Talent (more often than not) takes practice. During Covid few have stood out in their ability to Practice at Play in a meaningful way. Through their Instagram antics Mandy Patinkin, Kathy Grody, and son Gideon thrive and play their way through life with humor, love, warmth, tenderness, and simple camaraderie.
Mandy in particular shares the power of practicing at play, twice a day, through a morning and evening task (turned ritual) with his tiny bundled habit of song, prayer, and play.
There is much to learn on the value of play and playfulness for adults. In his formative work “Homo Ludens A Study of the Play-Element in Culture” Johan Huizinga explored ancient culture, mythology, ritual, contests, and humor around the the sacred activity of play.
In 1938 Huizinga noted “as civilization increases in spiritual amplitude, the regions where the play-factor is weak or barely perceptible will develop at the cost of those where it has free play. Civilization as a whole becomes more serious — law and war, commerce, technics and science lose touch with play; and even ritual, once the field par excellence for its expression, seems to share the process of dissociation. Finally only poetry remains as the stronghold of living and noble play.”
That quote may take a re-read to digest and this post doesn’t speak directly to poetry yet these words hold power for us today. We’ve strayed from our ancient relatives in many ways yet the fundamental yearning for play still exists.
In a recent article from Classicfm.com, Maddy Shaw Roberts shares how “Thirteen Redemptoristine nuns at a County Dublin monastery have mastered a viral dance challenge, to “cheer people up” in lockdown.”
These nuns thoughtfully, deliberately, and most important playfully match the recent viral Tik Tok Jerusalema Dance Challenge.
We’re not sure which is more heartwarming…the nuns above or the backstory below from Master KG a South African Musician.
Occasionally wonderful, communal, and touching moments of play reappear in contemporary society. What are we to make of these and their importance? Should we, can we, how do we return to fundamental aspects of free play as originally described by Huizinga?
How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?
Can TIME be bent? Does it fly? If traversable wormholes exist, they could allow time travel….. If you are drawn into the physics behind wormholes read Morris, Thorne and Yurtsever’s paper on interstellar travel.. Think about it – time travel could be very fun and PLAYFUL!
If you live in the United States, you have probably just experienced Time Travel as clocks “leaped forward” an hour across most of the country placing you an hour into the future.
TIME is mystical. How we approach it, what we name it and how we embrace it are important to how we experience TIME.
For more, travel back to our prior post “Make TIME for Play” And, by all means enjoy and play with your time.
Make the most of your TIME – go out and be PLAYFUL today!
Physical play is important to maintain a healthy and robust quality of life. Playfulness is equally important for our mental, emotional, and intellectual well being through hobbies that challenge the mind like games, events that create social connectivity with others and activities that trigger creative approaches to problem solving.
The human spirit also craves and depends upon play and playfulness.
Anthony de Mello, SJ a Jesuit priest from Bombay got to the heart of the human spirit and play through his story on Leela or Lila the Hindu God of play. He shared:
The Master once referred to the Hindu notion that all creation is “leela” – God’s play – and the universe is his playground. The aim of spirituality, he claimed, is to make all life play.This seemed too frivolous for a puritanical visitor. “Is there no room then for work?” “Of course there is. But work becomes spiritual only when it is transformed into play.
Credited to Anthony de Mello, SJ
If the purpose of the “Spirit” is to make all life play including us as humans and our human spirit, then, perhaps our goal should be to live life through a playful spirit.
The Flower of Life is a sacred symbol – both playful and practical. Take a look as it is a visual depiction of the Creator creating us, and all of creation, in a very creative manner. Yes, playfully replicating spiritual eyes or circles.
The Creator creates creatively. And, encourages us to playfully create through our human spirit, in part so the Creator may also create with us and through us. The human spirit IS playful and needs play!
Taking the eastern philosophy further Lorenz Sell Co-founder of Sutra.com, or ‘threads of knowledge’ in Sanskrit, writes in the Huffington Post “We are born to contribute by creating. From that intangible space between mind and heart emerges the palette of creativity.”
Human Spirit Plays
Breathe into the Moment Now
Yes Playfulness Soul
If your spirit is up to a bit of playfulness… go here to learn about Haiku and have a bit of help generating your own. If the spirit moves you, of course.
In my experience, you will truly serve only what you love. If you love friends, you will serve your friends. If you love community, you will serve your community. If you love money, you will serve money. And if you love only yourself, you will serve only yourself, and you will have only yourself.
Bloggers and social media have been popping with memes and advice on the importance for people to ‘be nice’ and ‘be kind.’
These posts get us thinking but sometimes point the finger outward with advice toward how others should change their behavior rather than inwardly thinking on how we can act upon our own advice, create change in ourselves, and grow to be nicer and kinder.
Seth Godin on Martin Luther King day suggested 3 types of kindness — Small acts of kindness, kindness in the form of giving people the benefit of the doubt, and kindness in not seeking to maximize short-term gain.
The Art of Manliness distinguishes between the act of being nice as a way of making people feel good in the short term whereas kindness takes into account doing what is best for someone in the long term that may not make them feel good in the moment.
It’s really pretty basic. Daily focus on play and maintaining a playful perspective have kindness ‘built-in.’ Playfulness as a way to reframe situations helps maintain friends, make new friends and can (with intent) assist with Identity Diversification and a well balanced sense of self.
In his research Renee Proyer points out that a tendency toward humor, the appreciation of beauty and excellence, spontaneity, creativity, and being a team player are likely to predict if people are playful. Simply put, kind playful people are often smarter, more hopeful, creative, fun, funny, spontaneous, expressive, and silly.
Kind playful people are more often invited to the game and they understand the benefit of associating with diverse groups. Who doesn’t want these qualities and have the desire to be around others who feel the same way?
We’re working especially hard right now to be kinder and playful with our friends, co-workers, strangers, and for our own benefit. We’re even participating in a silly made-up virtual event and celebrating with a silly made up day on March 26th. We’re calling it Bee Kind Day, not to be confused with World Kindness Day.
It’s a prickly time right now. Many people are feeling the sting. If it’s difficult to even think about ‘being kind,’ ‘being playful,’ ‘being a friend’ or even ‘being nice’ maybe just focus on ‘not being’ a jerk is a step in the right direction. Baby Steps.
Find where you belong…. claim your space and place through Play and Playfulness.
“We often trick ourselves into thinking that we need is 1st place, when what we are really looking for is ‘our place.’ So when you find yours, amongst the renegades of spin; and the master string benders, don’t let anyone tell you it’s a childish thing. Catch it, and hold on to it; because when we find where we belong, we don’t care who’s in first, just that we are here. That we are together. And we are, the Champions.”
Camaraderie is like the wind, you can see and feel its impact; but, you can’t see it.
You have probably experienced the feeling of camaraderie, maybe in sport, in a band, or a work team. What is frequently felt is the loss of camaraderie when the group is dissolved, caput. That loss is an homage to the impact and importance of camaraderie.
One playful example is the TV hit FRIENDS theme song “I’ll Be There for You” by The Rembrandts. A group of friends, living, loving, and playing through good times and bad.
Camaraderie is often sensed while deep in a project, or a joint experience where everyone is “giving it” all for the common good. For us, during Covid, we especially feel camaraderie through our team mates at FIU and our research on Adults, Play, and Playfulness.
Margot Lee Shetterly’s “Hidden Figures” depicts another great example as she shares the story of four African-American female mathematicians and engineers who worked between the 1930’s and 1960’s for NASA. Three were labeled ‘entry-level computers.’ Yes, you read that correctly “computers”. Dorthy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who became the first African-American woman to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service, overcame discrimination as in a white male work environment and were instrumental to America winning the Race to Space.
Tough times? Absolutely. Intense experiences? You bet. Yet, the lives depicted (a compilation of many individuals) demonstrate a deep sharing… a camaraderie between the primary characters exhibited in part as they dance and celebrate together.
All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.”
Friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them, and it is this mirroring that helps them improve themselves as persons.
Camaraderie, friendship, play, and playfulness — they all have deep importance for us here at Practice Playfulness. Especially during challenging times.
That’s kind of how we roll and why we got started in the first place. We saw little current focus on adults, play, and playfulness and began this journey to define them as they exist in society today.
We are working on our definition. It will be grounded in science. We know it won’t include porn or do any harm. It also won’t be malicious. We believe it will be heartfelt and can be entered and left at will. As Tanya Markul may have written “If you find yourself tiptoeing around others you’re not walking amongst your tribe.” With play you shouldn’t have to worry about others in the tribe. Worry for them yes. Worry about them no.
Thanks to FIU and Leslie Frazier, Ph.D. we will soon begin to share how 1800+ survey participants view play and playfulness in adult life. Until then we are taking a belly flop, not a deep dive, into a few prior meanings of camaraderie and friendship.
In another article Popova discusses the Celtic term for friendship, “Anam Cara” (not to be confused with Anna Karenina) which in Gaelic means “soul-love” or “soul friend” Anam for soul and cara for friend.
Most recently Rhaina Cohen explores the of role friends in America today. She links ideas back through American history and points to more modern terms for deep friendship in the present day. For some, it’s as basic and blunt as “having a life partner you just don’t want to kiss.” And for others it’s closer to Richard Godbeer’s description, that friendship, in American history “not only conferred personal happiness but also nurtured qualities that would radiate outward and transform society as a whole.”
Camaraderie or Comradery on the other hand, in simplest terms is ‘the spirit of friendship and community between two people or a group of people founded in mutual trust and a sense of belonging.”
The definitions and synonyms (let alone) relationships between camaraderie, comradery, friends, play, and playfulness can lead down a never ending rabbit hole. And why we turn to science for help defining the relationships. What do most adults really think and feel about play and playfulness today?
Research will tell. We suspect there will be some clarity on camaraderie when we/one is absorbed in play. It provides a safe environment and you know where you stand. And if unsure it will still be ok. Because in the end real friends have your back.
Camaraderie and play may not always seem easy but a willingness to participate, combined with the freedom to enter and leave at will, plus the benefits play brings to well-being can make it feel effortless.
To paraphrase a meme flying around the internet this week. If someone asks you to show up in the woods naked for a satanic ritual and then they don’t even show up they may not be your friends. Cheers to all the real friends out there.
You’ll never get bored when you try something new,
There’s no limit to what you can do.
– Dr. Seuss
2020 is a year to remember. Truly. Given difficult times, fear and unknowns it has still been full of meaningful moments to reflect upon.
This next year holds the promise of a new and better year. While many of us made mini goals at the beginning of the COVID outbreak (way back in March, 2020), we collectively start fresh as we head into 2021 and begin a new decade.
Let’s start by agreeing NOT to be “RESOLUTE” in our resolutions! Sheer determination is not the best approach to successful goal setting or habit change.
Incorporate Playfulness into your life, or increase your Playfulness Quotient by adding micro moments of playfulness.
BJ Fogg, Tiny Habits author, has one approach to instilling daily habits; Leo Babauta, author of ZenHabits.net and The Habit Guide is another outstanding resource. Pick an approach that works for you.
Make 2021 YOUR Year of Playfulness. Put playfulness into action right now! It’s easier than you might think. Take a moment to focus with intention and if you can… touch your nose to your tongue… or blink your eyes back and forth as fast as possible. Fun, right? And, quick and playful. You’ve begun 2021 with Playfulness!
Here we go… you’re ready for some change in 2021, right? Playfulness has positive benefits for wellbeing and is typically fun! Remember touching your nose to your tongue just 3 seconds ago? Try it every morning with a prompt up to remind yourself (a smiley face to your bathroom mirror).
You’re all set with BJ Fogg’s formula: B=MAP (Behavior = Motivation + Ability + Prompt) to have a more playful year in 2021! Start tiny, stay tiny and have self compassion…
Whatever you do New Year’s Eve, take advantage of “the fresh start effect” with daily micro moments of play and join us in Proclaiming 2021 the Year of Playfulness!
The holidays can be challenging for some. It may take slowing down, focus, and practice finding the joy. It might be in a present moment, an unexpected upcoming moment, or unearthed in past memories.
Finding the mirth right now, during Covid, may help provide hope and optimism for the future and certainly a new memory for next year.
This year it may mean getting on your “goof” home alone, with immediate family, or your personal “quartanteam.”
Whatever it takes we wish you joy, play, lots of rest, reflection and hope during this holiday season. Ditch the chorus this year. Practice, perfect, and maybe record that vibe for next year’s holiday entertainment.