Life is fun until we start adulting. Then the only emotions we know are stress and anxiety. But actually it does NOT have to be this way.
If you’re anything like most adults, the carefree days are long gone. You can’t imagine a time without bills, responsibility, and worry.
How did this happen?
It happened because cultural paradigms are a fierce and powerful force in society.
A population is easier to control if they are busy and depressed. So whether it happened all at once or slowly over the years, at some point, you grew up.
Adulting means more duties, confinement, and stress. You rush from one task to the next, forgetting to smell the roses.
Most of us have grown up seeing the world as a place of limitation rather than a place of inexhaustible treasures.
– Bob Burg and John David Mann, The Go Giver
Can you take back your sense of wonder? Does adulting have to be synonymous with bad?
In this article, we’ll discuss three ways to reclaim your childlike enthusiasm for life:
- Shake Up Your Routine
- Think Big
Adulting can be Fun
Once we reach a certain age, playtime ends rather abruptly.
We stop playing in the street, creating imaginary worlds, and acting silly. Instead of creating new realities, we complain about the one we are currently in.
In the book Essentialism, Greg McKeown explains that adults should play more. Playing improves brain plasticity and when your brain becomes more plastic, you adapt to new situations and grow more quickly.
Life becomes a lot more fun!
Playing also connects you with others. So many of us spend hours alone without interacting with other humans. A great way to strengthen relationships (any relationship) is to play a game.
What? You forgot how?
After graduating from law school, I lost the element of play in my life. Everything I did suddenly had to be productive in some way.
If an activity didn’t directly help me accomplish my goals, I rejected it.
For example, one Christmas while still wearing my Life is Very Serious hat, I was gifted a ukulele. It was such a random gift that I wasn’t sure what to do with it. How was this going to help me achieve my life goals?
It sat in my living room for months until one night I was sitting on my couch waiting to go to bed so I could go to work again, I picked it up and started playing. I couldn’t play it at all but the sound was nice and I laughed at myself for trying.
That night is such a vivid memory because I rarely sat by myself and laughed.
It was a reminder to play more. Once I started to play more in my life, and not just the ukulele, I noticed that my shoulders relaxed. I breathed a little deeper.
It’s okay to do something just for the sake of fun. Life is too short to be serious all the time.
Now, I find myself laughing out of control when I find something funny.
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Adulting Does Not Mean Boring Routine
Many people crave predictable and monotonous routines. They experience anxiety when their day, week or life is not mapped out in advance.
And routines are great. They increase efficiency and help us accomplish goals.
In Better With Age, Alan Castel explains: A strong preference and need for routines can make older adults more vulnerable to anxiety, depression levels, and cognitive complaints.
In other words, what if the routines we cling to just masks for our fears?
No matter how organized your routine is, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.
To reclaim your childlike soul, I recommend mixing up your day.
If you always go to the same restaurant, try somewhere new! Still having Friday night beers with the same crew? Go out and meet new people! Why go to the gym (again) when you could try out a boxing class or join a softball team?
And take it from someone who knows.
For two years straight, I never did anything fun on weeknights. Since I had work the next morning and needed to be responsible, I said no to friends and always went to sleep at a reasonable time.
I was afraid of what might happen if I were irresponsible.
Then, at some point, I went out for drinks on a Wednesday. Do you know what happened? Nothing. And I had fun. It turns out breaking up a routine doesn’t kill you.
Even small breaks from routine can work.
Try eating with your non-dominant hand. Why not brush your teeth while standing on one leg? Acting a little silly and doing things a bit differently can be great for your mental health.
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What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?
Perhaps the saddest part of growing up is when people stop dreaming.
I don’t mean dreaming in our sleep, but dreaming about life!
Not everyone can be an astronaut or famous football quarterback, but you still have to dream up a life you want and go for it.
One of the best ways to reclaim your soul is to make a list of “big” goals.
While following your passion can be scary, it can also be very fulfilling. It can bring out the creativity you may have lost.
I’m not sure when I decided I was going to be a lawyer, but one thing I know is I was never passionate about it. During law school, I was motivated to get good grades, but that was out of obligation, not a love for the law.
In other words, I’m a “play it safe” kind of guy. Or rather I used to be. The day I learned I had a degenerative eye disease, I decided I needed a change.
I was sick of always being responsible.
Security over Passion.
Consistency over Inspiration.
Certainty over Love.
When you reclaim align with you soul, you see the world with new eyes.
Everything is possible. If you have dreams, you suddenly just go for them. The worst thing that could happen is that you fail. And if you fail, just like when a baby learning to walk falls over, you do what the baby does and simply get up and try again.
If you learn from your mistakes, you’re always growing. If you stay committed to your goal, you’ll get there eventually.
As Henry Ford said, whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.
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When you grow up, you learn about responsibility, duty, and hard work.
These concepts aren’t problems. The problem is when adulthood becomes synonymous with mindless repetition and meaningless work.
Letting loose and having fun reminds you of the silly and wanderlust child that lives inside you. When you mix up your routine and try something new, you stimulate your brain and live a more exciting life. If you start to think big, you can pursue the goals you’ve been secretly eyeing your entire life.
The resurrection is to be like a child — to be wild and free, but with a difference. The difference is that we have freedom with wisdom instead of innocence.
– Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
When you start to reclaim your childlike soul, you get the best of both worlds. You can have the inspiration and magic of a child yet have the drive and discipline to accomplish your dreams.