When Life gives you Lemons . . make yourself a delicious Lemon Meringue Pie! Then you can smash it into Life’s very surprised face. 😄 Did that catch you off guard? Like a lot of good comedy I started out in one direction then made a surprising right turn. Taking something ordinary and mundane and turning it into something entertaining. This reminds me of psychologist L A Barnet”s definition of playfulness: “The predisposition to frame (or reframe) a situation in such a way to provide oneself(or other) with amusement, humor, and/or entertainment.” Consequently playful people become adept at reframing in general. What do I mean by reframing? Reframing is a psychological term which simply put is changing your perspective, point of view, or expectations to something that is more beneficial and productive. What I like to refer to as having “mental and emotional flexibility”
Here’s an example; filmmaker David Hoffman’s house burnt down 8 days before giving a Ted Talk. As we see in his presentation the films, photographs, and other irreplaceable momentos that had been damaged, David relates how a philosophy of his has been one of making something bad into something good. He continues to muse as we watch, about turning the whole experience into a film! Here’s another example, one that might be easier to get your head around. A friend of mine was at the airport waiting for his flight one day. While he and others waited, the airline changed their departure to another gate Three times. As you might imagine this was very frustrating and tiring for everyone. Except for my friend. Choosing not to be daunted by this experience he began trading raspberries with with a little kid next to him. Kid “phttttttt!!!” My friend “ffrrrrtp” Kid again “thrrrpttt!” This exchange not only delighted the two of them, but people around them started smiling and even laughing. This noisemaking duo had decided that the delayed flight wasn’t so much of a frustration as an opportunity to play.
There are two more reasons that playful people are better at dealing with change, and rolling with the punches. First, they tend to be more curious and adventurous. Second, they have more practice at improvising. A few years ago I took an Improv class from Comedy Sportz. There’s an art to making something up in an instant. I loved the class though; it was fun. I did OK, some students did really well, for others it was a bit if a challenge. Ironically I wasn’t so much learning as re-learning. Children have a natural talent for this. It comes from playing and using one’s imagination and curiosity to explore possibilities. A playful frame of mind loves freedom and possibilities more than certainty and getting it right. This leads to a willingness to improvise and stretch the envelope. When something novel and/or unexpected comes your way a good quality to have is the ability to improvise. As we go through Life we learn the necessary tools and strategies along the way; however when something unexpected and daunting happens it’s advantageous to be able to come up with a new approach.
Being more of an adventurous disposition; playful people are also more intrigued with the journey than the destination. It’s the doing and exploring that’s more important. When there’s less concern for what the end result is, it’s easier for a person to have an easy-going and light hearted attitude towards life. It’s easier to deal with whatever Life throws at you if you have a loose grasp on your expectations in the first place. Not just that, but if life really is an adventure; unexpected turns of events are all part of the venture. They are just more challenges to play with.
All in all, people who’ve developed a more playful attitude have a certain looseness. A more relaxed and care free nature. This makes life smoother and less stressful. More enjoyable even if things don’t go your way. All of that is just is going to lead to a more successful life.
So I encourage you . . no I challenge you to explore the art of playful living.