The world flipped. But no one told you.

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Picture this: You’re a nomadic human, minding your own business, and suddenly you spot a bear or perhaps an angry tribesman from the next valley brandishing a club. What do you do? Run? Fight? Freeze? Thanks to our ancestors, we’ve inherited this nifty stress response perfectly tuned to deal with such life-or-death situations.

Fast forward a few millennia, and while we no longer have to evade bears on our way to the local coffee shop, our stress response is still on high alert. But here’s the quirky part: instead of external threats, nowadays, the “bears” and “tribesmen” often lurk within our own minds. The world has indeed flipped, but it seems our internal wiring didn’t get the memo.

In today’s age, according to polyvagal theory, our stress triggers are often not physical threats but a myriad of internal and external pressures: a looming work deadline, social comparison on social media, or even just overthinking a casual remark from a colleague. We react as though these are imminent dangers, ready to pounce on us. Quite exhausting, isn’t it?

Enter playfulness: our secret weapon against the modern-day “bears.”

Being playful allows us to engage with these stressors differently. Instead of viewing challenges as threats, what if we saw them as puzzles, awaiting our ingenious solutions? Playfulness nudges us to be curious, to question the narratives we tell ourselves, and to approach problems with an open mind. It’s like giving yourself permission to try on different hats, experiment with various viewpoints, and explore new solutions without the fear of judgment.

What if, instead of imagining the worst-case scenario every time our boss wants a chat, we were simply playful and curious? A playful perspective is like having a friendly, inquisitive sidekick, always urging you to see the lighter side of things and explore without constraints.

Yes, the world has changed. We aren’t fleeing from predators, but we’re navigating a jungle of thoughts, emotions, and modern-day pressures. While the setting has shifted, the principles remain: Stay alert, be adaptable, and most importantly, have fun along the way.

So, next time you feel your stress levels rising, take a moment. Breathe. Picture that bear, give it a playful wink, and tackle the challenge ahead with a curious and open heart. The world may have flipped, but armed with playfulness, we’re more than ready to cartwheel along with it. Stay playful, my friends! And keep an eye out for our next post where we continue this delightful journey of rediscovery.

Chris Marshall

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