Theresa O’Connor

遊ぶ (asobu, to play / to have fun)

There was a lunar eclipse tonight. It rocked.

Not only did the eclipse rock, but the reaction to it here at Rose rocked.

Allow me to elaborate. There I was, sitting in my room, considering going outside to watch the eclipse. It was wicked cold out tonight, which was a big disincentive to go outside. This attitude was roughly the consensus in the dorm for quite a while leading up to the eclipse.

So what did we residents of Blumberg end up doing? We had an impromptu eclipse party on the roof. We rounded up a bunch of people from our dorm, from others, and from off-campus, climbed up the appropriate ladder from the top floor, and had a blast. Sheehe (my roommate freshman year) took photos, which he will hopefully scan in.

This got me to thinking of various character traits that I think are really awesome, and that I’d like to look at more formally at some point. Spontenaity, gaiety, exuberance, these are all really good things that really add a lot to your life. I really like living and working in an environment which fosters this sort of thing. The vibrance and energy of it all really gets to me.

I suppose I should at least mention the fact that my mood today clearly differs from that of yesterday. No, I guess I’ll do more than that. In considering my moods today and yesterday, I think I was right on the ball in saying:

Being motivated and being active are inseparably intertwined in a feedback loop with one another. When you’re motivated, you’re more likely to do things and get results, which then positively effects your motivation, and so on and so forth. When you’re feeling apathetic and/or unmotivated, you tend to do less and achieve less, which at the least doesn’t improve your motivation.

Today has been a very active day for me, and I’ve gotten a lot done. Granted, a lot of that was stuff that I should have been getting done yesterday. But my higher levels of motivation and satisfaction today are definitely related to the following two facts:

  1. I got stuff done today that I needed to get done.
  2. I got to positively interact with fun and interesting people in unexpected ways.

Today has been one big positive feedback loop, a rollercoaster worth riding. I’m looking forward to the new-and-improved theme park that tomorrow may be.

WARNING: Living your life with awesome people severly increases the risk that you might end up enjoying yourself. Consider yourself warned. :)

Actually, thinking about all of this now makes me want to go back and finally write a second draft of that essay on playfulness that I wrote last July. There are a lot of interesting dimensions to the topic that I’ve come across since writing that first draft. For instance, there’s a body of scientific evidence that suggests that playfulness is a key evolutionary trait of the higher animals, because it plays a key role in the learning process. That’s so neat. This is the sort of thing that has an intuitively correct sound to it, and I want to consider it in a more rigorous manner and see where that thinking leads.

Another thing that just occured to me: if playfulness does play a vital role in the learning process, it should come to no surprise that workers in today’s information economy are increasingly seeking out vibrant and stimulating workplaces, as contrasted with the drab cubicles of old. We want to work in places that we can enjoy working in. We want co-workers who have a wide range of interests, who we can enjoy hanging out with until the wee hours of the morning as well as who we can trust to do a superb job. To borrow the overused word from management consulting, we want to be proactive and to work with proactive people, in an environment that encourages and nourishes such behavior.

A friend wrote to me about my ranting yesterday, and described his own motivational issues. This was interesting and I am appreciative, but it brought to light the fact that I should perhaps qualify my statements yesterday such that it is clear that my lack of motivation is typically (and specifically yesterday was) a short-range thing, and not prone to prolongedness. Wow, that sentence is really long-winded and poorly written. Oh well, you can deal. :)

Isn’t life awesome? If you have questions or comments about having fun, being playful, and leading a happy life, feel free to drop me some science.