People who persistently maintain a serious attitude tend to think that those around them are far too frivolous. Those who have a strong sense of whimsicality, on the other hand, tend to think that everyone is takes everything far too seriously. Which of these two viewpoints are right? The answer is that there is no singularly correct way to live one's life and there are benefits to opening one's self up to both points of view—in fact, I praise the both of those virtues on this site. Like I mentioned elsewhere, part of your job is to determine which values and value system works best for you and to include those ideas and philosophies into your life in a responsible, respectable manner.

That being said, a life without whimsy seems to be a life without and fun or true serenity, and a life taken seriously is found is serious straights when faced with calamity. A person who is able to taken on the attributes of whimsicality will be able to roll with the punches and have an easier time to find meaning in life by simply living it. In my opinion, while most people could benefit from being having a little seriousness in their lives, everyone will benefit from including whimsy in every day.

Whimsicality refers to one who is doesn't feel the need to take everything they do and all that happens to them in full seriousness. As a virtue, this is a great defense against the ego that develops from one who earnestly believes that the world hinges upon whether things happened as planned or whether your day went without any setbacks or offense. A person with whimsy is supposed to be open to the fact that setbacks and embarrassments are all a part of the package of living life, and if one is supposed to enjoy the time they have then they better well learn to happily live through even the less pleasant days (and months). People who have whimsy are also open to more impractical, spontaneous adventures. Some people like to fit every activity they do into a "reasoned" ideology before they permit themselves to go on with it, but a person of whimsy will be more likely to bend the rules by talking a drive up a mountain for no good reason, or by trying out some extremely exotic food.

While it is possible to take whimsy too far, as long as you remain unselfish and attuned to the other virtues of living a good life this usually won't be a problem for most people. Whenever you use any idea or virtue as an excuse to commit poor behavior, you turn something that has potential good and benefit into a terrible vice, so never do something hurtful or harmful in the name of "letting go" and make sure that you budget time and money for your responsibilities as well as for your excursions.

Building personal whimsy depends simply on practice embodying with the character and personality traits that one would inhibit this virtue. There are also a few virtues in this set and others that could help improve your ability to experience this trait—to give one strong example from the Aesthetic Virtues, Wittiness. Having wit inherently means being able to take life less seriously in order to enjoy laughter in your daily life (and growing a sense of whimsy will also help your wit, while helping ensure that your humor doesn't accidentally become too "mean").

I have included some activities below that will help your work on and improve your whimsy. Only you, however, know about all those things and subjects in your life that you've been taking too seriously, or those things you've been too nervous or tense to try. Take these ideas and come up with your own while you keep one goal in mind: loosen up!


  • Keep a Perspective Journal: Like every journal you've ever heard of, include the bad things (as well as the good) that happened to you during the day. After each recitation of the day's negative events, however, write down a list of all the other things you still have to live for and enjoy. If your spouse did something that annoys you, for instance, write down the things your relationship does for you that make these negative events smaller on your mental horizon. If there is nothing you can say to make some event or occurrence seem insignificant, you might have to simply remind yourself of one or more of these simply truths as applicable:
    • "There is nothing I can do about this, and there is far too much more to live for."
    • "If avoiding this scenario or pain is going to consume my life, than maybe it shouldn't be my priority."
    • "Well, so much for that failure. On to the millions of other things I can accomplish."
    • "I can't change the past. Time to get back to work on the future."
  • Keep a Whimsy Journal: This is a personal journal in which you simply remind yourself to record your day's events in the light of whimsy. Try to see the humor in little set-backs and embarrassments. Try not to take slights so seriously. If you keep this up, you might actually adopt these viewpoints more easily and automatically. This activity works especially well if you plan whimsical and spontaneous activities that you can record.
  • Include Spontaneity in Your Life: And by spontaneity, I don't mean make stuff up as you go, but do things on occasion that don't "fit in the plan," or that you usually wouldn't allow yourself to do. Include at least one small spontaneous activity everyday and one spontaneous adventure every week. Small activities could include dancing to your radio or mp3 player, suprise-tickling a friend, calling an old buddy, picking a flower for the spouse/loved-one, etc. An adventure doesn't need to take an entire day or be costly, but it should include things you usually wouldn't allow yourself to do, but have always been curious about trying. Otherwise, you can spontaneously enjoy something you don't take the time for anymore!
  • Never Dismiss Humor if Appropriate on Any Level: Some people don't permit themselves to laugh at their own folly, or to accept the folly in others. If you have an opportunity to laugh at yourself or receive an invitation to do so, do NOT reject it out of hand. If you are tempted to do so, then give in to the temptation! Little is so serious or so dark as to not deserve a snicker every once in a while, even you!
  • Work on Wittiness: If you just take things too seriously and everyone seems willing to laugh at things that just rile you up, you might want to stop and work on your wit.
  • Work on Forgiveness: You can't be light-hearted and unserious if you are constantly tallying the wrongs and evils that everyone commits against you on a day-to-day basis. Stop taking yourself so seriously that every offense to your person or to your goals is unforgivable on religious proportions. Forgive yourself too, while you're at it.
  • Never Dismiss a Silly Urge: Or even consider silliness a virtue if you think that's appropriate. Silly thoughts and ideas are a sign that you have a healthy sense of the absurd and are willing to take everything in a whimsical light. Play and joke with children if you want, as they often have an unhindered sense of this character trait.

Your Record

If you take offense to something that wasn't intended to be offensive, and you know that another soul might have shrugged it off, then mark yourself at fault. If you let yourself go crazy at the merest set-back, or you are unable to lift your mood after one, then mark yourself at fault. If you suppress an opportunity to laugh at yourself, then mark yourself at fault. Make goals based on the activities above and on your own ideas. Mark yourself at fault if you fail to live up to your plans or goals.


The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even, if you will, eccentricity. That is, something that can't be feigned, faked, imitated; something even a seasoned imposter couldn't be happy with.

Joseph Brodsky, Russian-Born American Writer and Poet

Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.

Vaclav Havel, Former President of Czechoslovakia and Playwright

It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.

Oscar Wilde, Irish Playwright, Novelist, and Poet

Golden Mean


Recommended Reading

Nine Thousand Miles To Kansas: Finding Humor Amid the Potholes Along the Road of Life — by by Eleanor Scown

This author writes about her experience of being moved from California to Kansas for the sake of her husband's job, where she learned how to laugh and find humor in day to day life.

The Silly Mind: Learning to Take Life 'More or Less' Seriously — by David R. Lima and Donald N. Scobel

This book might offend people who do believe in universal truths, but looking at the absurdity of your own ideas, like this book suggests, can do a lot to help you overcome a lot of your anxiety and stress.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

It can be taken as seriously as you want or as whimsically as you want. Paul Busse