“Don’t you find it odd,” she continued, “that when you’re a kid, everyone, all the world, encourages you to follow your dreams. But when you’re older, somehow they act offended if you even try.” – Ethan Hawke
You know that point in life?
When it was time to grow up. When it was time to become more serious, take on more responsibility and behave more mature.
In the beginning, for me, adulthood felt exciting. I took on different “grown-up” things with enthusiasm. I remember being 18 and going to the bank thinking, “here I am, taking care of my finances like an adult.” After moving into my first apartment, I strolled to the grocery story in the spirit of “going shopping and filling the fridge like an adult.”
But, then, at some point, things changed. I no longer played the role of an adult – I had become fully identified with one.
I had become an adult who lived for the weekends, complained that vacations were too short, and who did things out of necessity. The spirit of play was lost, and being an adult had become a serious business.
Childhood was all about play, play, play. Disappointment over having to stop playing, sulk for a while and then play, play, play.
Adulthood was more like work, work, work. Chores, play, and more work.
When you grow up, adults like to give you advice on how to be a better adult. What I’ve discovered is that much of the advice given is, instead of helping – keeping us from living life to the fullest.
Here are some of the most important ones:
1. You should focus on your future
Oh, the future! That thing we keep talking about. That mysterious place in time we aim for, but never really reach.
Have you found or seen it? If so, I’d love to know.
When we focus on the future, we forget the most important thing there is: the present. Our focus is better placed on what makes us happy today, not in 10 years, while having a vision for where we’re heading.
Like the word indicates, the present is a precious gift we’ve been given. (Cliché, but oh so true!) Present-moment awareness is light-years more important for a happy life than planning for a future that never will arrive.
2. You should stop playing
How good was life when it all revolved around playing?
Yes, you might say. But, we couldn’t live like that, could we? How would we get anything done?
Let’s take a step back for a moment. If you think that kids aren’t doing anything “useful”, think again. They make forts out of blankets and chairs, play the roles of mom and dad, and turn themselves into princesses and warriors with magical weapons.
They do it because it’s fun. They create out of inspired action. Take the inspiration and fun away and a task becomes dull and boring.
Just think about what Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all time, said: “Play is the highest form of research”.
Playing is a spontaneous process that happens by itself. It doesn’t involve any musts, orders or obligations. Kids don’t have to play. They do it just because it’s fun.
When we play we become fully present and focused. Playing enables us to see opportunities instead of problems, challenges instead of obstacles, and possibilities instead of limitations.
3. You should work hard
Oh yeah, this oldy.
Don’t get me wrong here. I believe that if you want something in life you need to work to get there. But, there’s a difference in working for something when you feel inspired to do it and when you have to push yourself to achieve it.
When we push ourselves, we work in resistance. One part of us wants to get the work done, while another is yearning for something different. We do it while having an internal conflict.
It’s like paddling a river upstream; we’re pushing instead of waiting for the flow to pull us down. When we believe that the only way to reach our desires is by hard work and struggle, we set ourselves up for a hard path.
So, what do you do?
You let go of the oars of the boat. You enjoy the ride and allow yourself to be guided towards inspired action.
Get serious about your playfulness
Life doesn’t have to be about seriousness. Life doesn’t have to be about hard work and struggle. Life doesn’t have to be about musts, obligations and to do lists.
Playing matters. Feeling inspired matters. Being present matters. Those things aren’t luxuries – they’re necessities.
So, leave ideas and beliefs about adulthood that doesn’t serve you behind.
Create your own rules for the life you’re living.
Photo cred: Sofie Stenmark, Model: My Charlotte Lestander