One of the biggest obstacles we face in order to enjoy life is undoubtedly our obligations. Most of the time, we can’t even bring the word necessity and happiness together.
A large part of life is spent working and this working life is a necessity for many people. As such, happiness becomes a dream for people with such a point of view.
Philosopher Alan Watts was one of the most important people who contributed to the spread of Taoism by western civilizations. With his books, he has changed the perspective of many people and has had a direct impact on their practical thoughts in daily life.
Alan Watts who also has thoughts that change perceptions about “happiness in business life”, shared the key to happiness in this regard: Turn your job into a game to be happy.
Let’s take a closer look at his thought with the story he tells:
In our culture, there is a very sharp distinction between work and play.
You have to work because you have to earn enough money. So you have time for yourself. But this is completely different from what we might call a game or entertainment.
Imagine you are a bus driver. Bus drivers often come to mind as exhausted people. He must follow all the traffic rules: all the traffic, the cops, the people on the bus, holding steering wheel all day… If this bus driver has made up his mind that this is all a “job”, it will be terrible for him.
Now, let’s think of a driver who handles this the other way: Let him see driving through all this messy traffic as a game that needs to be very organized. Thus, the driver will feel just like a guitar player or a dancer. While passing through the traffic, it will flow like a water, bypassing all the obstacles. And with all this, a music will emerge. When he does this, he no longer feels tired at the end of the day, he feels completely energized for doing his job.
If you treat everything you do as a game and you don’t feel for a single minute that you have to take what you’re doing seriously, you open the door to happiness.
The art of washing dishes
You only need to wash the dishes once at a time. If you wash every day, what comes to mind will be the piles of dishes and other dishes you have washed in the past. Along with this, you will also think of the accumulated dishes that you need to wash in the future.
But if you bring your mind back to the world of truth, that is, only to the “now”: Here we are! There is only now. You only have “one” dish to wash. You only need to wash what is in front of you. You can ignore all the rest.
Because in reality there is neither a past nor a future. There is only now.
“Did I do it clean like my mom told me in an “angry voice”?” , “Is every point gone? Or she will be angry with me” rather than thinking this way; you can turn all this cleaning into a dance.
When I was in primary school in England, I had to learn to play the piano. They said “playing the piano”, but in fact they forced me to say it: “You have to play the piano”
In England they give “forced games” to children. They used to say, “Everybody’s going for a run this weekend.” If you do not run and this is noticed, you will be punished. That’s why everyone hated running.
Because everyone was under pressure to play: “Everyone has to play!”
Just like the life we are all a part of, life is just a game. Everyone has to be a part of it. That’s how we used to go for a run.
I remember one time I fell behind in a run because I had swelling in my foot and tried to enjoy it. A dance alone. The one behind me was running with great ambition on his heels, and there was a sound as he slammed his heels on the ground.
“What is the problem?” I said to him, “You’re shaking your whole body by doing this” and he kept doing it. He even became the inter-school long distance champion years later.
But he didn’t enjoy it, it was a job for him.
All he enjoyed was his pain, which made him feel like he was making a contribution to humanity. He reconciled his existence and meaning to his suffering.
Real great runners dance when they run.
They do not have to follow a single line. Likewise, if you had witnessed the world football championship in 1970, you would have seen that the champion team, Brazil, played the most extraordinary football. They played football like they were playing basketball. Their game was a dance. The football that was taught to me at school when I was a kid was very mundane and prescriptive. We didn’t even have fun. But these guys were dribbling the ball over them, using every muscle in their body, and putting on an amazing team game. They were also dancing to their games. A sports commentator from the London Times said:
“They danced on the road to victory.”
My point is this: You can do anything that you have to do by using this mindset. Don’t separate play and work!
Treat everything you do as a game, and don’t think for a minute that you have to take what you’re doing seriously.
Editor’s Note and Final Thoughts
Alan Watts created his system of thought largely by adhering to simplicity. Everything in life is a game for him and we should enjoy playing this game. Not just our work, our life is a game and there is only one winner in this game: The one who has the most fun playing.
If you want to investigate how old and important the word game is in human history, as a book recommendation, Johan Huizinga ‘s book Homo Ludens, He explains in a fluent language that the concept of play is a much greater necessity than we expected.