(CT) Courtney Ellis–The Paradox of Playfulness

While a playful spirit can help our minds flex into new ways of thinking, it also helps shield us from the fear of failure that can cripple true innovation. Playful people trust that mistakes have lessons to teach and missteps can turn into surprising wins. After all, everything from super glue to penicillin was created by accident: Inventors noticed something new and interesting while in pursuit of designing something totally different.

Creative thinkers are often masters of play. Albert Einstein described himself as untalented but “passionately curious.” Thomas Edison loved reading and reciting poetry. Martin Luther King Jr. sang in his church choir. Marie Curie kept a sample of radium on her bedside table as a nightlight.

When we begin reembracing playfulness, approaching our work, rest, worship, and recreation with whimsy, incredible transformation is possible. We become less bound by the fear of failure and more open to transformation and ingenuity. We solve problems faster and with greater ease. We sleep better and experience less stress. We connect more easily with others and more readily see ourselves as part of a team. Most importantly, we are happier.

So if playfulness is really the answer—or at the very least, an answer—in our pursuit of happiness, how do we embrace it? Just trying to have more fun is rarely successful for long. In seasons of grief or exhaustion, when we’re under unrelenting pressure or facing health challenges, the instruction to just be happier can feel oppressive at best and downright cruel at worst.

Read it all.


Posted in Anthropology, Theology