Sometimes think that if I have children I will make them do everything that I am afraid to do. I will build a perfect version of myself inside them. Then I realize that I don’t really want them to be able to do these things, but rather that I want to do these things. The reason I project it on my children is because I am afraid to do these things myself and if I did these things it would be the most fulfilled thing in the world. I wake up. I start doing things that I want my children to do, trying to become an example for other people, rather someone who forces other people to do what I could not do.
Indeed, as babies we start our lives defined only by biological information, developing all our good and bad habits only later in life, with psychologists like Sigmund Freud claiming that first few years of human life that contribute most towards development and that during rest of our lives we spend unlearning all these bad behaviors learned we learned in the first few years.
We start playing with airplanes, dolls and other toys, which help us towards understanding shapes, functionality and the meaning of things, which are fundamental towards of becoming fully functioning human beings. Games provide a map for discovering how the world works, with many children psychologists agreeing that for children play is a form of work.
Learning is enjoyable, as evolutionary we know that it lead to survival, as newly acquires skills may prove to be fundamental later in life. Games build us almost in every way, be that psychologically, emotionally, intellectually sociologically and physiologically, providing us with sensitivity towards threats and opportunities to come. The process is similar to found in animal kingdom whereby attacking each other young lions learn how to hunt. No one tells them what they are doing. They just figure it out for themselves. For humans, on the other hand, a reminder is often necessary. We play because we are learning essential skills for our lives. As soon as a skill is mastered, some games become obsolete. Take for example, Monopoly. It is a fairly easy game to understand and master. After playing it several times, no extraordinary new learning comes by playing it again, so ideally we could stop.
Eventually people get convinced that they are getting older, mature and grown up, which is why they stop playing. But while we may outgrow certain games and certain toys, other more complex toys and games become available and learning is forever continuing. It is not like a person finishes his university and they stop learning.
This is an important distinction because today we have whole industries targeted at adults, which treat adults as children. And while not every adult will buy a video game, I constantly see adults with game apps installed on their smart phones. It is this aspect of stimulation called “fun” or “pleasure seeking” that leads us through life. Make it fun, exciting and cool and people will line up to have it. Some advertisers create puzzles, games or small challenges, which people have to complete before they have access to a product. A game can be as easy as to choose a color, which alone can increase chance to open wallet. It not that as children people wanted to have fun and when they grow up this need goes away. Marketers long realized this and are selling directly to our inner child. This kid may be dormant and invisible in certain parts of lives, but can reappear in other parts.
Life is a game, which some people forget, taking it too seriously, forgetting to enjoy it. Especially at work, there is a lot of “professional” and “serious” talk. But all work is means to an end. Most people start working because they want to get money to buy things that will make them happy, but as time goes by and money starts to flow in, it is imperative to find a job that is also fulfilling. After all work is a game in its own right.
Maturity in this respect is not related to seriousness, but to a skill, which was mastered. And as soon as one skill is mastered there are many more to learn, playing the game of life until we get what we want or we are dead, never forgetting that life is dynamic meaning that what we want today may change tomorrow. And while it may be hard to do something today we can always remind ourselves of a time when we were babies and everything was possible. If we managed to learn bad behaviors, certainly I can learn a good behavior as well. So instead of pretending to be mature, intellectual and upright “normal” it is better to embrace the inner child, which will guide our life one way or another.