This article is based on our podcast episode, Make Magic: Using Play to Find the Answers. Listen to the full episode here.
When you think of the word play, what memories arise in your system? Does it feel foreign? Can you remember the last time you played?
Often, as an adult, play is associated with children and child-like activities. We may think of adults that play or create for a living as irresponsible or not serious.
And I'm here to shake things up and bring in a counter perspective. What if investing more time in playing brought you closer to your goals than working harder?
Connecting Through Tech: Is It Enough?
It’s sad that so many of us have lost the ability to play. Adult play is generally associated with video games, television, and sometimes substances, mainly alcohol. When we play with children, we re-learn how to tap into our imagination and creativity. We lose our serious, work-infused mindset.
With society’s technological evolution, we have more access to information, but we have less downtime because our lives are more filled with potential stimulus. It is rare to find someone without some sort of profile, or online presence. Where there used to be gaps and pauses in our lives, there is stimulus, always another opportunity to connect to something via our devices. It challenges our ability to stay present and even recognize that we are breathing. Overtime, not bringing presence to our lives leaves us feeling depleted and exhausted.
Although technology allows us to virtually connect, there's somehow a lingering feeling of disconnect in the background of our existence. It seems the more that we reach outward to fill this craving, the more we aren't grounded into our present experience. Being in the present moment can allow for spaciousness to arise, and although this can feel strange, or even scary to some, spaciousness allows for creativity and play to show up and be present in our lives.
What Brings You Joy?
What are you doing in your life that really invites joy?
Often, my clients are trying to work through emotional difficulties and make big life decisions. They feel immense pressure to work hard and perfect their lives, which can end up causing them pain and struggle, both of which typically partner with harsh self-judgment. It can be hard to let go of control.
When we have a belief that we must work really hard to change something in our lives, we manifest just that - we end up having to work really hard for things to get better. It can be difficult to see, when you are trying hard to shift something in your life, how connecting with the things that bring you joy will help you do this faster. The frequency of joy brings ease, appreciation, and grace into your life. If you focus only on controlling the situation, and struggle to trust that joy might be a better option, you might try asking yourself, "Why am I not allowed to be joyful as I work towards my goals?"
For some that ask this question, they might realize a sense of guilt, fear, or shame blocks the way to experiencing joy. And if you think about it honestly, did being mean to yourself ever truly bring a sense of self-trust and self-love to your life long-term?
One of the best ways to connect with yourself, and to make lasting changes in your life, is to figure out what you’re doing right now that brings you joy.
Joy and play are important because they welcome creativity, and creativity has the potential to change our thinking, vision, and perspective. Creativity reminds us of the joy in our existence is not dependent on working - it is living authentically with reverence.
Create A “Joy” List
There can be a lot of internal judgement about playing, or evening allowing ourselves to participate in activities that bring a deeper sense of joy and fulfillment. This judgement, usually linked to an internal voice that governs our thinking, can hold a lot of old programming intertwined with resistance to change and progress. If you experience this, read more about this inner voice in my article, Affirmations: Can They Change Your Brain?
If you're struggling with a decision and find yourself stressing out and trying to work hard to figure it out, give this strategy a shot: Put the decision out of your mind for a bit. Imagine screwing off the top of a mason jar, dumping it inside, and putting it on a nearby shelf in your mind. And then, pull out a notebook and pen, put a timer on for ten minutes, and write a list of all the things that bring you joy.
It could be the sound of horse hooves on cobblestone, driving in your car to a certain place, or walking next to a lake. Maybe you really like circles or triangles. Do you get inspired by certain people, your kids, or animals? What games do you love to play? Really tap into your senses and call out memories of what has and still brings you joy.
Writing the list may feel inauthentic at first, but I encourage you to keep going. Typically, as we grow into adulthood, we get stuck on being afraid to make mistakes. We believe we must be perfect and get it right.
Tapping into joy allows for more space and freedom, and this is the place where our creativity can come alive (if we let it). Often, when we contact joy, it aligns with doing or experiencing things that bring a sense of play, which will help you move out of the feeling of being confined or stuck faster.
Have An Open Mind With Your List
Allow yourself to put aside what “should” bring you joy and free flow. This is where true ideas open.
Your first thought is the best thought, and it doesn't have to be perfect.
You might want to write the list but aren't sure what brings you joy. If this happens, start writing down what doesn't bring you joy. Do you hate cleaning the sink or taking out the garbage? What about the way your car squeaks when it goes around a corner? Do you dislike what you must wear to work or the lack of time you have for a hobby?
When you write things that you don't like, oftentimes you can figure out what you need more of in your life. When we write the opposite of what brings us joy, we can flip it, and get clear on what we need to resurrect to bring us back into balance.
Pick Your Joy
After you’ve made as long of a list as you can think of, pick your top five or ten things you enjoy or that bring you a sense of play. Put a star next to the ones that are in your daily week.
Consider, do you get to do this daily or weekly? If you do, does it feel like enough? If it doesn't, how can you bring more of that into your life? And ask yourself these questions: What if I let myself experience this more? What gets in the way of giving myself this permission to play and do more things that I enjoy? Sometimes we cannot change our responsibilities, but as our responsibilities rise, contacting the heart of play, can help us contact our true joy. And this can open us up to deeper understanding, new perspectives, and even sometimes, the answers that we seek. Think of it this way: Letting yourself play allows you to contact a part of yourself that isn't stuck in control. We can only control the effort, not the outcome.
Connect With Yourself
When you connect more deeply with yourself, answers will come faster, because you're not in a judgmental space surrounded by control.
Give yourself permission to connect with the creative energy inside of your body.
If you do the same thing every day, you might feel safe and stable, but not happy. Allowing yourself to move into a space that embraces play and creativity will help you connect more deeply to yourself, and to others around you.
When you feel submerged by all the life questions you're constantly trying to figure out, you can block out the answer by becoming too rigid and serious. When we are hyper-focused on finding an answer and find ourselves spiraling in it, we must pull ourselves out of this sense of stuck-ness in order to see that there are other perspectives. If you are looking at something too closely under a microscope, it is impossible to focus and truly understand what you are looking at. Play allows us to zoom out and experience a new perspective.
I'm a big believer that our highest selves, the wise part that nurtures our growth, is most powerful when we contact joy. Our wise mind is flowing, radiant energy that can support us without over-controlling a situation or being mean to ourselves.
When we're connected with ourselves and our joy through play, we are so much more likely to feel self-trust and to gain more understanding and a wiser perspective on our big life questions and endeavors. Creativity, and understanding what activities bring you joy, is one of the many ways to access this wise part.
Even though play can feel difficult to engage in as an adult, it will ultimately allow you to shift your perspective, let go of control, and see the problem at hand with fresh and aware eyes. When you use play to shift your energy, and to tap into your joy, you will have a deeper awareness of what you need, what you don't need, and how to move forward in brand new ways.
I encourage you to look for opportunities to learn and play as you connect with yourself and others. Sometimes the answer comes through when you have more freedom in yourself, and play is a way to do it.
Still stuck? I can help you awaken your inner magic that will lead you to your unique sense of play through psychic readings or one-on-one Spiritual Wellness Coaching.