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Building Happiness with Playfulness

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

Let’s take a minute of our day to talk about playful intelligence. I was reading an article in Psychology Today by Dr. Anthony DeBenedet on the subject, and it got me thinking about how hard it can be to be playful in adult life.

Before I go into that, I want to take a moment to differentiate between “play” and “playfulness.” Play is an action we take to have fun. It could be going to the movies, shooting hoops, or initiating a game of tag with the kids.

Playfulness, however, is a set of behaviors. It is the tendency to laugh, smile, or do other silly things that take the action of "play" and transform it into a feeling of happiness.

As we grow older, playfulness can become harder. Many of us get caught up in the seriousness of life and often go through the motions of "play" without actually reaping the benefits. Or, if we do manage to get some playfulness in, it quickly gets worn down by the stress of other things on our to-do lists. That's where playful intelligence comes in; it is (and I quote) the "working knowledge of how playfulness influences the internal and external aspects of adult life."

While I am not saying that you should become Peter Pan and disregard the aspects of adult life, I am saying that we need to build a framework in our minds that recognizes the need for playfulness and allows us to utilize it. How, you ask?

Dr. DeBenedet states that the five playful behaviors that seem to hold the highest value in adulthood are imagination, sociability, humor, spontaneity, and wonder.

So, the next time you feel down, overwhelmed, stressed, and unable to smile even when you are "playing," I encourage you to embrace one or more of these behaviors. For example, you could draw a chalk masterpiece with the kids on the driveway, surprise your spouse with a date night, take the time to appreciate a beautiful flower, make a coffee date with your bestie, or find a good ole knock-knock joke to tell at the office.

Remember, you have the power to create a happier life, so try making playful intelligence an Intentional Margin this week!

Become a Part of the Happiness Movement!

Remember, Kindness is contagious. Go out into the world and be kind to someone today. Plus, let’s connect on social at @everydayhappinesswithkatie and join the community on the hashtags #IntentionalMargins and #everydayhappinesswithkatie on Instagram.

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