Be Playful

Being playful when times get tough

Posted on: 11 July 2008

I’ve been going through a difficult time lately moving house and searching for a job, so I was hugely grateful when Damien Riley of Postcards from the Funny Farm emailed to check that I was okay and with the offer of a guest blog post.  Even better was his choice of topic: being playful when times get tough.  Thanks to Damien for this post.

Photo by xirannisx.

When life gets hard for us humans, we often turn to what we are used to for comfort. For many Americans that means turning to religion, the same people, books, music, routine and anything else we find familiar.

While turning to the familiar can indeed fortify our psychology and even our physiology, it can prevent us from advancing or becoming fully conscious. Most people who experience difficulty need to advance, they need a paradigm shift. If they grow comfortable in their difficulty they may not see clearly the way to solve their issues.

When we lose something precious to us, it can be easy to see it as negative. We need to see the possibilities. Like the gestalt optical illusion: one person sees the vase, another sees 2 faces.

Creativity suffers as well when people retreat. While the retreat may bring comfort, it is often at the expense of creative solutions.

People in times of difficulty should spend time “playing” mentally. Opening ones mind to their inner hopes and dreams and finding a way there is what this sort of play is about.

Many people in America can relate to difficulty right now because the recession is causing many layoffs. But there can be an upside of recession: consciousness. The value of play through difficulty is consciousness.

10 ways to play through difficulty

Photo by woodleywonderworks.

  1. Imagine your environment a place where you have only things you really want. Write down what it includes. You might be surprised to find your all-time wants are within reach. Be like a kid when you do this.
  2. Look at all the cans in your pantry. Rearrange them different ways. See your life as the order of the cans. See how much you can change such a simple thing. Imagine how much you can rearrange such a complicated thing as your job, or your life.
  3. Look at the books in your house. Remember that everywhere you see words someone was paid to write them. What other services/products do you enjoy that you could do for a living.
  4. Write ten endings to this statement -“I am clown because …”
  5. Roll around with a cat on the floor.
  6. Simplify your day, almost to the point of being ridiculous.
  7. Read something you want to read cover to cover. Write a thoughtful review of it on your blog or another online source.
  8. Go on a political forum, invent a persona and argue from a radical position.
  9. If something exciting is happening in your local area, take part. Invite people to your house to share food and conservation.
  10. Eat sweet things instead of a meal – e.g. custard filled donuts instead of a sandwich.

I hope these ideas for playing through difficulty will get your creative juices flowing. Many are stuck out there and a great way out of that “rut” is through play. How do you play through difficulty?

Thanks to David for helping me flesh out this idea and then agreeing to publish it here. For anyone interested in a similar topic, check out my series called Possibility Thinking.


13 Responses to "Being playful when times get tough"

David, I hope things settle down soon in your life. Damien, this is a lovely list. I specially loved #4 – 10 endings to ‘I am a clown … ‘. Just the thought makes me smile and my inner child quickly raised it’s head.
I love playing with my niece, catching up some comedy videos on stumble upon and sometimes clean up one portion of my house.

Thanks for the publishing David! I think it is such a hard time for so many people right now. That isn’t to make light of what you or anyone reading this might be going through. I believe hard times are “tests” that bring us through better or worse depending on how we score 😉 David, you are in my prayers. I hope someone takes the fun spirit of this post as they are traveling through darkness: I’m going to Magic Mountain tomorrow to ride the roller coasters, may this week hold something fun for you as well. Fake it til you make it.

[…] but TAKE IT.”  You can read all my favorite quotes here.  My guest post at Be Playful is here. addthis_url = […]

Ahh, the power of junk food and pets! I have good luck lip synching to Def Leppard. Pretty hard to take life seriously under those circumstances. Even if I’m still having problems, they seem to be less present–more like a problem to be solved-after I’ve given myself some distance with play. Lovely post, Damien. And David, I hope the hard times get better for you.

Hi David and Damien,

Tough times are always hard to handle as we often don’t know where to turn. To add to your suggestions, I find watching funny movies is a great distraction. Laughter is such great medicine. When we laugh it releases a lot of those tensions, and often we see things through a different set of eyes.

David, I’ll keep you in my prayers.

Reading all these comments this morning really inspired me. As a writer/teacher/Dad I can never get too much of that. I love the Def Leppard lip synching suggestion **singing** “Photograph …”

As a former kindergarten teacher, play is what it’s all about! I am anxious to read more on this site!!

Thank you…good list Damien, and I love the image too (makes me smile).

Two things that help me..My most favorite guru, Ringo, my dog. I adopted him from the safe animal shelter..he’s had a rough past, but what a wonderful loving attitude. Besides love and loyalty i can always count on him to make me laugh.

The other thing is nature….no matter what drama is happening in my life I find comfort there. For me that is where I hear the voice of the Divine/God from within.

I have candles burning now, and I will add you to the list David. Just remember:
’tis the darkest darkness that most reveals the light.
(I know this from personal experience) 🙂

Thank you again for sharing this.
Sending you both good energies and peace of heart.


~g-h: Good energy received and accepted! Thanks for the uplifting comment.

[…] Riley guest posts at Be Playful to remind us to be playful when times get tough. This was a simple piece, but a lot of the suggestions really resonated with me. When was the last […]

My parents and godfather always told me, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” And ultimately, what I’ve come to realize is that it’s all small stuff.

Granted life has had some really difficult moments; the kind that knock you flat off your feet. But it’s still all just small stuff. (Can you tell I’m optimistic?) I try to visualize the humor in a situation and I most often find it. That keeps my mind off the trouble present in a situation and it allows me to focus on overcoming the burden.

It’s a habit I’ve developed over the years. By being conscious of the fact that I always have a choice; a choice to let this moment bring me a down or a choice to overcome this obstacle and move on towards what I really want.

How about it, what activity calms me down? Get’s me to relax? A good book will do it or a dvd (old or new; I’ve seen a lot of movies more than once).

Ricardo, hat a great comment about “choice.” Sometimes we think there isn’t any but there always is. And with a name like “bueno” esta muy bien no?

I agreed with you

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