Play On

by Roy H. Williams on May 9, 2016

Roy H. Williams · Invisible Heros · May 09, 2016

Pendulum in Action, invisible heroes, play, happinessI’ve been thinking a lot about aging. Now I’m a cliché for sure: a middle-aged man contemplating all the things in his life that will likely remain undone.

The weirdest triggers send us off on these melancholy journeys. By “us” I mean pampered American men. Today’s introspective journey was triggered when Dale Betts asked me about the 12 Stages of Seduction. He remembered reading my memo about them but hadn’t been able to find it in the archives at

I found it for him. That memo was November 10, 2008, eighteen months ago.

Damn. Eighteen months. A year and a half.

I remember writing it. I remember Pennie asking me to help her hang shirts from the dryer, the client I was going to meet at the office when the sun was up, the bills I was worried about paying.

Where does time go when it passes? Does it wink out of existence? Is it in a file folder somewhere?

Me thinks my finger has been on the fast-forward button when I should have been content with play.

“But if you are content,” we are told, “you aren’t living up to your full potential.”

Contentment is another interesting concept, a shimmering mirage we hear about, but never see.

“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” – Kim Foss

Paul tells us that a person who knows God and is content is the richest person on earth, “for we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Yes, my finger has been on the fast-forward button when I should have been content with play.

Play is the third interesting concept tumbling around in my mind. I remember writing about it recently. When was that? Pardon me while I look for it in the archives.

Crap. I wrote that on May 12, 2003, nearly 7 years ago.

Yes, I am a cliché. Turn with me now to page 17 in The Handbook for Men Having a Mid-Life Crisis. I read here on page 17 that I have 2 options:

1: Buy a sports car, a hairpiece and a membership at a gym.

2: Get a hobby.

Number one is definitely not going to happen and I don’t much like the word “hobby,” either. It doesn’t connect to big words like “joy” and “epiphany.” So I’m going to stick with “play.”

Play doesn’t just connect to the big words; it is one.

My 2003 memo tells me that for an activity to be play, it must be:

1. intrinsically motivating.
If you play because you want to win a trophy, you’re not really playing for pleasure and are therefore not truly playing.

2. freely chosen.
If you are playing because someone told you to, you are not truly playing.

3. actively engaging.
If you play while disinterested in the game, you are in essence not playing.

4. fun.
You must derive pleasure from it.

Play is a shortcut to happiness. Laughter is medicine. You know these things. But did you also know that people who are destitute are surprisingly likely to describe themselves as happy?

Let me be clear: I’m not recommending poverty as the key to happiness. But in her book, Happiness Around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires, Professor Carol Graham firmly disproves the supposed link between wealth and happiness.

As an example: the citizens of Japan earn and spend 25 times as much as citizens of Nigeria but the Japanese are no more likely to describe themselves as happy. Scientist Graham conducted an exhaustive study of the world’s population, leading her to conclude, “Higher per capita income levels do not translate directly into higher average happiness levels.”

Evidently, Frank McKinney Hubbard was right, “It’s pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.”

I believe nothing on earth can “make” you happy.

Happiness is a choice.

And it’s free.

Play on.


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