I’m still lingering on on my ~bi-weekly newsletter rhythm that the summer of 2020 demanded. Does anyone miss the weekly delivery?
Autumn has crept onto the horizon and I’m getting back into bike rides/races, pursuing business opportunities and, even my next transatlantic to & fro travel in the era of Corona to get my kids back in Amsterdam for an extended stay right before the USA’s already eerily ominous election unfolds. It’s all a bit of a 2020 cliché how so many things seems to be finally clicking yet skipping all at once. We all just want to get back on track.
And we’re all just over 2020 in so many ways. But maybe because we forgot to play? Maybe neglecting the fun parts of life has worn us out? Hear me out. ; )
I’ve been accused more than a handful of times of not growing up. I maintain, that keeping my inner kid alive and well has not only served me, but also those around me, quite well. I just like to play. I like to play with my kids and their friends, I like to play bikes, to make (dad) jokes and just generally goof around. It’s fun!
So, a recent NYT article (that I link to below) gave me some fodder to share on how you, too, can get back to the basics of including play in your day.
Check out some highlights:
1. Make friends with your inner critic
Our inner critic is a survival mechanism that buffers ourselves from failure. Failing feels bad, so our inner critic discourages us from doing things that feel silly, uncomfortable or risky. As Kristen Neff, a self-compassion researcher, has said: “Don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up. We need to learn to make friends with our inner critic.” The exercise is a good first step because it reveals how harsh we can be to ourselves without realizing it, which keeps us from embracing the more playful, creative parts of ourselves.
Borrow your memories
“When you were a child, what were your favorite ways to play?” Ms. Sinclair said. “And when was the last time you had these same types of feelings as an adult? What current activities bring you close to that same unabashed feeling you had as a youngster?”
Do something without sharing it
“Social media makes it easy to buy into this notion that if you don’t post it, did it really happen? Was it important?” Ms. Sinclair said. “Sharing makes it valid.” In other words, social media can inspire people to do things for the purpose of sharing, as the platforms themselves encourage external validation. Since play is supposed to be intrinsically motivated, you might have more fun keeping it to yourself.
Know your play type
People play in different ways — karaoke sounds like a blast to one person and a nightmare to another. A study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences identified four categories of playful personality traits: other-directed, lighthearted, intellectual and whimsical.
Find micro-moments of play
Being present doesn’t come easy for most of us, but play forces you to focus on the present so you can take a break from ruminating. “We’re all dealing with something right now, and you need to be able to fully feel your fear and sadness and anger and let it out,” he said.
I subscribe to the article’s premise that play compels you, at least for a moment, to not be sucked into the the zero sum philosophy of either being happy or sad. I liked the article’s notion that one can feel both playful in the moment and still stressed about the state of the world. So, the point isn’t to ignore your negative feelings but rather to aspire for joy alongside the negativity.
“Think about how kids are excited all the time, that’s basically what we’re all trying to get back to" – Jeff Harry
In other words, and in my parlance: it is about finding the stoke!
Thank you for reading, I hope this helped you like it did me and I wish you a great week ahead,
Please do share this newsletter with your friends & colleagues: