“When did I learn to take myself so seriously?”
Sometimes, I just want to scream when I realize how wrapped up I can get in the “importance” of my day-to-day. This is an urgent reminder that I am in “serious” need of some laughter and good old fashioned play time.
In these times, I turn to my inner child for help. We’ve all got one. It’s that part of us that would always rather play! Although it may not always be appropriate, periodic quality time spent with our inner child enhances our entire quality of life.
They remind us how to be free, spontaneous, imaginative and most importantly, they help us to reconnect with our personal truths.
Here are some fun ways to get in touch with your inner child and help make them a part of your life:
1. Express yourself.
Take out a piece of blank paper and draw. Draw whatever comes to mind. You don’t have to show anyone, so go wild. You may be surprised to find yourself proudly sticking it up on the fridge when you are done.
Can’t get started? Get your hands on a coloring book, stat! (Bonus points for using crayons.)
2. Play! Play! Play!
If you are lucky enough to have sentimental parents, you may have an attic or basement filled with your old toys. Not a chance? No problem. Hit a local second hand store in your area and look for old toys you used to play with. Bring them home and play!
Feeling weird about it? That’s alright. Ask one of your kids to play with you.
Don’t have any kids? Borrow one or two from a friend or family member. The kids will be overjoyed that you are an adult who wants to play with them, the parents will love that you are giving them an afternoon or evening off from child rearing and you will have a great time learning how to live in the moment.
3. Watch old children’s shows that you used to watch, as a kid.
Those memories will come flooding back and you’ll be feeling lighthearted in no time. Anything at all will do, but just so you are aware, classic Sesame Street episodes are now available on Netflix. You’ll be surprised how many songs, characters and lessons you remember.
4. Reread an old favorite book.
Shel Silverstein has an impressive collection of poetry and stories filled with characters and scenarios I can only dream of. If you have a hard time remembering what exactly you used to read, go to a local bookstore or library and head to the children’s section to trigger your memory. Read a little bit each night before bed and wake up the wonder of your own imagination.
As a kid, I can remember belting out songs at the top of my lungs. I didn’t care who heard me and I didn’t care if I was any good. One of my favorite activities to do when I find myself taking myself too seriously is to sing as badly as I can. Turn up the volume of something that makes you smile and sing…horribly! It’s important to do this as horribly as you can so you don’t get caught up in sounding good. Try off key harmonizing. You’ll be laughing in no time.
Find something that makes you laugh and do it! Kids are so good at laughing. They seem to always be on the hunt for things that provoke laughter. I find stand up comedy to be the best way to provoke this in myself, but there are many, many ways. It’s impossible to think about anything serious or stressful when you are crying and gagging with laughter.
Think of your favorite sport or activity when you were young. Were you a dancer, a basketball player, a gymnast? Are you still doing it? Well, there is no better time than now to experience the joy all over again. There are tons of adult and community classes and groups that cater to virtually anything you can imagine.
If you can’t find any, start your own. Not only will you be able to indulge in a childhood passion, but you’ll make new friends—yet another strength that children possess.
Speaking of new friends, I find one of the easiest ways to connect and I mean, really connect with people is to ask them about their childhood. Not in a Freudian-how-did-you-feel-about-your-mother-or-father?-way, but a What-were-you-like-as-a-kid?-way.
There are so many ways and reasons to engage your inner child. Cultivating who and how we were as children helps us let down our adult guard and just have fun. Set up a play-date for yourself and breathe in the freedom.
Here’s a little motivation:
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Ed: B. Bemel
Photo: Steven Snodgrass
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