Worry less & play more

Posted on August 5, 2012

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Sometimes I find myself sitting in my favourite coffee shops in the midst of Media City and I look around and see too much seriousness and too few smiles …

I wonder why? 

Is it because in our grown up lives we constantly have things to worry about?  Worry about securing that promotion, paying off that credit card, buying that car, pleasing that boss or placating that partner?

And I think back to the days when we had not a thing to worry about.

Remember them?

Perhaps not but that time did exist! 

Once upon time, we didn’t worry about what people thought of us, our weight, our reputation, our clothes or our faults. In fact, we didn’t even know we had faults. That was something we had to learn.

Back then we made great friends because they happened to be playing in the same playground, living next door or sitting in the same classroom; not because they met certain criteria, be they religious, social, cultural, physical or financial. We didn’t evaluate them … we just appreciated them. We didn’t care about ticking boxes but we did like playing in them.

These were the days when happiness was our default setting, our natural state. Smiling, laughing and playing, all day long, were completely instinctive.

And then something happened.

Unhealthy Lessons

At some stage, we started learning about concepts like approval and rejection. We learned about winning and losing, smart and stupid, success and failure, pretty and ugly. We learned that our face could open doors. Or close them. We learned that our singing and dancing would be judged. Until then, we didn’t know that our paintings could be good or bad. It had never occurred to us and we simply didn’t think in those terms. We painted because we loved to paint. There was joy in what we did. We didn’t compare our masterpiece with anyone else’s art. In fact, we didn’t know what a comparison was.

We had to learn that too.

Somewhere along the way, we developed another new skill to compliment comparison. Worrying. We learned to worry about how we looked, what we wore, our hair, our figures, what people thought … we learned that we needed the approval of others. We came to realise that our singing, dancing and painting might actually be terrible. Over night, the instinctive, the innocent and the joyful were replaced with the calculated, the insecure and the anxious.

When we were four …

When we were four all our paintings were awesome. When we were four, we would sing and dance for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Why? Because it made us happy … it was fun and that’s all that mattered. There was no cerebral element to it.  It didn’t dawn on us whether we might be good or bad, right or wrong, talented or not, impressive or embarrassing. No, it was a purely emotional and physical experience. The unconscious expression of being a child or perhaps just the unconscious expression of a person without emotional baggage or ego …

At some stage, we learned that PLAY is only for kids. That it can’t be a forever thing. What an unhealthy lesson to learn. Somewhere along the way our fun games became not-so-much-fun competitions.

We learned that we shouldn’t spontaneously hug people or tell them we love them … even if we do. Apparently, there’s a time and place for everything. Instead of collecting stickers and bugs, we began to collect issues, fears and insecurities. We learned to be more strategic and less intuitive, more cerebral and less emotional. We learned to worry more and play less. We were so busy learning these unhealthy habits that we forgot to laugh.

Did you know the average child laughs about four hundred times per day yet the average adult only fifteen?

Pity.

But then again, it’s never too late to return to default and start putting proper PLAY back into your life. And it’s never too late to incorporate more laughter and less worry into your day.

Try it this week … and I guarantee that you’ll have the last laugh!

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