“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
George Bernard Shaw
As we age, we grow in wisdom, experience, and maturity. Still, the free spirit in us also thrives on maintaining a sense of humor, an adventurous temperament, and a playful sensibility. The pressures and responsibilities of our daily lives during our working years naturally muffle our free spirit yearnings. We may have taken weekends and vacations to rejuvenate but learned very quickly that the resulting benefits to our psyche didn’t last very long once the daily routine started anew.
In retirement, unshackled from a daily grind, we can make up the lost time and nurture those neglected aspects of our personalities. Retirement permits a refocus of priorities in a quietly natural way. We may not even be aware of the alteration going on inside of ourselves.
While there is still a serious side to life in retirement, we can engage in recreational activities that are enjoyable and fun. Such events need not be physical, though a rousing game of pickleball may be just what the doctor ordered. Getting together for dinner or cocktails with friends on a weeknight and discussing or joking about current world events and the politics of the day can feel very playful and evoke laughter. Idling away an afternoon listening to music, going to a movie, reading, trying your hand at a new hobby, getting a mani-pedi, or meandering through a shopping mall can all be adult play activities. The idea is to engage in some selfish “me” time.
The art of playfulness comes more easily in childhood when self-imposed societal constraints do not inhibit us. Children do not yet have a fully formed set of limits and know no restrictions on their activities. Their playfulness is extemporaneous. In adulthood, the play we engage in is less improvised and more thoughtful. We are more conscious of the kinds of activities we want to take part in.
The essential factor in being playful as an adult is maintaining lightheartedness. A lighthearted attitude engenders a willingness to be open-minded about possibilities, surprises, silliness, vulnerability, and moments of joyful fun.
In my opinion, there is nothing that brings out the child in us more than a child. In my life, there is nothing more fun and joyful than to play with my grandchildren. Lying on the floor with them, they roll around on top of me and tug at my hair while I twirl them around like tops. They love to be chased around the house, hysterically laughing as they avoid capture. Of course, they have way more energy than I do, so when I tire, I have to divert their attention to another source of play such as watching an animated film or, exhausted, we all take a catnap.
Laughter, whether with grandchildren or a group of friends, is infectious. It’s like a forest fire. Once it’s lit, it spreads. Even the most inane comment, if said at the right moment and under the right circumstance, can elicit a roar of laughter. Is it the need for humans to congregate and share emotions that evoke this kind of response? I suppose it doesn’t matter. As my granddaughter says, “let’s just do it.”
– Joe from Arizona, a FAR customer who is finding purpose in this new stage of his life.
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Finance of America Reverse (LLC).