,,“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

– George Bernard Shaw

What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?

I loved that question as much as I did when I was five, as I do today! 

My answer is somewhat different, as back then I wanted to be “The Flying Nun!” Headdress and all!  I loved that show and I honestly believed I could do it! Fly, that is- not the nun part.

Today, I’m a little more grounded.

My friends that are reading this, are no-doubt, rolling around on the floor in uncontrollable gut-gripping laughter thinking how ungrounded I am at times. They obviously did not know me at five, so they cannot see the subtle shift.

There is something absolutely playful about imagining yourself being and growing into something spectacular.

As children we never doubted it

until someone told us differently.  I suppose there is a lot of substantial evidence, if you look for it, that life gets harder as you grow up.

I’m wondering, if maybe, we have practiced that thinking so long that it’s become our belief.  Our reality. 

In the words of Peter Pan, “to live would be an awfully big adventure.”  And to live, is to grow.

What if we could live and grow from a more playful perspective?

To play, according to Merriam-Webster, is the state of being active, operative, and effective and to engage with enjoyment.   

So, can I ask you honestly are you enjoying new growth, new adventures, new learning- in both your personal and professional life right now? 

If there is some resistance that’s making it feel like a struggle or just plain hard?

Maybe these simple suggestions can help you pivot to a more playful mindset that can make learning and growing more enjoyable.

Ways to Infuse Play into Your Growth:

1. Focusing more on the fact that you are the unique “only version of you,” and less on trying to copy and measure yourself next to others who are just as unique. 

This  can make you instantly more playful and fun! 

WHY, OH WHY, ARE WE SO HARD ON OURSELVES.  Do you genuinely want to know how you can speed the GROW?  Stop stopping the FLOW with self-doubt, self-criticism and self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors. 

Play with these suggestions instead.

  • Acknowledge your “Brilliance,” meaning what is it that you do all the time that is effortless and easy but look likes work to others?  Do you find it easy to talk to people? Are you great at staying calm while others are out of control? Can you see a solution quickly? This is your “brilliance.”  Ask several friends the question, “What am I brilliant at?” Then compare the two list.  We grow when we know and to know is to know ourselves first!
  • There is a line in the book, Rebirth, that says, “If I truly loved myself, what would I do?” Great question!  Try it.  If you loved yourself what would you do?  Ask it often throughout your day.  You will be surprised how much stress and struggling will fall away once you feel like you are meeting your needs first, or at least validating that you actually have needs  and that you are capable of loving yourself.

2. Rethink something differently.  This exercise can kick the right brain into high gear and is bound to give you some expanded ideas toward innovative solutions that could have daunted you in the past.

Remember trying to figure out the Rubik’s cube? It is like that- but with ideas, beliefs and opinions that do not have to line up perfectly. 

Take a belief that you hold, now just for a moment take an opposing stand on it. Turn it this way and that way.  It could a different religion, different political view, a different work strategy? 

You can always come back to your old thoughts and there is nothing wrong with that.  It is just amazing when we seek to understand anything a little differently, how that can impact our personal growth in little subtle shifts.

3. Schedule fun. We compartmentalize fun like it is a once-in-a-while thing.

A mental vacation only deserving after we’ve grinded out so much work, etc.

Fun is brain fuel.  Growth compost. 

Fun is anything that makes you happy! Cleaning and organizing the garage to some people is fun.  Laying in a lawn chair and reading a book or getting a card game going with your best buds could be fun to others.

Fun can become a daily practice.

  • Asking out a co-worker for lunch.
  • Writing a thank you card to a co-worker
  • Bringing in donuts

They can all lift our spirits and give us that high-vibrational “fun” feeling.

Closing Thoughts:

You are learning and growing all the time.  It is a perpetual part of life that can seem less playful and enjoyable than it was when we were kids just bouncing around in capes wanting to be superheroes or nuns that could fly.

Unbridling ourselves from the thought that learning and growth should be hard takes practice.

There really is something wonderful and freeing about allowing growth and lessons to unfold into new adventures giving way to new experiences.

Each time we let go of old beliefs we open ourselves up to new ways of thinking and just like the Rubik’s cube, if we let it, an opportunity to expand into more of our unique selves is offered up. 

Staying playful and loving first to ourselves makes growth fun! 

It’s as simple as that!

Rethinking old beliefs can jump-start novel solutions flowing our way.  Learning to put things that make us happy on our “ to-do” list every day can fuel the brain with creative solutions at a much easier, effortless tempo, and what doesn’t sound fun about that?

Life was meant to be enjoyed!

Written by BJ Davis – Director of Programs at BJD Leadership Training and Team Development. You can contact her directly at bjdavis@highperformanceplay.com or by visiting the website www.highperformanceplay.com