Book Reviews Games People Play by Eric Berne

Recently, i’ve been reading a book. It’s called “Games People Play”, and it’s by Eric Berne (M.D). It is a psychology book which deals with the way people interact with eachother without even thinking about it, and how people act with ulterior motives without even realising there are games to be played. It is a very good book, and I would recommend it to anyone who can get a hold of it and has even a passing interest in psychology. The part that interested me the most was the idea that we shouldn’t do things simply because we’re expected to do them that way, but because we, with our own moral codes, not the ones our parents would LIKE us to have, decide that those things are the right choices. It means being able to see things as you naturally would perceive them, not as you have been trained to perceive them by others.

For an example, I will call on Le Parkour and Freerunning. In freerunning, you no longer look at the world around you as you normally would. Rails are no longer there to restrain you, herd you down a line, enclose you, keep you in, or even to stop you from falling from a ledge. Walls stop being barriers, herding you through the landscape as the people who erected them would have you go. These things become oppotunities to create, to move differently, to experiment and explore. The objects created to confine us are used by people with the right mind set, practicioners of parkour, to create and innovate: almost the opposite of their original purpose.

This act of looking at things differently, known commonly as “Awareness” is central to the idea i’ve been entertaining recently, which also came from this book. I will now quote the final page, entitled “After games, what?”

“The sombre picture presented in Parts I and II of this book, in which human life is mainly a process of filling in time until the arrival of death, with very little choice, if any, of what kind of business one is going to transact during the long wait, is a commonplace but not the final answer. For certain fortunate people there is something which transcends all classifications of behaviour, and that is awareness; something which rises above the programming of the past, and that is spontaneity; and something that is more rewarding than games, and that is intimacy. But all three of these may be frightening and even perilous to the un-prepared. Perhaps they are better off as they are, seeking their solutions in popular techniques of social action, such as ‘togetherness’. This may mean that there is no hope for the human race, but there is hope for individual members of it.”

The main concept of this that I have been focusing on is awareness: knowing what is going on, being able to see people playing games, being aware of your surroundings. The anti-thesis of this, or opposite, would be someone walking along the road, shoulders hunched up, thinking not of the journey they are on, but instead of the goal of the journey. He pays no attention to his surroundings and gets nothing from the journey. Awareness would be a freerunner, aware and unaware at the same time, moving effortlessly, seeing the world around him, feeling the movements as he flows, like water, over, under the objects around him. He thinks not of the final destination, as in many cases, he doesn’t have one. He lives for the journey, not the end result.
And so I leave you with this to consider: Eric Berne seems to believe that the three things needed for true hapiness are awareness, which can be found simply by taking care to notice the world as much as possible, spontaneity, which means not having a fixed routine all the time, like so many adults have (Sleep. Eat. Work. Eat. Work. Home. T.V. Sleep. Repeat.), and finally intimacy, more commonly known as love, or the most amazing friendship. (A final note on intimacy: Intimacy is forgetting all social boundaries, all stigma attatched to conversation topics, all inhibitions and truly being yourself, while with another person, who is doing the same. This can be found normally through a great opposite sex relationship, but can, in certain cases, be found in very good friendships.)

I agree with this belief, and pray that at least one person changes their life for the better because of this article.

Quote of the day:

“If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.” – Bruce Lee

For further reading, see this article about awareness and spontaneity in relation to Bruce Lee, martial arts and parkour: a must read for anyone engaged by this article.