Gwen Gordon in her article Well Played. The Origins and Future of Playfulness postulates that at a very early age we form a view of the world in one of four ways: World as a Playground, World as a Proving Ground, World as a Battleground, or World as a Prison. Simply put this roughly relates to how optimistic or pessimistic a person tends to be.
Ms. Gordon describes people who see the World as playground expecting “the world to be friendly and adventures to be enriching”. They “have a basic sense that the world is safe, which makes play possible.” Furthermore “ambiguity and uncertainty present excitement and stimulate exploration. They view strangers as potential playmates and new environments as potential playgrounds.”
Caitlin Creeper in her article The Urgency Of Playfulness quotes Maria Amelia Pereira: “When a child plays, it’s just them and the world.” “Because a child doesn’t live to play- playing is living.” “When a child is playing they are totally responding to their own lives.” “Life is expressing itself inside them.”
Yet how can we possibly be playful when Life seems entirely un-playful. When death, terror, chaos, greed, and all manner of injustices appear to rule the day. When we lose our job, our house. When a valued relationship turns sour, or all of a sudden we have traumatic health issues. How then can we manage to be light-hearted, whimsical, or silly in the face of such seriousness? How can the person who sees the world as a prison; someone who feels that the deck is stacked against them and everything is a threat; how can he/she be optimistic and equal to his/her life?
The answer simply put, is to just play. This probably seems paradoxical or counterintuitive. Consider though that playing is an exercise in creativity and imagination; it’s proactive, not reactive. Further playing is fluid and improvisational; it’s a practice of spontaneity; a loosening of the need to control. Play is Joy. Play is Confidence. Play is Gratitude. Playfulness is more about expecting possibilities rather than an attachment to some particular reality. It’s more about what could be than what is. Being playful is exploration; not expectation.
Play is Living. Play is Life. Play is being alive!!!
Let me be clear though; This Playful Attitude Will Not make your life all Roses&Rainbows. It Will however, help you reframe obstacles as opportunities. It Will, help you maintain a better frame of mind from which to solve life’s problems. It Will give you a new perspective. It Will change your expectations; and we often get out of Life what we expect from it.
If you live Playfully, the world will be your Playground.
be gentle with yourselves and be playful, Steve