If a group of 10 people who know you got together in a room, what do you think they would say about you?
Imagine if someone told you that people said: “I just love being around her.”
Or if they agreed: “There’s just something about him…I can’t explain.”
Or: “I feel so alive around her.”
What would that feel like?
There are so many different versions of charisma, that’s it’s hard to understand it. There are slimy people who have charisma. There are people whose lives are a mess who have charisma. There are weirdos who have charisma. Hell, cult leaders have charisma.
But I’m interested in helping you develop charisma as a lifelong quality — not just a one shot deal.
And to me, that means that ‘charisma’ becomes a natural part of who you are. Your shit is on lock. It’s like an athlete who performs well every day, in every practice — not just at the Olympics.
And there’s one aspect of charisma that goes ‘un-talked about’ a lot.
What is it?
And before the eyerolls and the ‘DUH, Fels there’s a lot more to playfulness than meets the eye. It isn’t about being just a ‘fun, outgoing person.’
In fact, playfulness is actually a SKILL. One that can be learned. One that you can use to delight people, bring them joy, and make them feel incredible when they’re around you.
So how do you actually become playful? How do you practice it?
And if we’re going to talk about playfulness, we’re going to have to loop my dad back in, because he’s the one who taught me how to look at the world a little differently.
And before anyone thinks: “Well, I didn’t have parents like that,” remember that my parents divorced when I was very young, and I spent most of my time with the side of family who did NOT think this way at all. And for what it’s worth, you can learn this ‘skill’ from anyone who has it — not just your parents.
So my dad used to do all kinds of things with me. Sometimes we’d drive for the whole day on back roads of Long Island. Others, we’d play catch with my brothers. And then others, he’d take me to car shows or take me out on his motorcycle.
At the time, I didn’t necessarily ‘like’ all those activities. I mean, come on. A car show? My dad could tell you the exact year of the car, the brand of the tires, and what kind of engine it has in a second, and I was like umm…where’s Pretty Pretty Princess?
But he never let me whine.
He didn’t let me walk around and stamp my feet and say: This is dumb.
He also didn’t force me to like what I didn’t like, either.
He would just say: “Felicia, make it an adventure. Let’s have fun.”
And it sounds so simple, so commonsense, that you would dismiss it at the drop of a hat, looking for a more complicated, detailed solution.
But the way he phrased it made me see what I was looking at in a different way.
I thought: Ok. I don’t like cars. I don’t understand them. But wait — I can chase my brother around like a lunatic and make a game out of that. We can hide behind the cars. I can do a cartwheel right here and no one would care.
It was like instead of thinking: “Should I make myself like this, or not?” You think: “How can I like being here?” [vs. how can I like this car show?] And a tidal wave of opportunities for play presented themselves to me.
And fast forward to now, when I take out the trash or empty the dishwasher. Do I LIKE doing those things? I’d rather be watching the O.C. and eating freak healthy kale chips.
But when I do them, I turn on music and me and those plates? We get down. Because in my mind, what other way is there? Why hate doing something, if you could turn it into play?
And here’s why this matters
Think about the people you LOVE being around. Why?
They’ve got that certain energy to them, don’t they? They make you feel something. They wake you the hell up and make you want to LIVE.
And this is not to be confused with extroversion, or being the loudest person in the room. I have a friend who is, at first, quiet and more shy, but when she opens up, she’s like a Jackson Pollack painting. She’s creative, she has a unique perspective, and if we were to walk by a rolling hill of grass she’d be the first one to roll down it.
And we’re attracted to this people because we all want to feel ALIVE. Remember Breaking Bad? A chemistry teacher decides to start selling meth. Not because he’s a drug addict. And not because he likes meth. But because he’ll do anything to feel something.
But let’s say you’re thinking: “Fel..I ain’t got TIME to play.”
I’m BUSY. I have a NEVER-ENDING TO-DO LIST. I have a TIDAL WAVE OF EMAIL.
Have you ever thought that perhaps it is play that allows you to get what matters done?
Take one of my clients, who wanted to be more fun and playful. When we started cultivating this practice and integrating it into his life, when he went to work he had the thought: “What fun can I have today? What problems can I solve?”
“UGH, I have so much to do. It’s overwhelming. I need a Cheeto.” (Or, whatever. I just wanted to say Cheeto.)
In fact, I was recently reading a fantastic book called The Soul of An Octopus (because, what else would I be reading?) and they have done countless studies about how an OCTOPUS — an octopus for Christ’s sake — is a mischievous, teasing, and playful animal. They hose new strangers with salt water for fun. It’s their way of saying ‘Hello’ — just like when we were kids, we’d all horse around because it was fun.
And, if there is any good reason why it’s worth even entertaining the possibility that you could be more playful, fun, and alive, it’s this:
Which means what?
That no one is ‘too smart’ or ‘too serious’ or too much of a god damn Square to play. All you need to know is what to do to unlock it, and then practice, practice, practice. [And for the record, these octopuses are described as ‘charismatic and mysterious’. If those suckers can do it, so can you]
Which brings me back to you
Developing the quality of playfulness (without needing to sell meth a la Breaking Bad) is a doable, actionable, and learnable skill.
So if you had to figure out how to be more ‘playful’ on your own, what’s ONE thing you would do today to practice it? It could be as silly as making faces at yourself in a bathroom mirror when no one’s looking, or sharing a funny article with your co-workers. The best part is, you get to decide how YOU want to play.