exhale, Hmmmmm, and feel the breath flowing out through every part of you, expanding your field of vision and your sense of possibility.
Now, ask yourself, “What’s the right way for me to add a dash of playfulness to my life right now?”
The answer is inside you.