Leading an adult life has never been easy. We seem to be working harder than ever to keep our heads above water just to pay for our basic necessities. Many of the companies we work for are downsizing and outsourcing. Worries abound.

But continually living life in “serious mode” can lead to a life full of stress, anxiety, and daily grind burnout. It almost makes you want to become a kid again—happily playing all day without a care in the world. Which brings me around to the point of this article-play. I will be using the word, “play” and “fun” synonymously in this article.

Play is the act of enjoying oneself. That’s it. Play opens us up to the flow of life. Play has no other purpose but its own. If you are doing something that might otherwise be fun and play with an ulterior motive, than you are still at work, not at play.

For example, if you decide to go to a sports bar to watch your favorite team play and enjoy the company of other fans, this would be play. If you go with the main ulterior motive of picking up a girl or guy, you are in part doing focused work (ironically, if you just went to have fun, you might have a better chance of meeting that girl or guy who sees you as an enjoyable person to be around!)

The bestselling book , “The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally,” by David Elkind states that kids these days are subjected to the same pressures as adults to have ulterior motives and “be serious” about their play. As Elking puts it,” unstructured play is too often replaced in modern times by organized activities, academics or passive leisure activities such as watching television and playing video games...they are more likely to encourage brand loyalties, fashion consciousness, and group think.” Ulterior motives. Play with a purpose isn’t play at all.

Many decades ago a film producer was racking his brains in serious thought trying to come up with ideas for entertaining material. Not making much progress, he thought to himself how much fun it was to simply watch the kids in his neighborhood play. The way they interacted and the ideas they came up with were more funny and amusing than most scripted movie comedies.

So he hired a bunch of neighborhood kids-not child actors-to be in a series of film shorts called, “The Little Rascals.” Seventy years later, The Little Rascals still delight both adults and children. It’s my bet that they always will. Why? Because they’re having fun, not trying to appeal to us, not touting any particular style, fashion or product.

How can we as adults with a myriad of responsibilities harness the “Power of Play?”

First off, start doing things that you enjoy. It could be calling a friend to chat, riding a bycycle or playing tennis (you try this without keeping score—just enjoying the fun of hitting the ball back and forth and keeping it in play!)

Do hobbies. A hobby is an activity we enjoy for the fun of it and do regularly. Even if you are overworked and have little spare time, get a hobby! Hobbies allow you to do something you love-without the pressure to make a living at it. And, in time, as you develop your hobby, you may consider doing your hobby for a living.

As many self help gurus will tell you, the people closest to you have a more profound effect on us than we think. Are most of the people close to you always serious and worried about what will happen next? Or do they know how to enjoy themselves and have fun?

Two of my best friends are much younger than me and haven’t forgotten how to have a good time. Sometimes I question myself as to why I see them at least regularly-once a week. Sometimes I think that maybe I need to hang out with older, more serious people may age exclusively. But not only are these younger guys my good friends, we have fun together. And just being with them is cheaper than therapy or paying for an expensive vacation!

Getting the benefits from play takes a certain amount of courage and faith. You have to let go of constantly making plans, thinking too much, and being serious to have fun. You have to trust that life will unfold positively for you by doing what brings you joy. But the rewards can be great. Doing what is fun gets you back to the real, organic you. And rather than living a life spent in constant planning and worry, you may create a life that you look forward to living every day.

Author's Bio: 

Stan DiCarlo's mission is to help the average man and woman better their lives. Stan does his own research. Although his self improvement ideas come from many sources, he is his own "laboratory rat" and only recommends what he has found to work on himself and those he associates with in the real world. Please send your questions for Stan to "makingaveragegreat@makingaveragegreat.com"