The Opposites Game

Furious/curious They rhyme, but they have opposite meanings. It’s very difficult to feel both emotions at the same time, and one is far more productive than the other.

Seth Godin

At Practice Playfulness, for the most part, we are not fans of ‘should.’ You should, he should, they should, we all should. We also try to stay clear of politics. Yet the Opposites Game (Poem) struck a chord.

Credit: Ted-Ed, A Poem by Brendan Constantine and film by Anna Samo and Lisa LaBracio

On the other hand we do color outside the lines and believe all adults should have agency when it comes to play and playfulness as long as it does no harm. The right to enter and leave play at will — to decide how, what, when, with whom to play — are all important and part of agency.

Summer is in full swing, Everyone is getting out for fun. With the heat climbing, tempers are rising, homicides are up, hurtful games on social media are emerging in real life, and the blame game is at full tilt. 

We’re skipping the blame game. Instead we are practicing the old-fashioned child’s game of opposites!

The Game of Opposites as described by the Chateau Meddybemps website is “a simple and playful tool for helping young children build language skills.”

Of course there are all sorts of variations on the theme and a silly ‘app for that’ was easy to find online.

Credit: Opposites Game

Then there’s the adult version of the Opposites Game. It’s only for the advanced player. It takes a bit more ability and includes 4 P’s a K, and a twist. Patience, practice, participation, presence, kindness, and the twist — ‘counter-intuitivity’ — which may or may not be a word.

In “How to Train Your Mind to Focus on the Positive” Rebecca Muller shares insights from Alison Ledgerwood, Ph.D., associate professor U.C. Davis on the practice of responding counter intuitively.

As we are out and about more in public we play the game of opposites. It takes some skill and practice to react counter intuitively.

If wait staff are unkind give them a larger tip. If you accidentally bump into a parked car and no one sees you don’t scurry off without leaving your contact info. Do the opposite. If that’s a difficult move to play remember karma can be a bummer.

Or, if you wake up to a cloudy grey day wear your brightest shirt. Choose to deliberately smile to everyone along your way.

Finally if you feel like screaming in anger take a deep breath. Choose the opposite. Sing a song even if it’s just in your head.

As Ledgerwood suggests “You have to work to see the upside,” practice doing the opposite, respond counter intuitively.

Things are heating up. It’s time to do the opposite. Simmer down. Be cool and curious rather than furious. That’s how to play the game of opposites. Perhaps let peace begin with you through play. 


Published by practiceplayfulness

Life without play and a playful outlook is life without living. PLAYFULNESS is critical for adults and takes practice.

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