Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Playfulness and Healthy Responses

In Ed Friedman's posthumous book, A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, he describes how families and organizations become more and more anxious and reactive as they lose their sense of playfulness.

Playfulness, he says, is part of our mammalian make-up, and is necessary both for developing intimacy and for maintaining healthy boundaries. "You can, after all, play with your pet cat, horse, or dog, but it is absolutely impossible to develop a playful relationship with a reptile, whether it is your pet salamander, no matter how cute, or your pet turtle, snake or alligator. They are deadly serious (that is purposive) creatures," he writes.

Summer is a good time to develop the ability to be playful, while the sun is shining and the weather is warm and you can relax a bit. Then when winter sets in and the world is dark and the weight of work and responsibility and family presses in upon you, perhaps we might remember the lightness and humor, the joy and silliness of the sunnier season. Then perhaps we can react less like purposive reptiles and more like the playful mammals we are.

Bring a little light-heartedness into your next anxious moment... as Indigo Girls sang, "the best thing you've ever done for me. Is to help me take my life less seriously ... it's only life, after all."


  1. Look at that cluster map today. Imagine people being playful all over the world in response to today's blog!

  2. What a wonderful thought!