Tag Archive | Play

The Quality Game

Always do your best. (Miguel Ruiz)

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. (Henry Ward Beecher)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the Quality Game?”

“It’s a spiritual game, with a double meaning:

the game of playing every game well (Wisdom, Character, Moral Excellence)

the game of doing everything well (Mastery, Technical Excellence)

I like to think of them in aesthetic terms:

Play beautiful.
Do everything beautifully.


The Language of Play

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How can I practice Play?

To practice is to remember to practice. One aspect of the practice is to make Play more present in your mind. One way to do that is through language, by using words and phrases evocative of Play. I call the collection of all such words and phrases the Language of Play.

There are two aspects to it: 

– using existing words and phrases – identifying such words and phrases from your play history and using them more often
– creating words and phrases – playing with language to create words and phrases that remind you to play; we might call this languageplay

One type of such languageplay for instance involves substitution of various words with the word ‘play’.


pay => play
Paypal => Playpal (reddy2go [<link])

work => play
workout => playout

Another one involves adding ‘playful’ before various words:

Playful Awareness
Playful Learning

This a an instance of what I call Generative Play – playing with coming up with new ways to play.

On Play

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Does an activity have to be free for it to be play?”

“In any activity, even unfree ones, some things are within your control. Your area of control traces the boundaries of your play space.

Regardless of your circumstances, there’s always something you can play with.

The Templating Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

What do you mean by the templating [<link; medium read] game?

I mean playing with linguistic templates

One way to play is by creating templates. Whenever you notice a meaningful, recurring linguistic pattern, you turn it into a template. That is, you take the variable part of the pattern and turn it into a variable.

‘Variables’ as in those used in math?


For instance, here’s a familiar linguistic pattern: 

The art of living
The art of design
The art of donkey riding

‘The art of’ doesn’t change, but what comes after, does. So we can turn it into a template: 

The art of x

Another way to play is by taking a (general) template and generating (specific) instances.

For instance: 

Every x is an opportunity.

Every obstacle is an opportunity.
Every unwanted thought is an opportunity.
Every Monday is an opportunity.

And another way to play is by coming up with new ways to play with templates. I call this the game-making game.

On dealing with involuntary thoughts

Don’t believe everything you think.

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Our involuntary thoughts [<link; short read] constantly come and go, outside our control. Some are resourceful, others are not.

The involuntary thoughts we believe become our reality.

How can I stop believing the thoughts that don’t serve me?

Detach yourself from your involuntary thoughts. Notice them without judgment (Non-Judgmental Self-Awareness), in the same way you might watch the clouds in the sky. I call this practice, thought gazing.

Think of your involuntary thoughts as suggestions. 

Never take the first suggestion. Always consider multiple alternatives.

Let go of those that don’t serve you. Even better, play with them. Use them as creativity fuel, in the same way an improviser might use suggestions from the audience to craft a magical experience.

On Language and Beauty

The creation of language was the first singularity for humans. It changed everything. Life after language was unimaginable to those on the far side before it. (Kevin Kelly)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Language is one of the most powerful and beautiful technologies we possess. Language is our interface with reality and with one another. Language is a reality-shaping tool; it shapes both our inner and outer reality. Language unlocks a universe of possibility.

Language is a miracle. And, as with most miracles, we take it for granted.”

“Reminds me of a quote by G. K. Chesterton:

The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.

“We usually think of wonder in relation to the vast and the grand. Those are the obvious wonders. But most wonders are hiding in plain sight, patiently waiting for us to grow wiser.

Language is a beautiful game with three components:


We can think of the first one as the substance, and of the last two as the form.

Meaning is the heart of the game, and a universe in itself. Meaning is the fundamental playground of the Thinker.”

“Does this mean meaning is the most important?”

“There’s a beauty of meaning, a beauty of style, and a beauty of structure.

Structure is the rules of the game: syntax, grammar, and punctuation. Language is a modular game – a bit like Lego. Its elements can be combined in some ways but not others. Knowing the rules gives insight into the inner workings of the game, which can make you a better player.

Style is the beautiful expression of meaning, governed by its own set of rules: simplicity, clarity, brevity, expressiveness, resonance, rhythm, and maybe others I have yet to discover. Knowing these rules can also make you a better player.

A beautiful idea is beautiful regardless of style or structure. Structure and style make the idea communicable and impactful. How you express an idea matters. A beautiful idea expressed beautifully is more likely to have an impact on the world.

Ultimately, the game of language is a multiplayer game.”

The Daily Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What is the daily game?”

The game of making the day a work of art.

“How can I make the day a work of art?”

“I call the ideal day – however you conceive it for yourself –, the masterpiece day.

Get crystal clear on what the components that make up your masterpiece day are. 

What deeply meaningful things that are always within your control do you want to do every day?

Once you have the building-blocks, create a blueprint for your masterpiece day.”

“What if life gets in the way?”

The daily game is living your masterpiece day every day regardless of circumstances.

That’s why it’s important to base it only on things within your control.”

“What are the components of your masterpiece day?”

Growing and Giving [<link; very short read] – where Giving means both Love and Contribution.

Creating, Learning, and Moving.”

Life Patterns

What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits. (Carl Jung)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What current aspects of your life are an evolution of previous ones?”

“I’ve identified three major aspects:

Moving as a child

I love moving.

I used to love moving as a child. Running, jumping, climbing, creative physical challenges… I realize I was doing Parkour long before I knew Parkour existed. Discovering Parkour was actually a rediscovery. Parkour is an evolution of my playful childhood adventures, and something I see myself doing forever. As I like to say, ‘Traceur forever’.

Soul Quest: Parkour Mastery
Identity: MoverTraceurAthlete
Mantra: Move beautiful.

My gaming years

I love playing.

Video games have been an addiction for me for many years. Many people play games as a temporary distraction from the real world. For me, they were my reality. I lived in imaginary fantastic worlds, and the real world was a temporary distraction.

I left video games behind and finally discovered the game of my life: my own life. I call it The Beautiful Game [<link; medium read]. The game is a meta-game, which is made up of a myriad lower-order games. I engage in it as both a Player and a Designer.

Soul Quest: Playful Living – Life as Play
Identity: Dani, the Ever-Playful
Mantra: Play is destiny.

Thinking as passion

I love thinking.

I lived in my head most of my life. At some point, I jokingly remarked that if I were to visually represent what the world looked like for me, it would have been mostly empty space and curves of attractive women.

I’ve been playing with ideas for a long time – one of my favorite pastimes. I disregarded other areas of my life, but in the process I got pretty good at it.

The next level in my evolution as a Thinker is meta-thinking, a concept I created to describe the (practical) process of creating conceptual tools and deconstructing meaning. It also involves balancing Thinking with Awareness. I realized that in order to master Thinking I also need to master Non-Thinking, disengaging the mind.

Soul Quests: Thinking Mastery – becoming a Super ThinkerArtful Living – Life as Art
Identity: ThinkerLife-Artist, Explorer and Creator of Meaning
Mantra: Think beautiful.”

The Parkour Walk 2

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“The tube (underground train) in Bucharest is beautiful.”

“What do you like about it?”

“It forms a continuous moving path littered with human-obstacles. It’s a beautiful movement challenge.

Whenever I go by tube, I walk back and forth from one end to the other for the entire duration of the journey.


“You must be getting quite a few stares.”

“This is an integral part of the practice. It’s also a beautiful emotional challenge.”

The Juxtaposition Game

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How do you practice Creativity?”

“One way I like to practice is by playing a little game I call The Juxtaposition Game.”

“What’s it about?”

An important Creativity skill is the ability to generate random output.

There’s a practice I know from a TED talk called 3 random words – coming up with 3 random words in quick succession.

The Juxtaposition Game is a similar practice which I invented for myself, but with two random words instead of three.

The essence of Creativity is connecting things.

After I generate the words, I play with discovering connections between them – the goal is to discover as many connections as possible, both literal and metaphoric –, and to making up a little story including both. 

By viewing it through the lens of Humor, I practice Humor as well. The juxtapositions themselves can be funny, and/or the connections between them, and/or the story.”



This is a high-density practice. I practice randomness, making connections, storytelling, Imagination and Humor at the same time.”