Being A Playful Adult (Or Puppy)

Of all the things we think of being when grow up, I feel that being playful is one of the most underrated.  It relieves stress, develops social skills, increases imagination, and builds, maintains and develops relationships with others.

Indeed, a new research effort by Dr. René Proyer and graduate student Lisa Wagner, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich, shows that playfulness also plays an important role in the choice of a partner in the European culture.  Quoting Rick Nauert, PhD

Friendliness, intelligence, humour, and a fun tendency came at the top of the list [of desirable characteristics in a partner]. Playfulness ranked in the middle, although not all that far behind the favorites.

“Therefore, this personality trait also seems important for the choice of partner — at least more so than the partner having a degree, good genes, or being religious,” said Proyer.

Moreover, further analyses revealed that participants who described themselves as playful also valued playfulness, humour, a laid-back attitude, a fun tendency, and creativity among potential partners themselves.

And the participants who were in relationships assessed themselves as more playful than those who were currently single.

In my pretty unsuccessful online dating days, someone (who I met online dating) suggested I write my profile like this:

Please adopt Michael.  He is a fully house trained dog who has not lost any of his puppy playfulness.  He is infection free, had all his jabs, not spayed with glossy long fur.  Would suit a home with female companion and no other dogs so he can have lots of affection.

At the time I thought it was complimentary but now I’m not so sure.  I think I was seen as being playful because, as I entered my fourth decade of life, I was still building Lego and playing football with friends, and wearing brightly coloured odd socks more often than not.  I also enjoy games, whether they be on a board, at the table or on a screen.  I get easily excitable excited by simple things.

(Actually I maybe shouldn’t have crossed out “easily excitable” because that happens too!  You know like when you wind up a dog to the point that it’s too exhausted to go for the walk by telling it that you’re going to go for a walk? Yeah, you can do that to me too!)

Those were the things that this friend knew about! An example of the bits that push the boundaries of between playful and childish are things like seeing how far we could throw burnt sausages off a kitchen utensil.  There is a particular technique to this!

I’ve found that sometimes people see being playful as an adult as a negative thing.  I can’t abide the people who you can tell want to throw 4 inches of burnt meat in to a field from a spatula but won’t because it might tarnish that straight laced, grown up, responsible persona.

I’m not, in this instance, talking about playing with feelings or emotions or anything that deep.  I’m talking about jumping in puddles, playing with toys, sliding through the mud when playing football, climbing trees, water fights, food fights and face painting.  In other words, they’re all things that have no goal and no meaning except sheer enjoyment.  They aren’t activities that could be deemed a failure and where it really only is the taking part that counts.

Yet, why did I say that I’m not talking about feelings or emotions?  If we do all those playful things for the enjoyment of ourselves and others, why don’t we, or at least, why don’t I, apply the same rationale with a bit more responsibility to bigger things?

Here’s to being childish and playful, and a little bit adult too.

Everything is beautiful, the girls are everywhere.
They’re running in slow motion and I cant help but stare.
It’s the simple things you’ll remember till you die,
Like lazing in the summer and laughing till you cry.

And its fine, we’re singing in the street.
And its fine, there’s grass beneath my feet.
There’s a thousand little problems disappearing as we speak,
And I just love this feeling, I’m fine, I’m fine.

I’m Fine by David Sneddon


Comments 1

  1. Sonia D'Costa

    Hmm … I kinda agree with you. People cannot even tolerate playful kids these days. As for playfulness in adults, it is almost frowned upon.

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