Can play, imagination, curiosity and invention be a part of every day? As an adult, you can reconnect to the playful spirit and untapped source of energy that are your birthright when you embrace these simple tools in your life.
Give Yourself Permission to Be You
Stop censoring your actions. Be you—the only you there is. No one else is qualified for the job. Have fun, have a sense of humor and have a million laughs. Be an optimist; be the person you were as a child. Do something new, exciting and different. Look at life from a different point of view. Get curious; ask a trillion questions, and experience the joy in looking for the answers. Make new friends and cherish the old (some are silver and the others gold). Invite creativity to become as much a part of the fabric of your daily life as your everyday routines like making the bed, cooking meals, cleaning the house and caring for the people you love. Look at these everyday, seemingly mundane tasks and see where you can infuse them with spirit, individuality and fun.
This quote by Gilda Radner, the comedian who died too young, is a great reminder of the importance of being you: “While we have the gift of life, it seems to me the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die, whether it is our spirit, our creativity or our glorious uniqueness.”
Think of Yourself as Being Creative
I heard a great story of Edward Adamson, an English art therapist who asked a group of high school–aged children to look at a brick and write down as many things they could imagine the brick being used for. Some children had no problem, jotting, with ease, a hundred ideas. Other children struggled, so he asked those children to close their eyes and imagine they were eccentric artists known for their creative flair. Once they had an image of themselves as innovative, artsy people, he asked them to open their eyes and again look at the brick and write down all the things that the brick could become. This time, the children overflowed with ideas. The difference was they now saw themselves as “artists.”
If you think of yourself as a creative person, you will begin to act in creative ways. Use this new perspective of yourself and act as if your work, chores, commute and duties are outlets for your creativity—and they will be!
Each day we create our own destiny. Create for the fun of creating. Trust your intuition. Act fast. Act decisively. Live an untamed life. Enjoy the warmth of that big yellow sunshine beaming down on you from the corner of your life’s picture book.
Follow your dreams.
What dreams lay forgotten within you, unvoiced and unnoticed? We grow up, go to school, learn about the world and gather information. Then we graduate, get a job, chose a partner — become an adult! This is what is expected of us. Growing older we make choices and take on new responsibilities. What happens to those distant dreams we had as children?
Do you wake up now feeling like something is missing? Shouldn’t there be more? Didn’t you have grand dreams for who you would become and what you would do in your life? What were those dreams?
What if you could have a dialogue with your child-self, to reconnect with your original dreams? What would you discover that could be brought into your life today? Your dreams connect you with a deeper sense of your inner truth. Connecting with the wisdom you had in place as a child brings alive long-forgotten possibilities.
You don’t have to look far to see examples of play at work in the world. It always makes me feel soulful and happy when I watch Ellen DeGeneres dance at the start of her daily talk show. Ellen is just being herself—her playful, creative self, dancing for the sheer fun of it. Then, the audience starts standing up and dancing with her. Each day, fans cheer for the ritual to continue. Dancing at the start of the show has become her signature—a way for Ellen to connect with her audience. Her carefree individual style of play has given others the permission to do the same.
Take a dance class, go bowling, play cards, ride a bike, take a hike, have fun. And play often.
Smile and Laugh
“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do,” Mother Teresa said. She reminds us that a smile has great power to connect, to heal, and to uplift. My daughter and I were driving to the store when she was 11 or 12 years old, and I noticed she was waving to every car around us. I witnessed her smiling, and I saw the people in the cars around us smiling and waving as well. When I asked her what she was doing, she replied, “The last time we went to the store, I waved at 25 people and 20 waved back. Today, I waved at 30 people and 30 waved back and smiled.” For my daughter on this day, her success was measured in smiles and greetings. Aren’t smiles and greetings the measurement for joy and success for all of our lives?
Come to Your Senses
Come to your senses! Use your whole self as you engage in the world each day. Use them by tasting, smelling, touching, seeing and hearing life. Our senses are our most valued resource for living creatively, yet far too often we ignore them. We eat dinner on the run, not tasting the flavors or textures. We don’t see the wildflowers growing by the mailbox or on the side of the road as we are hurriedly scurry off to our destination. (Remember, the joy of the journey is in the ride.) We don’t smell or feel the rain as it falls to nourish the land; too often we blame it for dampening our spirits. The way I see it, we have to put up with a few raindrops if we want to see a big rainbow.
Listen for the birds before you even get out of bed. Take in the sky as the world begins to wake up. I know you’ve heard it before, but stop and smell the flowers. Savor the scent of a freshly brewed cup of coffee or tea. Taste its silky warmth. See the steam rise gracefully from the surface of a smooth cup. Hear the quiet of the morning as you nourish your body and your soul.
Embrace your inner kid. Allow play to be a part of your day, and enjoy life. It’s a gift.