Playfulness. You only need to watch spring lambs in a field or any baby animal playing to bring a warm fuzzy feeling to your heart. Kids are also great at play. I popped into a local yoga centre recently, they have a little café and at the counter were 3 children, one behind playing the role of barista and the other two were the demanding customers. They were clearly having great fun, whilst their mum was teaching a yoga class. It was so cute, although I decided they weren’t quite up to producing a real cup of coffee for me!
As adults, are we too grown up for playfulness? I admit I do have quite a serious side. Growing up as an only child, I spent a lot of time around adults. I would say as a kid I was a quite mature for my years, I was a compliant and well behaved. I do remember pretending to be a teacher, shop assistant and creating a den in our living room, much to my Mum’s chagrin.
As adults we could, perhaps, think that play is just for children but perhaps not.
What is Playfulness?
When you look for the meaning of the word Playfulness, you find all these meanings and associations:
- Seeing the bright side
That all sounds pretty good, so I am wondering when did you last bring playfulness in your life? Indeed why would you?
What are the benefits of being Playful?
I decided to do some more research on playfulness and the more I learnt the more interesting it got.
Playfulness Counteracts Stress and Anxiety
Playfulness helps to reduce worry & anxiety, why, because if we can immerse ourselves in play we can leave our worries and stress aside for a while. When we let go of our cognitive, thinking mind we can be ‘in the moment’. It can help change our state of mind and give us a new perspective which is why it’s great for creativity. It can help us increase our resilience.
With so much negativity around climate change and loss of biodiversity you might even feel that playfulness is not something we should be thinking about but it’s precisely because we need to keep ourselves strong that we need to bring play to our lives.
Playfulness Helps you Learn and Problem Solve
Playfulness is in effect, exploration, pretending, trying out different things, in a safe way. That’s how humans and animals learn and that’s exactly why it’s great for adults too. If you make learning fun it’s far more stimulating and easier to absorb information, rather than approaching it as a hard slog. Bringing playfulness to a topic or task means shifting your mindset just a little and that can make all the difference.
We get into habits with our thinking but playfulness encourages us to think differently without really trying so it’s great for problem solving too. When we see a problem as a huge issue those stress hormones start flowing and our brain goes into meltdown but if we can make a ‘game’ out of it we can start to see the ‘problem’ as a challenge. It might sound corny but this is based on neuroscience.
Playfulness Creates new Outcomes
Playfulness encourages creativity and allows new possibilities emerge. When we are playing we are carefree, our analytical mind relaxes and our creative mind comes to the fore. When we are playful the outcome is not so important, we can just explore and see what happens. By deliberately breaking patterns we can bring more playfulness into our lives.
Playfulness Deepens Connection
Being playful with others can improve or help us develop our relationships. We can use play to bring a little unpredictability, impulsiveness and fun to interactions. Being playful requires us to be vulnerable; we must expose ourselves a little. To be ‘silly’ we need to feel comfortable and trust those around us, otherwise we expose ourselves to ridicule and rejection. Allowing others to see our vulnerability gives them the freedom to do the same and deepens a sense of connection.
At a time when we need to unite as communities and understand and cooperate with each other better, playful questions can bring about interesting results. I watched a great TED talk during my research Playful Inquiry by Robyn Stratton-Berkessel which illustrates this point perfectly.
Playfulness Brings more Joy & Happiness
Playfulness brings light-heartedness and joy, who doesn’t need more of that?! A phrase I heard this week is ‘there are always flowers for those that choose to see them’. Play helps us to feel more optimistic and fun loving and helps us to balance out the negativity and not-so-great things that happen in life. In fact, the tougher life is the more we need playfulness, which feels like a dichotomy. By being more playful ourselves we can naturally share fun and joy and encourage others to do the same.
Playfulness Creates Great Memories
When we play it not only makes things more enjoyable it helps to create strong positive memories. We are much more likely to remember things that have strong emotion associated with them so when we bring playfulness to events and shared time it helps to cement them in our psyche. Leaving a trail of positivity in our mind.
So how can we bring more Playfulness into our lives?
If playfulness is not something that comes to you naturally, or you just feel there is not enough of it in your life, like anything, it takes practice. You don’t need to be radical, start small. Ideas to bring more playfulness into your life are only limited by your imagination. So think storytelling, think of doing things just for fun, think of making a game out of a challenge.
Here are just a few suggestions but like me, when you begin to dwell on playfulness, you’d be surprised what you come up with. So let Spring be a time to get playful, the results might surprise you in a very good way.
Ideas for Playfulness
Pretend, take on a new persona
Do something creative, draw, paint, sing, dance
Make up a story
Pick an object and think of it’s qualities and what that can bring to your situation
Do something ‘just for fun’
Take a new route, preferably one where you don’t know where you will end up.
Meet a friend and do something spontaneously
Have a new hair do
Ask a playful question to a friend or a stranger
Invite friends around and play a board game
I do hope this article has brought some inspiration and I would love to hear how you’ve brought more play into your days. Feel free to get in touch via my Contact page, Instagram account or LinkedIn