Remember the days when everything could be turned into a game? Our imaginations ran wild and instead of swinging a wiffle ball bat in the backyard, we were Derek Jeter at a packed house in Yankee Stadium. Instead of passively listening to our grade school science teachers, we were digging up dinosaur skeletons or orbiting the earth in space. Instead of worrying about our next career moves, we were doing what we loved because it was fun and happiness overwhelmed us. Somewhere between blissfully being kids ready to take on anything and becoming adults terrified to run off Netflix, we lost ourselves. Now, we yearn for happiness. We used to just be and just do; now, every decision we have to make sends us into a panic. Author, blogger and speaker James Altucher discusses in his Ted talk, "Choose Yourself," that kids laugh approximately 300 times a day, but adults only laugh about five times a day. He then questions, "What happened?" In an episode of the "Art of Charm" podcast, guest speaker Jairek Robbins references how adults celebrate grand moments and accomplishments by consuming a depressant: alcohol. By doing so, we mentally remove ourselves from the present moment and deteriorate physically. His point is that instead of organically enjoying life's treasures and the company of family and friends, we're engaging in a counterproductive activity masked in temporary happiness. Try explaining that concept to our 8-year-old selves. Altucher, Robbins and similar figures are spreading the message of embracing the present moment and our surroundings. Technology and insecurities pull us out of these situations, which actively disengage our minds with toxic behaviors. Nowadays, our environment is irrelevant to us. Whereas that backyard was once a world of infinite possibilities, it is now just the section of dirt and grass behind our houses. Somewhere between puberty and becoming regulars at the local watering hole, we replaced our imaginations with the one of the programmer in our iOS apps. There are people we can learn from who managed to hold onto the pleasures of their wildest dreams. Musicians, writers, artists, magicians, comedians, photographers, designers, chefs and entrepreneurs are among the many who hone their crafts to ignite the creative spark. These are the people who adhere to Marc Ecko's authenticity formula that he describes in his book, "Unlabeled." "Authenticity is equal to your unique voice, multiplied by truthfulness, plus your capacity for change, multiplied by range of emotional impact, raised to the power of imagination." By being authentic to themselves and their creative spirit, these people are able to make some kind of connection with their audience and bring happiness in doing so. There are organizations and companies that embraced the creative spirit to allow people to latch on to the spirit that made them ecstatic as kids. There's Google, which famously allows engineers to dedicate an hour of their day to work on any project their heart desires. There's Zappos, where employees are wholeheartedly encouraged to be weird (in the best way possible). There's Apple, which focuses on simple and elegant design. These elements of building a creative and fulfilling atmosphere are embedded in the roots of these companies. Now, do you have to go back to endlessly watching "Rugrats" and "Rocket Power" on Nickelodeon all day to experience this euphoria? Do you have to go back to playing cops and robbers with all of the neighborhood kids to reengage yourself to reality? Not necessarily, but it's the unassuming, fun spirit and insatiable appetite for life that we should bring back. What we got right as kids was innocently enjoying what we did in the present and spinning boring, callous situations into expansive dream worlds. Somewhere between being a kid and growing up, we forgot about this simple concept and let life get in the way. Go do something you shamelessly love to do. To skew the legendary words of the late Steve Jobs, stay foolish and enjoy every second of it.
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