My zest typically manifests itself in work and volunteer commitments, in home improvement projects, and through my learning and personal growth endeavors. Even though I have the capacity to bring energy to what I do, I have a hard time playing.
Last week, I had scheduled two days of work, one day of self-care, and four days for fun and family time. I wanted to fully activate my energy in each of these domains, so I made a very deliberate choice to focus on my strength of zest. At work, I wanted to be fully engaged and productive. At rest, I wanted to fully disconnect. And when it was time to play, I wanted to let down my guard and have fun.
Drawing upon my zest, I:
- Invited my family to go miniature golfing with me (and we didn’t keep score!)
- Said yes to an invitation to camp with my brother and his family (I had not camped in decades)
- Spent time with extended family I hadn’t seen in several years
- Explored my hometown with my daughter, taking her to my favorite childhood park
An unexpected benefit of reminiscing in my hometown was remembering how I used to play as a child. I recalled how I used to ride my bike, romp around the neighborhood with friends, play at parks, and climb trees. Indoors, when I wasn’t drawing, painting, coloring, or playing with my favorite toys, I played school and taught lessons from my favorite childhood books to all of the eager learners (stuffed animals and dolls).
Reminiscing about all of this made me feel a little sad. I realized how much I enjoyed playing as a child and how infrequently I allow myself to play now. And play is just as important for adults as it is for children. Play creates joy, leaves us feeling recharged, and is important for our creativity and relationships. We all can tap into the character strength of zest to bring more play into our day.
Join in the Fun!
Here are a few ideas for how to bring more play into your life:
- Play an instrument
- Act in a play
- Take an art class
- Go on a field trip and explore a new part of your town
- Go to a concert or performing arts event
- Play a card or board game that you haven’t played in a while
- Get out a coloring book or a paint by numbers picture
- Go for a bike ride
- Take a leisurely walk, just because
- Kick a ball in your backyard
What would you add to this list? What do you do – just for the fun of it?
If it’s been awhile since you last played, can you find at least one activity you can do in the next week – just for fun? Let me know how it goes!
“We do not quit playing because we grow old; we grow old because we quit playing.”
--Oliver Wendell Holmes
Resources: Character Strengths and VIA Survey
Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2009). Classifying and measuring strengths of character. In S. J. Lopez & C. R. Snyder (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology, 2nd edition (pp. 25-33). New York: Oxford University Press. www.viacharacter.org
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. www.viacharacter.org