Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Vitality Enhancement

Originally posted on March 24, 2013

Aha! So that’s what I’m really about! I must confess, though, that this term is just a fancy way of saying “having fun.” Maybe in some circumstances we need to pretend to be a bit snooty to appease the demand for functionality, for higher purpose. But really, we don’t need an excuse.

If you think about it, much of the cosmos, much of life, happens because it’s innately pleasurable to do so. My favorite philosopher Alfred North Whitehead described the meaning of life: “To live, to live well, to live better.” There’s that value gradient—better! But often better just includes savoring the moment!

As for evolving, well, it’s more fun for us to be a together than for me to do it alone. So organisms combine into ever-increasingly complex structures, from one cell to many, and then many billions or trillions of cells. Dancing and singing together combines a bit of communion with activity.

I’ve been working at revising my Art of Play book, explaining why it’s okay to have fun. Our culture is unfortunately somewhat stifled by a fairly strong unconscious residue of Puritanism (i.e., “If it’s fun it can’t be good.”), and it takes some consistent discipline to re-train the mind to think in a more positive way.

Recognizing this need is part of the value of the emergence of a sub-field called Positive Psychology, which I think is a developed extension of Humanistic Psychology. Humanistic Psychology in turn arose to counter Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis, rat psychology and messed-up-baby psychology, and it explores what only more adult humans can do that cannot be achieved by either babies or rats— things like creativity, nurturance, intelligent analysis, etc.

The field I call Action Explorations, derived largely from Moreno’s psychodrama, also has an orientation to a kind of positive psychology, an openness to inspiration that Moreno called “spontaneity.” This is a major element that has yet to be fully integrated into psychology, but a lot of work on creativity, flow, and the like is building a bridge in this direction.

Anyway, the term “vitality enhancement” also has the function of stating that the end of having fun may be quite sufficient unto itself. Of course it can help with “therapy,” but then so can a good meal or more comfortable surroundings. The point really is that it doesn’t have to “help” with anything: Just enjoying life is a fine goal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *