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What activities do you do that truly bring you joy? That kind of fun loving, childlike joy you used to feel all the time as a kid?

For me, jumping off cliffs, bridges, boulders, platforms etc. into sparkling blue rivers, lakes or oceans truly brings me joy. If you aren’t someone who likes heights this may be hard to understand at first, but really it relates not to the height but the pure, childlike fun of it.  Often, I find myself just jumping off the boulders in the rivers I frequent, no more than five feet high.

So often in life we don’t allow ourselves to have fun, for the sake of fun. Sure, we grab drinks with friends occasionally or have dinner with our partners or loved ones and that is all important and great, but when did you last have fun? Gut busting laughing kind of fun? What things would you do to have that kind of fun?

Studies have shown that playing and having fun provides nourishment to the body and soul. When we play it has beneficial effects on the prefontal cortex of the brain. Play is so important to happiness in life that it must not be overlooked. Adulting be damned! A study conducted by Alan Krueger, a researcher at Princeton, showed that people are happiest when involved in engaging leisure activities, so why are adults so afraid to do so?

A few years ago, I decided to leave my corporate job and comfortable house in the Bay Area of San Francisco to see the world and really try to discover myself again. When I did so, I realized I had all but forgotten how to play and had totally closed the option of being silly. It was a sad realization and one I was determined to correct. So now, I travel, I explore new places and foods, meet new friends from all over but most importantly…I take the time to play. I think my enthusiasm has been rubbing off on my friends as well. We all have started joking around more and taking ourselves far less seriously and we are not ashamed to plan our weekends around getting outside or staying in and playing. From swim parties, to picnics by the river, to bowling, volleyball and the like, we play, we enjoy and we live more fully.

I encourage each of you to find a friend, girlfriend, boyfriend or family member and go play! Jump off things into water like I do, go swing in a park, go kayaking, play frisbee, whatever it is that makes you joyful. I promise you will become more relaxed in your own skin, enjoy your free time much more and add years to your life.