One very important precept in my view about play is that you don’t first have to be in the mood to play. This is where we as grown-ups meet our downfall. Kids will play anytime, because hey, they want to play anytime. As we mature and take on responsibilities and concerns, we feel that carefree attitude slip away. Playing is extra or superfluous or besides the point. We just don’t want to be playful.
“Not now, kids.”
“No, I can’t really go out tonight.”
“I’m too tired. Maybe another time.”
The truth is that once engaged, being playful actually offers us a boost. It gives us more energy than it takes away, if we let it. Like going to the gym. If we just get off our duff, we feel better for it.
A therapist once told me, when you are feeling anxious or uncomfortable in a situation that you have to get through, try smiling and acting like you are really confident. Fake it. Put on a public face, but then, more often than I may have wanted to admit, I discovered it works. I truly started to feel comfortable and self-confident, in certain situations. My first days as a classroom teacher definitely required this technique. I played the role of the young, perky teacher, hiding my self-doubt and introverted personality, and lo and behold, the kids loved me and the role took hold. I became an upbeat, vocal person.
So, it’s totally fair to start out faking it, pretending that you are playful if you have to. Push into the vibe and you’ll start feeling the groove. I dare you to listen to this song and not rock a bit!
“Happy” song, by Pharrell Williams, popularized in the movie Despicable Me 2