I recently collected a few quotes on silliness –
“Children have one kind of silliness, as you know, and grown-ups have another kind.” (C.S. Lewis)
“[Silliness is] very, very, important. Very important. The other side of it is taking yourself terribly seriously. Which I think occasionally, you know, if you’re a brain surgeon, I wouldn’t want him to be silly when he’s doing the operation. But afterwards, if he wants to go laugh around that’s fine. There’s got to be a silly side to all of it.” (Michael Palin)
“Mix a little foolishness with your prudence; it’s good to be silly at the right moment.” (Horace)
“Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.” (Christopher Morley)
I have posted here in the past a couple of times about making funny faces to yourself in the mirror in the morning as you get ready for your day. Doing that provides a short break in the seriousness of your day and lets your mind reset into a more neutral mode. You cannot be like Palin’s brain surgeon during surgery all of the time. Taking a moment to be silly also allows us to be free, if just for that moment, of our self-imposed unanimity as adults – we can do something that is not being done because we think it is what is expected of us.
Because I think it is critical to our mental health that we retain an ability to be silly from time to time. As C.S. Lewis said, children have a different kind of silliness, one that is uncensored by concerns of what others may think. As we grown up we are conditioned by society to suppress our urges to be silly. We are forced to conform more and more to the more serious norms and expectations of society. We are told to “act like a grownup”, which usually means with great seriousness. However, I think some of these quotes get it right – it is important to we find some time and ways to be silly, even as adults.
Some of the quotes that I collected, but chose not to use, substituted the word “foolish” for the word “silly”; but, I thought about it, that word is too close to “foolhardy” to be comfortable for me. Being foolish has a connotation of being stupid in it, at least in my mind. It is that connotation that seems to apply to shows like Jackass, where the actions are sometimes dangerous and almost always stupid, instead of just silly. Being silly does not have to be dangerous.
So, give yourself a mental break from the serious business of being an adult and find a way to be silly today. Make a funny face in your mirror while getting ready in the morning or allow yourself a little chuckle at something that maybe only you find funny during the day. Have your moments of silliness during the day. Others may say (or think), “Oh, that’s just silly”, and that’s OK; that’s the point. Being silly will provide the little mental breaks that you need to keep you sane.
Never lose your ability to be silly.