One of the big revelations that has come to me in the last week has been that I seem to have lost the art of being playful.
I was shocked to realise that very rarely nowadays do I ever seek out opportunities to be playful.
When I thought about it I felt a little disappointed in myself.
When I was younger I certainly had no problem being playful. In fact there were times when you could probably say I overdid the playfulness thing a bit. But not anymore it would seem.
Do I think this is linked to being in my 50s?
Definitely, however it certainly commenced long before then when I started worrying about mortgages, investment properties, work, health, growing older and all the responsibilities that go hand in hand with being an “adult”.
For me this lack of playfulness probably commenced in my forties. So it has been going on for over ten years and until last week I didn’t really notice it was gone.
I want it back!
Now that I have noticed it I want to get it back as quickly as possible because this lack of playfulness has gone on for too long.
The big question I have however is, “Can I be an adult and still be playful or does one exclude the other?”
A little bit of research on good old Mr Google tells me that I don’t have to make a choice. I can be both.
Mr Google tells me that not only can I be a responsible adult as well as being playful, there is also some real benefit in finding my playfulness again.
Because Playfulness Reduces Stress!
Research shows that those of us who play more, handle stress more effectively than those that don’t play.
When you think about it this should really come as no surprise.
Of course if I am being playful I am going to be less stressed. If I am playing then I am most likely having a good time and taking my focus off whatever it was that was making me feel stressed in the first place.
Why then did I let myself lose my sense of playfulness as I got older, more adult and more stressed?
Remembering my playfulness days!
Being playful was something that used to come quite naturally to me in my twenties as I am sure it did to you.
Some of my most memorable playfulness times were when I was a teacher in a small country town in Queensland.
When there is a population of only 800 people and only one pub and a bowling club, you end up with a far bit of spare time on your hands that lends itself very well to being a little bit playful and at times maybe a little bit naughty.
One of our favourite night time activities was to swap around the letterboxes of different people who we knew didn’t really get on terribly well.
We used to do this around 11.00 pm at night when most people were safely tucked up in bed which meant we had less chance of getting caught.
Our strategy was to target properties just out of town where the house was quite a distance from the road and we could easily load the letterboxes into our car and liberate them to their new home.
There was the odd occasion however when we got particularly daring and decided to do a town run. Most of the time this worked out alright but I do remember one instant when we got chased down the hill by the catholic priest.
I can’t remember exactly what we were doing but am pretty sure it involved some form of liberation of his letterbox.
Whatever it was he was not happy and it certainly made facing him at school for religious instruction that week a little uncomfortable.
But not uncomfortable enough I might add, to stop the playfulness!
The infamous love poems saga!
Letterboxes were not our only thing however and one of my other favourite playfulness memories was the infamous love poems saga.
As I mentioned earlier we had a lot of spare time on our hands teaching in the country and in the 1980s the World Wide Web did not exist and there was no Facebook or email.
So two of my closest girlfriends and I decided to make good use of our spare time and our creative and poetic skills by composing anonymous love poems and sending them to the single men and women in town who were in need of a bit more romance in their lives.
One of these girlfriends lived on a property slightly out of town which we used to rendezvous in once a week on a Wednesday evening to compose love poems and then one of us would send them the next day from out of town so they couldn’t be traced back to any of us.
That really was playfulness at its best and if I remember correctly the mystery of the anonymous love poems and where they came from kept that little town and its occupants entertained and enthralled for well over twelve months until we decided to move onto something else.
While you might say some of this playfulness was a little bit naughty and silly, I can honestly say that during this time I do not ever remember life being particularly stressful.
The second big benefit that the researchers have discovered is that Playfulness Makes You More Attractive to the Opposite Sex!
Now even though I am a very happily married woman, who has a gorgeous other half, I can see this has got to be a plus and if you are not in a relationship then this has got to be a clear message to go out there and get more playful.
Looking back to my experience in my single days also tells me that this research is accurate, as I can’t say I ever had any trouble attracting attention from the opposite sex when I was younger and more playful.
Some of this no doubt was due to how I looked when I was younger but most of it in retrospect I am sure had to do with being playful and fun with guys instead of being serious and responsible.
The more playful I was the more attention I definitely got!
The “Veil of Invisibility”
Now I don’t know about you, but one of the things I have noticed over the last few years is that the attention I used to get from men has significantly reduced.
In fact you could say that except for those men who know me and love me I seem to have become slightly invisible to the opposite sex and have taken on a “Veil of Invisibility” without intending to.
Why is this so? I ask myself.
To date I have blamed the few extra kilos I have put on or the fact that my face is a little rounder and wiser or that I cannot wear heals anymore because they will make my feet ache and my bunions grow.
What I now know however is that it is not any of these things.
It is because I have become staid and far too serious about life and hence have lost the art of playfulness.
So in order to find this lost art as quickly as possible I decided to undertake My Playfulness Experiment.
The purpose of this experiment was to find playfulness things I could implement that would reduce my stress and remove the “Veil of Invisibility” that had mysteriously appeared around me over the past few years.
Getting my sexy back!
The first target for my experiment was my walk to work.
Every day I walked across the Brisbane River and into the city. What a great opportunity to start removing my “Veil of Invisibility”.
The first thing I had to do was change my style of walking.
The best way to describe how I had been walking to work is to describe my attitude while I walked which was basically, “Stay out of my space, I cannot see you, I am exercising and I don’t have time for you”.
What I needed to do was change the attitude, introduce confidence to my walk and get my sexy back.
Now when you are wearing a pair of walking shoes, carrying a back pack and a pink roses cold pack over your shoulder with your lunch in it, bringing sexy back can be a little bit challenging to pull off.
But with a lot of sass and the right intention I am pleased to say I did it, first go!
Not only did the man playing the guitar on the corner look at me like I was the most gorgeous thing he had ever seen but I could see slashes starting to appear in my “Veil of Invisibility” almost immediately.
The result was I walked into work full of confidence with a smile of my face that lasted me all day.
My day flowed really well and I was a picture of calmness.
So I gave myself a great big tick for the first part of my experiment.
Cheeky smiles work!
Part two of my experiment involved introducing eye contact and cheeky smiles into my lunch time walks around the block.
My intention was to connect with people I was passing, by looking them in the eye and in some instances throwing in a well timed cheeky smile.
Now while I hadn’t forgotten how to smile I had forgotten what effect a well timed cheeky smile combined with some eye contact can have.
I soon discovered that it doesn’t matter how old you are. Nothing has changed. Men still love and women still appreciate a little bit of eye contact and a cheeky little smile.
So my playfulness experiment was working. The more playful I was getting the better I felt and the more attention I got from the opposite sex.
The other unexpected bonus was how my playfulness was rubbing off on those around me. My playfulness was clearly adding a little bit of playfulness to their day.
The gorgeous young thing!
Part 3 of my playfulness experiment took place at my local coffee shop as I was getting my usual morning coffee before work.
It involved the gorgeous young thing with the deep blue eyes and Tom Cruise smile who makes me my coffee every morning.
Now usually I don’t get a chance to interact too much with the gorgeous young thing because he is busy making coffee and talking to all the other gorgeous young things he is working with.
On this particular morning however he was on his own. So I realised it was an ideal opportunity to put the next part of my playfulness experiment into action.
This would involve engaging him in some light and entertaining banter and sharing one or two of my cheeky little smiles with him. After all they had been working very well around town so far.
Together we chatted about what a lovely morning it was and how summer was on its way and I smiled as I watched him deliver my shot of coffee to my cup and top it up with my hot milk.
I was slightly disappointed when he asked me if I wanted one of the tiny square chocolate wafers that came with the coffee as it showed he hadn’t remembered that I never have the chocolate wafer as I am gluten free.
I decided to just let this small lapse of memory on his part slide however as it is an easy thing to forget and everyone makes mistakes some times.
I am excited to say that I was rewarded for my magnanimity a second later when as he handed me my coffee his eyes locked on to mine for a good five seconds. As I got lost in those pools of blue he generously gave me one of his Tom Cruise smiles and wished me a lovely day.
Success! My playfulness had worked and the “Veil of Invisibility” had been slashed to pieces.
As I sauntered off to work with what can only be described as a Julia Roberts smile beaming across my face I realised that since I had commenced my playfulness experiment not only had life had got a lot less stressful but it had also got a hell of a lot more fun.
Playing with my husband!
So while the first three parts of my experiment had been successful, I realised there was still a very important element missing.
That was my home life.
Having not long ago returned from a holiday in French Polynesia that included swimming with reef sharks and stingrays and playing “Who wants to be a millionaire?” together on the Air Polynesia flight on the way home, I had no doubt that when my husband and I go on holidays we have no problem being playful together.
How could we take this playfulness from our holidays into our everyday lives?
After giving it some thought I realised that the solution was quite simple.
Just be more playful and less serious with each other and our lives. Stop being so adult!!!
To my absolute surprise and delight my intentions manifested themselves virtually straight away with a completely impromptu Princess Bride sword fight in our lounge room using pool noodles.
We only stopped when I had to give in because all the laughing was making me pee my pants.
I therefore declare there will be more of the following in our lives:
- Dancing in the kitchen
- Singing in the car
- Laughing at silly movies
- Playing games together
- Watching ice truckers together in bed
My playful life begins!
So experiment over.
I have no doubt that being playful really does make you less stressed and more attractive to the opposite sex or same sex if that is more your scene.
But most importantly it makes life more fun.
I have found my lost art of playfulness and I am not going to lose it again.
My advice to all of you who have lost your art of playfulness is:
- Go out and find it!
- Reconnect with your past playfulness!
- Undertake your own playfulness experiment and see what works for you!
Would love you to share your playfulness tips in the comments section.