I have discovered (or rediscovered) the art of playfulness in the last decade, and it has helped me tremendously.
This morning is a good example of that.
My Mini Snow Adventure
Last night we got several inches of snow, and it is cold out this morning! In the past, I have loved looking at the snow, but I have also felt conflicted about going out in it.
On the one hand, I loved the idea of being outside in the snow. On the other hand, I tend to view people who go outside in the snow a lot as hearty, rugged individuals, and I have historically viewed myself as “not that”.
In addition, I think in the past I have pressured myself to go outside and do picture-perfect things like sledding or building snowmen–you know like all the people do in Christmas Hallmark movies. (Note: I watched a lot of Christmas Hallmark movies over Thanksgiving.) But sledding and snowman building don’t really excite me right now.
The Art of Playfulness
Here is where the art of playfulness is helpful. Playfulness is the attitude we adopt towards any activity when we enjoy it for its own sake (rather than for the sake of some specific outcome), and we engage in it with curiosity, joy, and a sense of adventure.
I rediscovered the art of playfulness after years of being a perfectionist, and it has brought so much relief and goodness into my life.
During all the years I was a perfectionist, I spent a lot of my life trying to be really good at everything so that I could prove to people that I was worthy. When I approached life with this attitude, here is how it affected me:
I didn’t like doing things I wasn’t good at.
I hated making mistakes.
I was often defensive because I always felt like I had something to prove or justify.
I avoided activities that l feared would make me look silly.
My life certainly wasn’t all bad during this time, but I did miss out on some cool activities and the personal growth I could have experienced if I just let myself do things without worrying about the outcome. I also stressed myself out constantly.
When I rediscovered the art of playfulness, here are some cool ways it changed me:
I began trying activities I was interested in, even if I wasn’t good at them.
I began viewing mistakes as no big deal and a natural part of the playful learning process.
Because I let myself make mistakes, I stopped feeling like I had to defend or justify myself all the time.
I prioritized curiosity, wonder, and adventure rather than trying to impress people.
As these habits of thinking and acting became a regular part of my life, I noticed myself relaxing; worrying less; noticing beautiful things around me more; letting go of failures and mistakes more quickly; and doing things I might not have done before.
Like my snow adventure this morning.
My Snowy Egress
This morning I both wanted to stay inside and be cozy, and I also wanted to go outside and play.
So, I decided that I would go outside, and I could stay outside for as long or as short of a time as I wanted. I also decided I could do whatever I wanted to do outside.
So I bundled up and went outside.
I walked to a little walking path near my house, and I jogged really, really slowly in the snowy grass by the path. it felt great.
I savored the cold air. Looked at some beautiful winter trees. Got my heart pumping. Experienced the beginning of winter.
And after about seven minutes, I was done.
My Cozy Ingress
And I decided I would come inside and blog to you about it. Not very impressive. But playful. I think I might go out later today, too.
I wanted to write this post to celebrate the snow, but I also wanted to write it to give you permission to play, whether you are nine, nineteen, or ninety (and every age in between).
We are never too old to play, and the more we practice the art of playfulness, the richer our life is. And it’s okay if you don’t think you are very good at playing. Just try something you are interested in doing, even if you aren’t good at it. Let yourself experience it for as long or as short a time as you want to, with no other goal than just trying it. Your life will be better for it.
Update: I went on a walk and jog late this afternoon. It was short, but really invigorating. I saw some children sledding down a hill, and it looked fabulous! Maybe I will take up sledding after all.
Stay tuned in the next month about more on the art of playfulness!
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