Do you remember being a kid and the excitement you felt right before entering the playground? There were so many options! The sandbox, the sprinklers, the tire swing. You could do anything your little heart desired. There was a feeling of adventure and fun. Whom would you become friends with on the playground? What cool rock would you discover while digging in the dirt?

As adults, it can be hard to remember the last time we just played. No purpose, no goal, just play. Wouldn’t you love to bring that feeling back? Wouldn’t you love to spend an afternoon in carefree exploration and fun?

Well, you can! And the good news is a little play will significantly help other areas of your life. It is has been proven that children learn best through play. In an open and free environment, they are able to explore and connect with their surroundings, offering valuable information about the world around them. The same holds true for adults. We are at our best when in low-pressure environments discovering and connecting with our surroundings. Adult play is so important to a well-balanced life. You may be thinking, I have such a busy life! Who has time to waste just playing around? No worries! It’s all about baby steps. There are so many opportunities for play in our adult lives. It’s the inquisitive, playful energy that constitutes the practice, not the act itself.  Here are a few ways to incorporate pure play into your everyday life:

1. Learn from the pros (play with children).

If you’re a parent you have an in-house guru on how to engage in authentic play. Watch your child as they fidget with blocks or toy cars. Pay close attention to their behaviors and range of emotions during play. Then join in. Enjoy the activity with your child as if it were your first time. Do not speak or try to create a game. Just fiddle and listen to the thoughts that come forward within your mind. If you do not have children, borrow someone else’s! Children are always willing participants in a round of good fun.

2. Do something you’ve never done before.

There is no better way to connect with your playful spirit than trying something new! Recently, I came across a stack of hula-hoops in a store. I promptly picked one up and attempted to hula around the store. I laughed and laughed as my body wriggled in odd directions trying to keep the hoop up for more than two spins. It was so much fun that I decided to buy the hula-hoop. In the evening, I would whip out the hoop that reminded me of my childhood and wriggle away.  Eventually, I learned to hula-hoop! What a feeling of satisfaction and elation the first time I could hold it up! All the laughs and giggles led to a feeling of accomplishment and the beginning of a two-pack of abs!  Who knew play could have so many benefits! Find something that intrigues you, and give it a whirl—it’s a win/win situation!

3. Adopt a playful spirit in your everyday life.

As adults, life can seem so serious. Go to work, do the laundry, grocery shop, clean the house, etc. All seemingly mundane chores that must be done if we are to be a “responsible adult.” But what if we could play through these chores? Look for humorous situations at work that encourage a lighthearted feeling within you. Build a castle in your grocery cart with your food items. Play your favorite music and dance with the broom as you sweep!  Find ways of connecting with the ever-present playful spirit within you.

Once you give your playful spirit a voice and an outlet more often, the way in which you see the world will change. You will have more patience for “bumps” in the road of life. You will have more appreciation for the environment you are surrounded by and most importantly, will be keeping the balance between your grown-up life and your child at heart.

I know I’m not the only one playing my way through life. Please share your favorite activities at play and ways you’ve learned to connect with your inner child at heart!