I have deemed 2019 the year of my “second childhood”. I want it to be a year filled with as much childlike freedom & imagination & fun & play & believing anything is possible, as I can fit into a year.
But at the same time, I also have deemed it the year I stop crapping around & start acting like an adult. I want to stop using the “my parents will pick up my slack” line as a convenient excuse to be, at times, a broke slob.
How can these two things co-exist when they seem to be moral opposites?
Because each exists on its own spectrum. Yes. I believe that you can be chillin’ & paying down your credit card debt while playfully imagining colorful owls swinging on a swing set. Why?
Because the adult never had to come at the exclusion of the childlike.
It’s a cultural myth. Coming from a viewpoint, no less, that somehow thinks that being stodgy, stressed out, about to have a breakdown, unhealthy, & unhappy is more respectable & “responsible” than someone who lives whimsically, eccentrically, playfully.
O12 / Pixabay
And this makes absolutely no sense. It’s not an “either/or” proposition. It’s BOTH.
As I stated in “Weekend (In the Breeze)”, a song off a recent album of mine:
“It was illusion, the way they told me being grown-up had to hurt,They told me happiness was all a scam,All around me I saw adults falling, into the depths of the rat raceThey’d created, thought it was the way it had to beBut they were just trying to sell escapes to you & they were jealous of your dreams”
And recently, I’ve really been learning a lot about & finally IMPLEMENTING a lot of gamification in my life. Mostly thanks to reading “Level Up Your Life” by NerdFitness creator Steve Kamb & beginning to use the awesome Habitica app.
Google defines gamification as:
the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.
In other words, it’s about using fun, playful strategies to make things that might be boring or just not as fun as they could be into a form of play.
Which is why gamification is the primary tool I’m going to use in 2019 to achieve both my themes of “second childhood” & “greater self-responsibility”.
Here are a few specific things I’ll be doing to combine the themes using gamification that you can use too:
- Giving cool, fun names to tasks that aren’t necessarily inherently fun. Instead of “clean your pet cages”, the task can be called & thought of as “caring for your precious zoo animals”. Instead of shopping, you’re Indiana Jones hunting for a treasured artifact or a hero gathering survival supplies or a pirate digging for buried gold.
- Treating everything like a quest. Pretend everything is a quest or a step necessary to achieve a quest, or pretend you’re an awesome character as you’re going about your daily tasks (either a character from fiction, history, or your own creation).
- Breaking things down into smaller, more manageable steps. Instead of trying to clean your bathroom all at the same time, try cleaning just one different part of it every day. Sundays, you might just clean the mirror. Mondays, you might mop. Tuesdays, you might wipe down the counter. Etc. This makes tasks seem less overwhelming & therefore, more likely to get done.
- Making sure playfulness is a prominent part of daily life. Use your imagination more to tell stories about what you’re doing & who you are, just like when you were a kid. Take time each day to actually do something playful, whether you actually play or experiment or explore objects/places or even just a fun game on your phone. And if you’re too busy any given day to do that, at the very least you can approach problems & situations with a playful mindset.
- Let yourself feel free. Try to see the world again through responsible, but childlike, eyes. Is it really the end of the world if you don’t tackle the WHOLE pile of dishes on the counter? Try to spend less time stressing out about all the things you think you’re not doing well enough at & take more time to just be. Flow through the day. Take your time. Give yourself some space to breathe. Take breaks. Let yourself change course or activities as the mood strikes you. My epic Florida road trip was very playful, but as I was the only one caring for myself, I also was entirely self-reliant.
- Start being accountable for the results of your life. I was googling the idea of self-reliance when I came across this awesome quote from The Art of Manliness’ article, “Developing a Self-Reliant Mindset“. “[…] while it’s easy to get by by having other people do everything for you, ‘the trouble is, when you’re not self-reliant, you’ll never do more than just get by’.” I think that quote is one of the most important things I’ve ever heard. The truth is that nobody cares as much about your world or your environment or your dreams as you do, so if you’re always blaming others for how things turn out or when you don’t get what you want or always putting the responsibility on them to make things happen for you, you’re always going to be let down. Start accepting responsibility. Why? When you hand responsibility off to someone else, you’re in a sort of disempowered “victim” mindset. But when you take responsibility & look at your life & can healthily say, “Yes, it’s my fault that this didn’t turn out right.” You’re acknowledging yourself as source of the problem. But when you’re the problem, you’re also empowering yourself to be the SOLUTION. If it’s your problem, you can also fix it.
Playfulness & self-reliance are compatible, & if you want to be a next-level person, both are essential.
How are you going to mix playfulness & self-reliance this year?