The Art of Having Fun outside of Psychological Time
By: J. Marlando
It isn’t very surprising but when I thought that this topic would make for interesting reading I began doing a little research and found very little on the psychology of simply having fun. As I thought about it, the truth is that “fun,” as opposed to having a good time is a traditional taboo in our country for adults. The old Puritanical view that excessive pleasure—of any kind—leads to sin has somehow remained in the bloodstream of most Americans who pass down the mental malady to their children. They may never directly say to a child having fun is for kids only but it is implied in the very attitude of the parenting nation. Indeed, what child while having fun at one time or another hasn’t heard the directive to “grow up and…act your age?”
In my years of working with exotic animals like Siamang apes, chimps, lions, bears and even hyenas, I have witness those animals and many others playing…just for the fun of it. My wife and I now have domestic cats and they not only play together at times but often by themselves running about, jumping with joy and so forth. (This really brings up the question of “animal imagination” which they obvious have and a subject I’d like to delve into sometime). Anyway, animals like human children simply like to indulge in fun and so playtime.
Adult humans stop having “fun” along their way and start striving to merely have a good time. A good time is often interpreted as “fun” but (pure) fun is an unencumbered state of being. A good time may be going out to dinner but even going out for an informal dinner has a certain protocol attached; a good time may be drinking and dancing but again there are rules and restrictions to be adhered to. A good time also might be a great golf game with buddies or a great tennis game between girlfriends but real competition plays a certain role in such games and if not competition than the “game” is labeled exercise or relaxation. In short, the “game” takes on meaning and purpose as opposed to being simply fun for fun’s sake.
As the reader can see, we could carry this on into endless examples. For a last example, we might call jet skiing fun but jet skiing takes pre-planning, expenses, an allotment of time and so forth. While the reward of jet skiing can be a good time, even a great time, as it turns out it is merely an extension of busyness like going shopping or attending the opera or, yea, like going to work or to the movies.
Fun, in its purity is detached from all exterior influences, responsibilities and judgment values. Fun is in and of itself; a total immergence of thought and/or action of the playtime. A little girl, we’ll say, having fun at jumping rope is NOT jumping rope but has become rope jumping. In this view she is NOT having fun but has become the fun she’s having.
Adults seem to lose this capacity to detach and merge into the moment; to become fully and wholly who they are in essence. Children and animals do this naturally. They simply are, so to speak, especially in playtime because “playtime” is outside psychological time. *Eckhart Tolle refers to “the insanity of psychological time” and then asks this:
How does this mind pattern operate in your life? Are you always trying to get somewhere other than where you are? Is most of your doing just a means to an end? Is fulfillment always just around the corner or confined to short-lived pleasures, such as sex, food, drink, drugs, or thrills and excitement? Are you focuses on becoming, achieving, and attaining, or alternatively chasing some new thrill or pleasure? Do you believe that if you require more things you will become more fulfilled, good enough, or psychologically complete? Are you waiting for a man or woman to give meaning to your life?
Both animals and children live outside psychological time. Their playtime is always in the present. They are problem free because as Tolle also teaches, problems need time! He says, “Focus your attention on the Now and tell me what problems you have at this moment.”
I will ask you, the reader the same question.
Regardless of what the modern and ancient sages say, however, most of us cannot or do not have the discipline to live from one moment to the next; to be fully committed to the now. Our minds are always “buzzing” with stuff we have to do, want to do, need to do and so forth. This I suspect is an extension of Western materialism, the virus that diseases the Western brain with the lyrics of that old song that states, “I don’t get no satisfaction.”
Playtime, not a commitment to but an absorbance in fun is the elixir of the dissatisfaction and anxieties of living in psychological time, the unhappy-maker for countless people. The art of having fun necessitates the art of letting loose, to completely submerge into the moment. Playtime, incidentally, doesn’t necessarily mean “playing” in the traditional sense although it can. Playtime can mean becoming absorbed in your work—which transforms its reality when it is named “play.” Playtime means letting loose of the self and so the self’s concerns and fully engaging in some activity like becoming in oneness with the tree outside your window or the intimacies you have with the one you love; to have fun unencumbered by the unknown future or the negated past and becoming like the child who is submerged in the reality of the game or like the dog that runs about the yard in a state of running about the yard—not running from anything or running to anything—just being “mindlessly” the fun of running.
We all need to gift ourselves with playtime and the art of simply having fun as often as we are able to break away from the trappings of psychological time. You of course cannot say anything like, well, okay I will set aside one hour a day for fun. This is merely extending the anxiousness of time encumbered activity. You can only practice (through awareness) being fully present in whatever you are presently doing.
The idea behind all this is to diminish ego-identity through simply letting go of past and future and, if you will, having fun for fun’s sake. It is my view that this will enhance your happiness and good health but not as something you will eventually gain but rather as a natural blossoming of your being; a transcendence into the awareness of the present if you will but then letting loose of that awareness so that you are no longer doing but have become the doing itself. This is playtime at its most engaging by oneself or with another. Try it and experience positive change.
*Tolle, Eckhart *The Power of Now*New World Library