Taking life lightly: A spirit of playfulness

The self-development game can be a very serious business, talking about stopping wasting time and using our time more usefully, getting serious, getting your life together, stopping wasting time with just idle pursuits.
It’s all generally quite serious stuff.
And often a lot of the things that are fun are things that, when you get into self-development and making your life better, you have to kind of train yourself to avoid things that you find fun.
But of course, this can be taken way too far.
And being, overall, deeply serious as a fundamental disposition- we can be serious about life as our basic attitude, and yet, there has to be a level of playfulness.
There has to be a certain lightness, a flexibility, that gives a kind of fluidity to it.
Being overly serious is like a brittleness, like being a hard and inflexible structure, that if it is stressed, it can just shatter.
Whereas having a sense of playfulness and a good sense of humour is like having this kind of fluid and flexible structure that is able to withstand adversity and bounce back.
So it is a balance, of course.
Of course, taking playfulness too far would be simply wasting time and not doing focused, useful work, and simply becoming weaker and losing our energy.
But a certain amount of playfulness makes everything better.
Now, I realized this last week.
Oh, and by the way, right now I’m playing with this- I have this prism in my window that is making a rainbow, and it’s now right on my face.
So these kind of, you know, playfulness- sometimes these little things- a little bit of playfulness goes a long way.
So last week, before last weekend, I had had a bit of a phase of being very serious, and then I had that night where I started listening to music and dancing around and just kind of loosening up, and I realized how this had kind of awakened a sense of playfulness.
And I noticed how it affected me in other ways, as well.
I like to run in the park, High Park, near where I live, and as part of my route that I like, that does a nice circuit through the park, it goes through an off-leash dog area, where dogs are allowed to run free.
And I do this because it just happens to be a very nice route through the woods, and making a nice circuit.
But always, when I used to run there, I would be annoyed by these dogs that would run across my path, you know forcing me to either run into them or change direction.
Sometimes the dogs would start jumping on me.
And I generally found this annoying.
And I would, you know, just sort of kind of internally grumble at, you know, oh, these- what’s with all these dogs, you know, who needs these dogs? They’re interfering, and their human owners are letting them run free with no control, and they’re interfering with my run here.
So that’s clearly a very serious and kind of a brittle approach to that, as I was annoyed.
Yeah, being serious makes it very easy to be annoyed.
Any slight thing that goes wrong.
When you’re deeply in an overly serious mood, the slightest thing going wrong can lead to this feeling of irritation and annoyance.
And so that was kind of my default state.
But then I noticed- I wasn’t thinking anything differently about dogs or whatever, but after that night were I listened to music and kind of loosened up and sort of reawakened this kind of playful aspect, I found that as I was running in the park, I didn’t feel the same sense of annoyance about the dogs.
Instead, I saw these dogs are just playing.
And it’s not so terrible.
So what if the dog runs around my feet, or, you know, cuts me off, or jumps on me and paws at me.
That’s not really hurting me.
Of course, I draw the line if a dog starts actually biting me, but that hasn’t happened.
And really, the dogs are playing.
So ever since that time, now when I’m running and I see the dogs running around, I don’t mind at all if they start to do what I would consider to be interfering with me, getting in my way, and even jumping on me, because this is all just dogs that are playing, and I can play with them.
I can see this is maybe something that dogs can be helpful at, with teaching people.
Dogs do have, for the most part, have a very strong sense of playfulness, that being around dogs, you can certainly- they’ll keep reminding you of that sense of play.
So, now I can use this as a diagnostic.
If I start to become annoyed by dogs cutting me off and jumping on me, that would be a sign that I’m being overly serious.
But if I can approach it with a spirit of play, then it seems like this is a much more flexible and strong position to be in.
So this is just one example of how I can see that keeping a spirit of playfulness makes life better.

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