Sometimes, we take life very seriously. That’s because life is very serious. It is precious, and fragile. It is filled with responsibilities. But it’s also important to be serious about being silly. Because silliness and play create incredible moments and memories. Silliness and play is how we connect—to others, to ourselves.

As psychiatrist Stuart Brown, M.D., writes in his book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, play “allows us to express our joy and connect most deeply with the best in ourselves, and in others…Play is the purest expression of love.”

Below are 50 ways you can play. Consider making your own list, and consider checking it off. Maybe this year. Maybe in the next few months. Make it a playful challenge.

  1. Play old-school board games such as Monopoly or Candy Land or Clue or Scrabble or Guess Who (and keep your phones in the other room).
  2. Play tag.
  3. Make s’mores.
  4. Play hide-and-seek.
  5. Ride your bike.
  6. Write a three-line poem about your favorite food.
  7. Take a quick walk and challenge yourself to find five new things you’ve never noticed.
  8. Make up a new dance move.
  9. Draw with your mouth.
  10. Go to any kind of museum. Pick one piece to observe. Stare at it, and let it spark a story.
  11. Write a three-line poem about your favorite song.
  12. Set a timer for one minute and trace your right hand.
  13. Blow bubbles.
  14. Spend the day taking pictures of things your 7-year-old self would’ve stood in awe of.
  15. Go to a water park.
  16. Read a children’s book.
  17. Go to the grocery store, and pick up a new fruit, a new veggie, a new dessert, and a new something else that you’ve never tried before. Make this a weekly ritual.
  18. Plan a theme night for dinner this weekend—like an 80’s night with movies, songs and snacks from that decade.
  19. Get your hands on a dictionary, and spend a few minutes searching for the strangest word.
  20. Draw the stars.
  21. Visit an aquarium.
  22. Come up with your own truly positive, inspiring magazine (versus many of the shame-inducing “health” magazines on the newsstand today). What would your magazine be called? What would the covers look like? What columns would it contain? What advertisers would you allow?
  23. Watch a TED talk about something you know nothing about.
  24. Make up a knock-knock joke.
  25. Play charades.
  26. Draw what the world and people will look like in the 30th century.
  27. Write a five-line poem about a funny memory.
  28. Skip everywhere you go today.
  29. Jot down the different things you smell in one day.
  30. Spend one minute creating an inchie.
  31. Watch your favorite Disney movie or cartoon.
  32. Buy a book of jokes, and start the day by reading one joke—and tell the joke to as many people as you can that day.
  33. Make a Halloween costume from scratch (sorta).
  34. Swing on the swings.
  35. Create a comic-book that celebrates a trait you previously disliked (or even hated).
  36. Play Hangman.
  37. Find an inspirational quote, and jot it down in your planner or somewhere else you’ll always see it.
  38. Make a list of five things that make you smile. Draw them or snap their photos.
  39. Make a logo for your pretend (or real) company.
  40. Think of silly solutions for daily irritations.
  41. Cut out images from weight-loss ads (and related ads), and turn them into body-positive slogans.
  42. Draw a body part of yours that you love.
  43. Play with Legos.
  44. Hula-hoop.
  45. Use your pots and pans as instruments.
  46. Jot down the different tastes you savored in one day.
  47. Create an original sign that simply says, “No, thank you.” Decorate it any way you like. On the back, list alllll the things you’d like to say ‘no’ to. Any time you’ll be saying ‘no,’ picture your fun sign.
  48. Respond to prompts such as: If I were a ________, I’d be ________. Respond through writing or drawing or taking a photo. For instance, If I were a flower… If I were an animal… If I were a food… If I were a song… If I were a notebook… If I were a sculpture…
  49. Make up a word. Slip it into a conversation, as though it’s a real, totally legitimate term.
  50. Make a list of 50 playful, silly, fun, creative, uplifting, interesting, exciting, sweet things you can do—some things that take a few minutes, some that take 30 minutes, and some that take much longer. Give yourself plenty of options. And consult your family and friends.

Play is a vital part of our self-care routines. Play is a vital part of our lives.

How can you play today? Tomorrow? This week?

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash.