Health and Playfulness
Playfulness is one of the signs scientists look for when trying to determine the health of a herd of animals. The healthier the animals and the safer the herd, the more they play.
The same is true of the human herd. Especially herds of children. As long as the kids are healthy and feeling safe, left to their own resources, play is the thing they do.
Adults of the herd play less, at least observably, because for the most part they are not as healthy and definitely not as safe as they were when they were children. And when they are being playful, they tend to feel healthier, safer, almost like they did when they were kids, and maybe even better. Simply by playing, they reclaim their health, their community, their well-being, the energy of their youth.
Adult human beings are different than the adults of any other species I can think of, in that they can choose to be playful, even when they don’t feel safe or particularly good.
The Playful Path – finding fun in the daily game
During the course of their working lives, most people lose touch with the sources of their personal power. Play, especially when it is whole-hearted, whole-minded, whole -bodied, is an experience and expression of personal power. When people play, and play fully, and especially when they play playfully, they are engaged, involved, in charge.
So this is what I teach
- fun is fundamental to happiness
- people can have more fun
And this is what I discovered:
There’s a direct connection between the experiences of alienation and stress, and the amount of enjoyment people were having – that the more alienated and stressed people were, the less fun.
And I know how people can make anything more enjoyable – their jobs, their relationships, the things they make and do.
That’s it. That’s all you need to know. As long as you are playing, as long as you are fully playing, and playing playfully, the Playful Path is more likely than not to be the path you’re on. And as long as you stay on the Playful Path, you make even the daily game more fun.
That’s the thing about the Playful Path. As soon as you stop playing, or stop playing fully, or stop playing playfully, suddenly you’re somewhere else, on some other kind of path, a path that is most definitely not a playful one and ultimately not particularly fun.
Whoever chooses to respond playfully, most often and most…um…playfully can be said to be a “traveler on the Playful Path.” Someone making, having and being fun.
What is odd, especially to those of us who have, from time to time, walked that very same Playful Path to which I herein allude, is that people would choose any other way to experience the world. Why would you not want to follow the Playful Path? What other path is better designed to take you to happiness? What more reliable guide to happiness than fun and creativity, spontaneity and responsiveness, laughter and silliness?
Traveling the Playful Path is a kind of whole person, whole community, whole society, whole world yoga with laughter and games and exercises and studies and arts that help you create a daily game that is more fun for you and the world.
It seems to me that the whole idea of “laughing for no reason” and all the documented good that comes from doing just that, is exactly that – an invitation to return to the Playful Path. I have one more such invitation. Today, I’m calling it “playing for no reason.” Because, like what happens when we laugh for no reason, when we play for no reason we are reminded of how easy it can be for us to bring a new level of vitality to ourselves and each other, to our significant others and all they signify, to those we care for and care for us.
Playing for no reason, playing what I call “pointless games,” we rediscover:
- the art and science of fun
- how we can make things more fun for ourselves, and everyone around us