Play! A group of friends having fun.

Play

Do you want to go out and play?!

As adults, our time for playing is usually not as spontaneous as that. Our playtime is often highly scheduled, goal-oriented, competitive, or in many cases, non-existent. We may have hobbies, activities we do for relaxation, or things we do to pass the time, but how much of it is fun? How much of it is carefree? How often is it spontaneous?

As adults in Western society, we have many expectations placed on us. We’re expected to go to work, pay our bills, raise our children; more fundamentally, we’re expected to act “responsibly.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but for many, this sense of responsibility displaces any sense of fun we had. We may occasionally let our hair down in a card game with friends or at the beach on vacation, but is fun and playing an essential part of our lives? Is it part of who we are?

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Surprise. A young man surprised at the wonder of the world.

Surprise

Surprise!!!

Some people love surprises. The rush that comes with something startling or unexpected can be a welcome and sometimes dramatic alternative to our routine existence.

Others hate them. They might dislike deviating from their carefully crafted schedules. They may feel uncomfortable with anything that alters their perspective or opinions. They may not like the feeling of being startled.

Whether we like surprises depends on what we focus on when we think about surprise. There’s the “surprise party” kind of surprise, which involves both being startled and an unexpected event and people. There’s also the kind of surprise that involves an unexpected realization and the impact of knowledge or information that is significantly different from what we previously thought. Which we focus on makes a big difference to our comfort level.

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Expressions. Young man playing guitar while sitting at windowsill.

Expressions

True art cannot be judged; it exists as a form of expression.

We each have things we do to express ourselves—a creative outlet. Maybe we want people to like what we do; maybe we will never share it with anyone else.

Some eventually seek opinions about their expressions. When that line is crossed, our expressions become something else: something more formal, something owned by others as well as ourselves.

When I use the word expressions here, I’m referring broadly to those activities we engage in that help us express something in ourselves. Art falls into this category, but it also might be music, writing, or any form of artistic endeavor. It also might be a physical expression. Dance is a more obvious example, but sports and other physical activities might be expressions too. Surfing lends itself well to expression. It might also be the way we present ourselves, our personality, or our fashion. There are many ways we can express ourselves.

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Equipment for adventure

Adventure

When we were children, we were constantly pushing our boundaries, learning what we can do, and then going beyond what we have done. This involves taking risks, trying new things and learning about the world. For a child, everything is an adventure and horizons are constantly expanding.

As we get older, it is easy to become jaded—life becomes routine and we lose our ability to see new things even when they are right in front of us. We begin to acquire commitments and responsibilities, and we tend toward living safer, more stable lives. But does that mean that we shouldn’t continue to take risks or do exciting things? Absolutely not.

Adventure and stability are not mutually exclusive.

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Fun. Playful woman studing with colorful stuff.

Fun

Some parts of our lives are fun, but other parts of it – not so much.

We all have responsibilities – things we have to do – things we do because we get paid to do them or because they are necessary parts of our lives.

But does that mean that these things can’t be fun?

Some people go through life with a sense of weight on their shoulders. Everything they do seems to involve drudgery, and they are constantly worried that something new will either add to the grind or throw everything out of whack.

Others always seem to be positive, happy and energetic. They breeze through mundane tasks and take on new challenges with creativity and vigor. They approach every aspect of their lives with a sense of joy.

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