The five P’s of the Type P Personality are: Personal goal-driven; Positive; Proactive; Persistent; and Playful. When I explain my theory to patients and colleagues, I don’t get much quibbling about the first four, but I’ve run into quite a few doubters about the importance of playfulness. It’s an argument that I am happy to pursue because I’m usually successful in winning converts to my way of thinking about this topic.
When I developed the concept of the Type Personality, I observed the behaviors of successful people and found that those who prioritized playfulness in their daily lives were happier about their place in the world compared with those who were “all work and no play”. Including playfulness seemed to enable people to be more satisfied with their accomplishments.
There are two elements to playfulness – and both are important. The first involves building in time for fun in your daily schedule – or at least several times a week. Playfulness should not occur by default. There should be scheduled time to enjoy hobbies, concerts, spectator or participatory sports, and down time with family and friends who are also committed to having fun. The planned aspect doesn’t detract from the fun. In fact the opposite is often true; watching TV mindlessly because nothing else has been planned is really not fun.
An equally important aspect is the development of a philosophy that is oriented toward being playful and enjoying yourself as you go through your normal cycle of work, family life, and personal development. Admittedly it’s easier to have fun if you are not in a job that you hate or if you don’t have debilitating headaches or other significant medical conditions. It is important, however, to start with the understanding that playfulness is important just as having personal goals is important and persistence is important. If any of the five P’s is not part of your behavior repertoire, it’s important to examine why – and then work toward changing the internal attitude or external condition that is standing in the way of maximizing your emotional potential. If you are in an unpleasant work or relationship situation or have a serious medical condition that limits your playfulness, actively work toward changing the situation so that you can look forward to being more playful in the future.
One of the first things we learn to do successfully as children is to play. It’s a lesson that emotionally healthy adults haven’t forgotten.
As always, your comments are welcome.