“What the devil is the point of surviving, going on living, when it’s a drag? But you see, that’s what people do.”Alan Watts
On the surface, this quote by philosopher Alan Watts isn’t the most inspiring — it might even sound a bit grim.
But stick with it for a second.
One of the hardest things to balance in our day-to-day lives is maintaining joy and fun while we take on the “serious” tasks of the day like our work for instance.
Maintaining an attitude of fun, playfulness, and curiosity while we still are sincerely engaged and committed to the task at hand.
This is about understanding the difference between being serious and being sincere.
Alan Watts talked about this critical difference as a way for humans to “wake up” to how we play the game of life.
To illustrate this difference, think of a time when you were playing a game with others, maybe it was a board game like Monopoly. Either you or someone else was being extremely serious and lost complete sight that they are simply playing a game.
They might have been hyper-focused on the minutia of the game, not conversing, strictly policing the rules, all while barely cracking a smile.
We all know what it’s like to play a game with someone like this. It’s not fun. The energy becomes stagnant, maybe uncomfortable, and like Alan Watts says “it becomes a drag”.
Being serious is the quickest way to obliterate the playfulness from any “game”.
And this applies throughout our lives. We can substitute “game” with countless other things like our work, projects, exercise, walking the dog, meditation, cooking dinner, or even something trivial like doing the dishes.
Now, on the flip side, back to the game analogy, consider the person who always maintains a clear perspective that they’re simply playing a game — yet they choose to play it with full gusto while having so much fun.
Now, that’s SINCERE.
This person can recognize and balance the duality of the moment. They are fully committed to playing the game yet lively and light.
They throw themselves fully into the present moment — yet never lose awareness of the moment’s context.
We find this person to be so much fun to play with.
The key idea in all of this is PLAY — which when applied to how we go about our lives is about:
This is the state of being I set the intention to take on every morning.
Playing “the game” (or insert any aspect of life) wholeheartedly, with so much passion and enthusiasm while never forgetting it’s all just a game.
I believe it’s in the spirit of combining sincerity with playfulness in which we all aspire to live our lives. It’s what I like to call:
Waking up every day feeling radiantly alive— energized to do whatever it is we do throughout the day.
All while maintaining the perspective that everything we take on (work, projects, goals, etc.) in our life are just elements of the “game”… andnot the source of our happiness and fulfillment but rather a mere outlet for it.
If throughout the day we find that life is “becoming a drag”, it’s usually because we’ve gone unconsciousby switching from being sincere to being serious in whatever we’re doing.
It means we fell out of the state of sincere playfulness.
It means we’ve lost perspective of the “game” we’re currently playing and along with it vanished any sense of ease, playfulness, and light-heartedness.
So, how do we get ourselves back to sincerity?
Personally, I try to remind myself that I’ve slipped into that overly serious person playing Monopoly who is being heavy, rigid, and seemingly isn’t having fun.
And even if I’m “winning in the game”, I lost complete perspective.
Because after all, what’s the point of winning at a game in which no one is having fun playing including yourself?
Remember, always sincere. Never serious.
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