Do you remember being a kid and spending hours in the ocean never once feeling cold or thinking that you should get out of the water? Or maybe you roamed the fields and streams in your neighborhood only to realize that time had passed because it was getting dark?
When kids play, time doesn’t exist. They spend all afternoon building something with their friends and scream “Oh, no! We are having so much fun!” when you tell them it’s time for dinner.
For many adults this has changed. Instead of enjoying what we do and using curiosity to keep life fresh, we eagerly await the end of the day so we can go home and rest. We don’t like getting up in the morning, not because we did not get enough sleep, but simply because life isn’t that exciting anymore. If you have kids, you can experience how this shift happens first hand. My youngest daughter used to devour books. I remember one summer she read close to 50 books, one per day. Then she had to read books for school, write book reports, analyze book contents, and evaluate the author’s intentions. It took the unabashed joy of reading right out of her. She still gets lost in her books at times, but now it often comes from a sense of obligation. The freedom is gone.
If you find yourself wondering what happened to the joy and freedom in your own life, I have some good news: you can rekindle it. All it takes is curiosity and play.
For kids it’s easy. They are naturally inquisitive and playful. But so are we. Just because we have more responsibilities doesn’t mean we have to become serious and dull. Our games may have changed; instead of building sand castles on the beach we now build businesses; instead of talking to our girlfriends for hours we now talk to our clients; but the fun does not have to leave.
If you become interested in how life could be and don’t take everything for granted, if you add a sense of play to your daily activities, chances are you’ll start to have more fun again. Instead of dreading your sales quota, ask yourself, “What if I could reach those numbers? What would I have to do?” When you turn dread into curiosity everything you do gets more exciting. Not sure this will work? I highly recommend Richard Bransons’s book “Screw it, let’s do it.” He certainly keeps life fresh and has turned his business endeavors into exciting games.
1. Pay Attention: Start noticing how you make the fun disappear. Are you talking yourself out of it? “This is never going to work; my boss probably won’t like it, what if I fail?” Are other people ruining it for you by being overly protective, critical, etc.? Or are you just overall too tired to even start thinking about having a good time? Just notice what’s going on in your life right now and the impact it has on your aliveness.
2. Get Curious: Maybe things don’t have to be the way they are? What if you could have the adventures, the fun, and the life you wanted? What if it is possible to travel more, learn about new cultures, and start that business? What if and why not are two great questions to ask yourself when the fear creeps in – because it will, it’s just habit.
3. Break Up the Routine: Getting into a rut is the killer. If you do the same things over and over, day after day, life will become stale. What has worked for me in keeping life fresh is listening to my body and taking breaks when I need them. When I am writing and things slow down, new ideas won’t flow for example, I go rollerblading, make myself a nice cup of tea, read a chapter in a book, or I just walk the neighborhood for a while. Catch yourself before you get bogged down. Stop, even if you think you have to keep going.
As always, thanks for reading,