It might be too hard, asking too much. Telling your self to be playful might be like telling your self to be happy. Granted, it’d be great if you were happy. Or even just more playful. But if you don’t think you’re either, telling your self to be happy or playful isn’t going to make it happen. In fact, it’s likely to make you depressed, frustrated, [and] angry at your self for being someone you just don’t want to be.
That’s what worries me about this whole idea of telling your self to be playful when you think you’re not. I mean, who’s telling whom? Is the self that’s telling you to change such an expert in playfulness that it can change you? I don’t think so. I think that particular self is anything but playful. That’s the very self that gets so serious, so humorless, [and] so disparaging. And the self it’s talking to is probably the one that feels bad about itself, feels that there’s something wrong with it, something that needs to be, heaven forfend, changed.
It’s a good idea to be more playful. Just like it’s a good idea to be happier. But to get there, you need to stop telling your self to be different.
Try this, instead. Try letting your self tell you. Ask it to let you know when it’s feeling happy or playful. In fact, I’d suggest an even simpler question. Ask it to tell you when it’s having fun.
Fun, like I say somewhere later on, is easy. Playful, happy, maybe not so much. But fun? You can have fun watching television. OK, maybe not like deep fun. But fun, nevertheless. You can have fun reading, browsing, searching for something on the computer. You can have fun eating. Chewing gum. Knitting. Taking a walk. Tasting. Feeling. Smelling. Listening. Touching. You can have fun watching someone else have fun.
After a while, after you’ve spent enough time listening to your self talk about all the fun you’re having, you can start asking your self to tell you when you’re feeling playful or even happy. It’s easier for your self now because you’ve been talking so much about the fun you’re having, and usually when you’re having fun, that’s what you’re feeling happy, playful even. Maybe not deeply happy or profoundly playful, but, you know, you’re having fun, and, well, that’s what makes you happy, makes you want to play, makes you even want to get other people and beings and things to play with you.
And then, see, you’ve become the playful person you always were, but never thought you were enough, never noticed, never allowed your self to believe in. And so your life starts feeling even more fun, and you start feeling even happier, being even more playful. Just like that.
From: A Playful Path by Bernard De Koven