Happy Endeavors

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Searching for Silly

Start with a Google image search for "silly." You will find people making funny faces who look like they are having a good time. By definition, being silly means showing a lack of common sense or judgement. Being absurd and foolish is the opposite of practical and efficient, but is it a time waster?

Published on: May 5, 2021
Topics included: fun | playfulness | silly
man walking like a crab

Which of these photos is the silliest? 

man walking silly
lady posing like a deer
man holding boy above head

All of them!

It is easy to recognize silly.  People who are showing a lack of common sense or judgement. Absurd and foolish behavior is easy to spot. Some say it isn’t practical, productive, or efficient. So do they ever get anything done?

According to Rene Proyer, Professor of Psychology at Martin-Luther Univ. Halle-Wittenburg in Germany, playful people are productive. They possess the following traits:

  • novel problem solvers
  • calm stress managers
  • consistent emotional stabilizers
  • new experience seekers

Sounds good. How do I become more playful? Proyer has identified four categories of playfulness: Other-directed, Light-hearted, Intellectual and Whimsical. Read the descriptions below to see which one you most closely identify and exploit this on your next opportunity.

Playful people see potentially stressful events in a less threatening manner and more of a positive challenge.

Dr. Nick Kuiper

Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology, University of Western Ontario

silly boy


You prefert to play with others

Examples: Pranks, creating skits, and playing improv games.


Life’s routines = a game

Example: Red light challenge: Count the # of red objects in your field of view. Try to beat # that at the next red light.


Self amusement through thoughts, ideas and challenges.

Examples: Creating rhyming birthday poems, writing jokes, making up songs


You are entertained by daily observations

Examples: That cloud looks like a teddy bear, talk with an accent, walk silly

The willingness to do silly things, to be playful, can be like saying, “We are going to relax the constraints of the world.”

Janet M. Gibson

Cognitive Psychologist, Grinnell College

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