Let’s get started… Playfulness

When handling the many difficult situations life will throw your way, it is usually helpful to be a little bit playful.

 

Married life and adulting can be pretty serious at times. You have responsibilities to each other, to your household, to your work, your families and friends, not to mention budgeting and paying bills, shopping, and cleaning the house. But all that does not mean that you should neglect being playful and carefree.  Perhaps as an adult, you need playfulness more than ever.

The antidote to too much seriousness is play. What is playfulness?

The dictionary defines playfulness as: the quality of being light-hearted or full of fun.

What does that look like in adults? For one, to be playful, you’d have to let down your inhibitions and act from your lighter side.  (More about different types of playfulness in just a bit.)

There’s a difference between relaxing activities and playfulness.  Just because something is enjoyable doesn’t qualify it as play. Watching a video, reading a book or a slow cup of coffee can be relaxing, but these aren’t playful. And as a result, they don’t get you the deep relaxation and stress relief that genuine play does.

The key factor that separates playfulness from other forms of seemingly relaxing, stress-reducing forms of downtime is novelty. Far from the mind-numbing quality of most of our adult diversions from work, genuine play is radically stimulating, thought-provoking, and challenging even. The key difference is that it’s challenging and novel in a different way. In a way that isn’t seriously goal-oriented or pressure-filled.

There are many important benefits of play for adults.

Playful people can reduce stress for themselves and others around them.

Taking a lighter approach can help people to worry less and relax more. You can use playfulness to break the tension in any situation or indulge in some good-natured teasing or banter to lift spirits during a tough day.

Playfulness helps us see things from a new perspective, and come up with novel solutions.

Regular play is a powerful way to see the world with new eyes. That fresh perspective fosters creativity which is especially helpful dealing with complex problems.  A playful way of thinking can generate unusual and novel solutions.

Playful people are good at observing and noticing details in unusual and unexpected ways, and can make novel connections between seemingly unrelated things.  

They also can recognize possibilities that people who are stuck at looking at things the same old way may miss.  

And, they are also  good at approaching issues from varying perspectives. 

These are all key in coming up with creative and out-of-the-box solutions  (and that is why Google spends so much on creating a playful work environment).

  • Many forms of play are wonderful training grounds for simultaneously exercising our capacities for analytical and creative thinking.

Play tends to build and strengthen bonds between people.

Play can make our existing relationships more intimate and meaningful. 

  • Firstly, laughing together with another person just feels great.
  • Play helps us to let down our inhibitions and be vulnerable and intimate when it may otherwise be difficult for us. And nothing accelerates a relationship (of any kind) like intimacy.
  • Humor together can help make a difficult situation a bit lighter so that you can get through it together.
  • Additionally, play brings novelty. And every relationship needs novelty and newness as an antidote to the humdrum of everyday life.

Play makes life more interesting and distracts from stress.

When play is a consistent part of your lives, it often generates new and interesting things to think about throughout the day. This can help dramatically in the task of worrying less and lowering your anxiety.  And it gives you interesting things to talk about together.

It’s hard to stop worrying and think about something else, when you don’t have much in your life that you’re interested in or excited about.  It is worthwhile to foster interesting and fun thoughts and activities that will “outcompete your worry.”

How playful are you?

Take this little (unscientific) quiz which may give you a sense of your playfulness. Later, we’ll share some ideas to increase and enhance playfulness in your life.

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1. Winning is everything when playing a game.

2. I can laugh at myself.

3. I like to find ways to have fun while at work.

4. I like my day to be tightly structured so I'll know exactly where I'll be and what I'll be doing.

5. Wearing a mask or costume on Purim is fun to me.

6. I keep a tight rein on my impulses and emotions.

7. I notice "off and unusual" things in my environment and am often amused by them.

8. To me clowning or playing around is more a waste of time than anything else.

9. I would rather go to a museum than an amusement park.

10. I find most memes and gifs amusing.

11. My close friends expect light-hearted ribbing and teasing from me.

12. I consider it fun to throw snowballs or build sand castles.

How playful are you?

You are not all that playful.

Yet. Or maybe it is that you are not all that playful anymore. We are all born playful; just look at any kid. With some effort, you can get back to your inner playfulness. It's worth it.

You are quite playful.

You probably know how to crack yourself up. And also bring a smile to those around you.

You are somewhat playful; it all depends on what is going on around you.

You have it in you. You are probably fun to be around and you can find the humor in some situations. You might benefit from working to increase that playfulness for an even more productive life.
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