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 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.
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.
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).
Play can make our existing relationships more intimate and meaningful.
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.”
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.