Incorporate play. If you feel that you have sucked out the fun of most of your life, incorporating play into some of your daily activities will bring back the fun.
When we grow into adults, we tend to forget how to creatively experiment and discover things. We see ourselves as our jobs, our personality traits are defined, and many are afraid to try new things. On the other hand, children don’t care about rules, they are curious and aren’t afraid to experiment with new things. If you feel like you might be becoming too much of a grown-up, defined by societal standards of what is expected and acceptable of an adult, you might want to explore your more childish, non-constrained drives.
I used to play 2-4h of violin per day some years ago. At first, it was very mechanistic. I would do my scales, practice my studies and then my pieces. I would get bored quickly, and solely discipline forced me through it all. Then, I remembered my jazz classes from childhood: the teacher chose a scale, the drummer chose the general rhythm, and each musician would go one after the other, improvising for an eternal minute. I was 12 when I first attended these classes and was terrified. Everyone else was in their twenties and they were all excellent musicians. Anyway, this was a lot of fun, and I forgot the freedom that it brought to my music. I decided to incorporate some “playtime” in my regular, classically-based violin practices. For about 20 minutes a day, I did not allow myself to look at music while I improvised away. At first, it felt very forced and I was extremely self-critical. Over time, these times transformed into creative sessions I was looking forward to: I developed my skills in my regular, classical practice time, and leveraged them in my creative time. Doing things the way they are supposed to be done is a safety net 99% of people stick with because they dislike discomfort. However, there is no growth without discomfort, and through my improvisation sessions, I grew my skills, creativity and confidence. For me. these sessions re-injected the fun in violin.
There are many ways to reinstate play into your activities. The goal is to bring a child’s mind to it: you want to be open, creative and daring. Mistakes don’t exist anymore in this special practice time, just opportunities to explore something new. Really, breaking the generally accepted rules of your activity of choice is the goal. In experimentation, rules go out the door. In play, there are no end goals in mind: the only goal is to creatively explore new things and break down previously held limitations.
Some examples that may sound silly but are sure to reinstate some fun in a sometimes boring activity:
- When cooking or cleaning, incorporate some dancing while listening to music.
- When parenting, don’t just be a grown-up, play alongside your kids.
- When running, run on the border of the sidewalk and try to run on all the most difficult surfaces you can encounter. You can also stop if you see a nice railing to balance on. Also, you can add some parkour if you can.
- When having serious conversations, pixie dust it with some humour.
When first starting to reinstate play as a grown-up, you may face a lot of resistance within yourself. Play is a skill that gets better with practice: set time aside for it daily and you will get better at it. Play transforms you into a better learner and innovator and makes everything more enjoyable.