The most spiritual people I have ever known have always had a great sense of humour. Hilda Charlton

Often the first thing forgotten and a most important thing to remember is K.I.S.S. – keep it simple sweetheart! In other words ‘Lighten Up.’ There is nothing a dire situation responds to better than a little tea and sympathy (with two lumps of sugar or good spoon of honey). And by sympathy I mean empathy not pity. Empathy is heartfelt compassion and gentle. Pity tends to collude with dire-ness to create a sense of hopelessness and victimhood.

How could anyone be playful when things aren’t going very well in your life? It’s hard enough as an adult to be playful when things are good. Today’s society seems to say if things are going well or things are going badly just drink over it, then drink a bit more, make a real celebration of it (bad, good, or indifferent)…when in doubt, drink.

I disagree. There’s no bad situation that alcohol won’t potentially make worse. And there are a lot of other ways to celebrate or be playful other than getting legless.

Pay attention to kids. What do they do when they’re happy? Jump up and down. Make noise. Clap their hands. Spin around. Smile. Sing/hum to themselves. Talk to their toys and tell them the good news. What do kids do when they are angry or upset? Jump up and down. Make noise. Bang something on the floor. Pout. Talk to their toys and tell them who they hate now and don’t want to be friends with anymore.

To be playful as an adult, try doing the things you used to have fun doing when you were a child. For me, it was colouring or blowing bubbles. I also loved playing with my toys. Listening to music and dancing around the room when nobody was there. I liked building things and then knocking them down and laughing. What did you enjoy doing?

I watched a great film in the Kilkenny Subtitled Film Festival last month. ‘Toni Erdemann.’ He was a older man who enjoyed being playful by wearing strange costumes or face paint and false buck-teeth. When his dog dies he’s free to go visit his daughter who is working in a high stress job in Bukarest. She has no time for his playfulness and dismisses him trying to explain the seriousness she is facing in her work at that moment and sends him back to Germany. He doesn’t leave. Simply gets a new wig and glasses and enters playfully into every situation she is in, trying to get her to lighten up and enjoy the life she has to live. Even though I could identify with the daughter, I laughed a lot and wanted to go out and buy a few wigs!

In my life, my work, my writing I can be like that daughter. So caught up in the serious business of living that I forget to spend anytime with the little girl inside me. Usually I don’t recognise her until she’s so upset that she takes over my life with some sort of fear that is blown out of proportion.  When I take the time to listen to her and then play with her – sometimes seeing a Disney film, or colouring, or listening to music and dancing around the house remembering to smile, life feels and is so much better. I encourage you to spend some time with the little kid inside you often, and have fun being playful.