Do you take things in life too seriously? Are you injecting any fun into your daily routine? I often need a swift kick in ass to remind me to just chill out and enjoy life because I easily get sucked into the “vortex of seriousness“.
Here’s the thing. The swift kick I get is actually not a kick at all, but rather the laughter or smile from my 8-year old daughter.
I am always amazed at how she can find joy, fun, and pleasure in almost anything. She injects play into every part of her life every single day. Just today I was being ‘the serious parent’ and she looked at me with her playful eyes and said: “Daddy, I loooooove you!” This was followed by a huge smile on my face and I forgot all about whatever it was that made me so serious in the first place!
This reminds me of a great book I am reading called The Power by Rhonda Byrne who also wrote the international best seller The Secret. One of the keys to power that Rhonda writes about is The Key of Play. She points out that at some point we just stopped playing like we did as children and became so much more serious about life.
“Seriousness brings serious circumstances. When you play and have fun, you feel really good, and really good circumstances come into your life”
Think about it. When you are serious do you feel good? NO! When you are serious do you enjoy life? NO! Would you want to hang out with the guy who everyone thinks is “too serious”? Heck NO!
Life is supposed to be fun, so play dammit!
The 4 Parts of P.L.A.Y.
So I decided to use my imagination a bit and play around with the word ‘play’.
- P – peel back your outer layer
- L – loosen up
- A – acknowledge others
- Y – ‘youthanize’ yourself
1. Peel Back Your Outer Layer
Geert Hofstede, a social psychologist said that “culture is like an onion”. In his view culture is a system that can be peeled, layer by layer, in order to reveal the inner, true content. At the core of the cultural onion are values – those things that people hold dear to them. This is also a great visual when we think about ourselves. Our core are the values that define who we are, our authenticity. This is ultimately what attracts people to us. Yet often the outer layer we tend to show the public is not based in what is true and genuine.
For example, fun may be a core value you express only in your private life, but once you get to the office you turn the fun switch off and get down to business. This outer layer portrays you as the ‘guy who is way too serious’ and guess what, no one wants to hang out with the serious guy!
Social psychologists say that people are naturally either private-self dominant or public-self dominant. We don’t necessarily fit into one group and we all have public and private elements to our personalities. What I am suggesting is peeling back the outer layer to reveal your true playful side.
2. Loosen Up
Has anyone every told you to just “loosen up”? Usually it’s because you are so tense up you look like you are about to explode. We all have our own ways to loosen up, but here are a few that seem to work for me.
- Get some fresh air – Walk away from your desk, computer, iPad, or whatever and just go for a stroll in the park, jump on a bicycle, or simply sit under a tree. It is amazing what some air and sunlight can do for you.
- Take a cat nap – Remember nap time when you were a kid? Sure it may have been an excuse for the teacher to have a break, but in reality that short nap helped to calm kids down. Take a snooze for 30 minutes or even just close your eyes and breathe deeply.
- Shake the sillies out - I learned this one from my sister who would tell her cranky daughters to jump up and down, run around the house 5 times, or dance around the room. Simply giving them permission to go nuts for a few moments actually worked. Give yourself permission to do the same.
- Play a game – This is a favorite of mine. Drop what you are doing and find a game you enjoy – video game, crossword puzzle, Go Fish!, whatever. My way to loosen up is to play a game of Uno with my daughter. Sheer joy and man do I feel better (even when she beats me!)
3. Acknowledge Others
You got to where you are today through the help of others. If you think you did it all on your own YOU ARE DEAD WRONG! Take a brief moment each and every day to show a bit of appreciation and gratitude towards others. For most of us, all we want is to be acknowledged: to be heard, considered and appreciated. We want to be seen.
When you say a simple “Thank You” to another person, what happens? They smile and then YOU smile too!
4. ‘Youthanize’ Yourself
Yes, the correct word is ‘youthanize‘, not ‘euthanize‘. What I mean by this is simple: BE A KID AGAIN! I think it is fair to say that we are all slowly killing ourselves by not injecting play into our daily lives. Personally, I become a boring person to be around if I am all work and no play. Remember the classic line in the Shining? “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Now maybe I am being a bit dramatic here, but like the main character in the Shining YOU WILL GO MAD IF YOU DO NOT YOUTHANIZE YOURSELF!
There are two keys to ‘youthanization':
- Don’t hesitate. If you feel like doing something just do it and stop once you are no longer getting enjoyment from it. If you get the urge to ride your bike, what’s stopping you?
- “Wouldn’t it be fun if I…” Incorporate this saying into your daily discourse. Find ways to just have some fun. This is what kids do when they are ‘planning’ their day. I still remember a time when my daughter used a plastic bag as toy and spent a solid 30 minutes tossing it in the air to prevent it from hitting the ground. Brilliant!
So remember, life is supposed to be fun! What are some ways your inject PLAY in your life? I would love to hear your ideas so share a comment below.