When I’m delivering workshops I like to mess with enlighten the participants by asking two key questions:
#1. What is one activity you love to do—that thing that sweeps you off your feet, makes you feel fully engaged and alive, makes you lose track of time and self-consciousness (a la flow)?
#2. When was the last time you did that thing?
How would you answer those two questions?
“How could you have stopped birdwatching when I look this good?”
Here’s how this usually goes down:
People light up when they share “that thing”—whether it’s skateboarding, playing the ukulele, writing the Great American Novel, birding, fixing roofs for Habitat for Humanity, building intricate train sets, coding HTML, you name it.
When I ask the second question, the energy changes in the room. At last un-scientific count, 79.3% of people haven’t done “that thing” in a while. Months. Years—sometimes even decades.
One of the leaders at a retreat I led in LA said it thrilled him to do improv—it was the thing he felt most talented at, the thing that swept him up in the current of aliveness. His answer to the second question . . . when he had done it last? Almost 10 years. (You can bet his team pounced all over him and by the end of the retreat he had committed to a full-on improv extravaganza.)
Sometimes we love things and set them aside because we’re swamped; that 5:30 pm hot yoga class is going to take a backseat until your busy season at work is over, for example. That’s okay, as long as you pick it back up and start sweating in weird poses in a room full of other people again when the work returns to normal.
Sometimes we love activities and have to press the extenda-pause button because of life circumstances. Having a newborn might put a wrench in your beermaking classes for a bit, for example (geez, sorry). Losing your job might put your vintage car collection hobby on hold until the funds start to flow again. That’s all okay, as long as you get back on the beermaking horse and car-collecting wagon when the circumstances change.
I must bust myself: I love, love, love (yes, three loves) playing practical jokes. I love nothing more than cackling out loud as I hatch a plan to screw with the people I love. And yet I rarely make time for this, even though it provides immediate joy (widening vitality in the moment) and long-term memories to savor with the victim (deepening meaning that goes the distance). I commit, here on this webpage, to potentially compromising my friendships by being a more regular prankster, in an effort to live more fully.
If you’re feeling a bit busted for letting your hobbies and good times and pranks and healthy rituals and whatever else you love to do languish, put the final nail in the coffin by re-reading my post on the Power of Rekindling Your Good Intentions. This might push you over the edge to re-activate the things that make you feel alive . . . because is that not what we’re aiming for? To maximize the living and minimize the dying?
What might you want to commit to doing more of in service of living with more life in your life, while you still have a life to live? When can you make time for your extra-alive-inating activity? If you’re already making time for it, can I be bold and ask if your life might be better if you made even more time for it?
And if you want to join forces on a practical joke, you know who to call.
P.S.: Connect with me onInstagram for instant aliveness.
P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!