Three Ways to Get More Whimsy in Your Life

whimsy

Put an aardvark on it. Knight Life print edition, editor-in-chief, Max Evans celebrates the end of a successful year by getting whimsical with the Knight Life Aardvark mascot posed on his head.

whim·si·cal

ˈ(h)wimzik(ə)l/

adjective

 Playfully quaint or fanciful, especially in an appealing and amusing way.

“a whimsical sense of humor.”

Remember the days of mud pies in the summer, tea parties at a small, plastic table, and the liberating feeling of deciding to move out and live in the tree in your backyard? Or the wonder of being lost in a good book, even though you could only read a chapter before your attention wandered? I know it’s lost on many of us, but I’ll come out and say it…

I want to be a kid again.

This probably doesn’t come as much of a shock to you. Many people miss the lack of responsibility and general fun of childhood. However, my desire goes deeper than that. I miss the whimsy of being a kid.

Whimsy is much more than the definition above; it is a way of life. To be whimsical is to be fun-loving, carefree, and find wonder in what many consider to be the mundane (which I will get into later). If the appeal of this is not self-explanatory to you then pay no attention to the rest of this article. For the rest of you who seek childlike joy, I have compiled a list of ways to increase the amount of whimsy in your life.

1. Read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Not “Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There.” I repeat: not “Through the Looking Glass.” This book is not whimsical. Instead of being the story of a girl going on adventures and being playfully quaint, it is bogged down by being confusing and dry.

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” on the other hand, is amazing. Written in 1865 by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, this book is one of the greatest fantasy and adventure books of all time. Each time I’ve read it, it manages to evoke a sense of fantastical wonder that nothing else can.

Don’t just watch the movies. Reading it is crucial. One of the biggest things adolescence and adulthood kills in us is our imagination. Movies indulge a lazy mind, whereas a book with such vivid descriptions as in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” offers an opportunity to explore your own creativity. An appreciation for your own imaginative capacity is just the beginning, though.

2. Climb trees and go for walks

University of Rochester author and professor Richard Ryan says, “Nature is fuel for the soul. Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.

“According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, group nature walks have been linked to “significantly lower depression, less perceived stress and enhanced mental health and well-being.” According to me, stress and depression are a leading cause of a lack of whimsy.

Pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom says, “A child’s neurological system is naturally designed to seek out the sensory input it needs in order to develop into a strong and capable individual. For instance, if a child starts jumping off small rocks, that is because their brain is ready for this type of activity. If a child is spinning in circles just for fun, it is because he or she needs that sensory input. If they climb a tree effortlessly, it means they are capable of doing so.”

It’s not just kids that need this, though! Play is an essential part of stimulating your brain. Getting outside and being in the natural word will make you feel playful and revitalized. In other words, it will make you feel alive. On top of this, climbing trees will bring you back to your primitive origins and if not that, it will bring you back to childhood. There’s something indescribably liberating about swinging and dangling from a branch.

3. Enjoy the little things

Yes, I know how cliché it sounds. You’ve probably been told this many times, but I really don’t care. If happiness is what you are all truly looking for, this is where you’ll find it. It might seem cocky for a 17 year old to say he knows the key to happiness, but I do.

Find a good book. Pet your dog or cat. Lay in the grass and watch the clouds. If you can’t find joy in anything else, the smaller, simpler things will be the easiest to focus on.

To practice this, make yourself your favorite beverage. Hot or iced tea, Pepsi, apple juice, or whatever else you may enjoy. Before you’ve had any of it, sit for a moment and concentrate on your breathing. Make yourself fully aware of the present moment. Once your concentration is honed, take a small sip of your drink. Close your eyes and block out all of your other senses than taste. Swish it around and completely experience the taste of it.

If you did this right, you have mindfully enjoyed a small thing. Many things have the potential to bring a smile to your face, but with some concentration, the little things are the easiest and often the very best.