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Find the fun: Follow our plan to discover the life-changing magic of goofing off

Overworked, over-stressed and overwhelmed? Get the joy back in your life, starting now.

This April, we're exploring ways to get more joy in our lives with our resident Fun Expert, Meredith Sinclair, the author of "Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family's Playful Spirit." Check back every week for updates here and follow the fun on our Instagram as well.

Week 1: You must be the FUN you wish to see in the world

As the saying goes, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I bet we can all agree that if we want something improved, changed, or simply switched-up a bit, it’s best to begin with ourselves?

It's a great reminder for us modern parents trying to make the most of this time we have raising our kids. We create the world we inhabit in our own homes.

You want more happiness, lighthearted joy, and true connection in your life and less angst, tension, stress, and disconnect? It’s time to make playfulness a priority.

Fun is good for your brain

After years studying the power of playfulness in our lives, here’s what I know for sure… FUN matters.

Brain research and loads of case studies have proven that our ability to get lost in a purely playful experience (not for a trophy or "likes" on social media) is vital to our physical, emotional and mental well-being, and it connects us to others and our selves like noting else.

Researchers have found that too long without fun and playfulness in our lives can result in depression, anxiety, loneliness and the tendency to become "anhedonic" — unable to experience joy. Who wants that?

If you want more happiness and screen-free connection with your family and friends, you must first connect with what makes your own playful spirit sing!

I offer you 5 simple ways to invite more fun and playfulness into your already very busy, over-stuffed, kid-centered life.

1. Take a quick trip down memory lane

In my book “Well Played,” I recommend that grown-ups jot down 3 ways they loved to play as a child. Whether it was building or drawing, dancing or drumming, the stuff you enjoyed most as a kid is the perfect place to begin again.

2. Stop helicopter parenting yourself

Inviting a little more “free play” into your own life might involve a dash of risky business or “doing it scared.” Just as it’s no good to hover over our kids, making sure their lives are completely predictable, managed and safe, we must make sure we aren’t doing the same thing to ourselves. Try something new that thrills and slightly alarms you all at once. This year I’ve taken up “hip-hop boxing," piano lessons, and I’m just about to sign up for a stand-up comedy class. There’s nothing like something playfully unpredictable to awaken your fun-self.

3. PLAYgerize your children’s “work”

Play is the work of children and they always get straight A’s.

Take a page from their workbook and copy some of their fun. Jump on that trampoline, play one of their video games when they’re at school or after they go to bed, jump rope like you did when you were little, or run down a hill just for the hill of it.

4. Make the playground your BE-otch

I’ll keep this one short and sweet. STOP complaining about taking your kids to the playground! If you’re bored at a playground, it’s your own fault. Slide down the slide, hang from a monkey bar, or swing on that swing! It’s your second chance to play again: TAKE IT.

5. Don’t just do it for the 'gram

If you take a hike, visit a museum, make a cake, paint a picture, learn to do a magic trick, and no one sees but you, does it even count? If you’re shaking your head “no,” then I implore you to leave some of your fun off of Instagram and PLAY just for your SELF. It’ll blow your mind.

Follow us on Instagram for more joy-reclaiming tips from Meredith, and tell us: How do YOU find the fun in life?