Usually I choose to write blogs about some interesting research I read, wellness trends, or neat herbs and supplements that my readers might find some benefit in. I feel that these are the things that I can filter down to my readers to pass on good information that will keep you all healthy and happy. Today though is going to be a little more like an op-ed, albeit in the same vein and with the same intent. It isn't based on research and it won't have you running to the store to buy a bottle of capsules, but hopefully it will bring you closer to a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life. I was very inspired this past weekend by a best friend, some skateboards, and a car full of teenagers. Let me explain...
It was a relatively uneventful weekend as far as having plans goes. Friday night we decompressed at home from the week, watching movies and eating coconut flour banana bread that my wife had made with vanilla ice cream. Saturday we got together with some friends, packed the kids onto the boat, spent some quality time swimming and playing in the water and then after a few hours dispersed the madness and went home, happy and satisfied about the plans we had made. It was as good as Saturdays typically get. But Saturday night something special happened...
Luckily for me, my best friend and I are one in the same when it comes to almost everything. We both love the water and almost any and every activity that you can do on it. We both love board sports and have spent most of our lives rolling, riding, or sliding on one form or another of board beneath our feet. Having not been able to wakeboard during the day with a boat full of kiddies and one pregnant wife, we still had some board energy to get out and decided to pack some cruiser style skateboards into the car and treat the local hill-laden shopping plaza parking lot like a late night ski slope.
It was beautiful. We skated around, pedaling fast, working up a refreshing rolling sweat and using our imaginations to draw fun new routes through the parking lot for around 2 hours, laughing and high-fiving the whole time. Though most of the stores were closed, there were still some late night stragglers hitting the local Starbucks and Burgerfi. Some of these passers-by watched inquisitively and some simply smiled as the obvious fun we were having spread to them contagiously. What were these two adults doing out having so much fun in a way usually reserved for teenagers? It was the most spontaneous fun that I can remember having for some time.
After we decided to call it a night and headed home we stopped at a stop light beside a car full of energized tweens and I couldn't help but get caught in the energy of the obvious fun that they were also having. I was automatically transported back to what adults often allude to as "simpler times" when often the only plan was to get together and see what happens. And that is when I honestly became a little jealous of them.
I wasn't jealous of their youth. I feel much more able and confident, and infinitely more intelligent and wise than I did as a young person. I was jealous of their effortless ability to be spontaneous, especially after just having had so much fun of my own without having planned it.
On Sunday another close friend sent me a message about having a bbq and hanging out in the pool for the afternoon. I had a list of things that I needed to get done and I thought about doing the comfortable thing, which would have been to say I had too much to do, and slowly make my way through the list while listening to pod casts all day. But, inspired by recent events, I decided to accept the invite, tear through my honey-do's, and go spend some time with a friend and his family whom I don't get to see that often. And I was so glad I did it.
As adults we are often loaded down by so many commitments that our default way to move through life is to schedule things or have some kind of plan. When you think of spending time with other people it always involves some type of plan that needs to be scheduled and prepared for.
If you are going out and doing a family thing the sunscreen, snacks, drinks and canopy have to be prepped and packed. If you are going out for a grown up night reservations have to be made, shirts have to be ironed, makeup has to be done. It is exhausting. And you know as well as I do that from time to time dear friends will want to get together and the thought of so much preparation compels you to make up an excuse not to.
Our spontaneous parking lot session and the effortless glow of a Saturday night tween car ride inspired me to make a call out to call adults and pose these questions...When was the last time you did something without a plan? When was the last time as an adult you said "just come over" to a friend like you did when we were kids? You don't need a reason or activity. Just come over...
Everything in the adult world has to be so planned. On the one hand it is how we get so much done, but on the other we lose a lot of our ability to be spontaneous. The meaning is in the word...plans. When was the last time you didn't plan anything? When was the last time you spontaneously went for a drive with your friends, just riding around, talking, and listening to music? When was the last time you just went over to a friend's house, with kids or without, and just had a hang? I'm betting it has been a while, and we could all use a little more of it.
If you have kids that can seemingly be another obstacle. We use our kids as an easy excuse to other people and ourselves to get out of things all of the time. We like to keep our kids on a routine and if they aren't in bed by 8:30 we lose our minds. So what if you put them down at 8:30 at a friend's house and mildly disturbed them to put them in the car on the way home? We all know babies and young kids sleep like rocks. Even if you do disturb them a little and they get a little less sleep one out of every 7 nights, isn't that just the way life goes? It won't be the end of the world.
Having a stress-free, no expectations, no plans experience with people you enjoy is seriously medicine both psychologically and physiologically. I am purposefully avoiding getting too scientific in this article but I can list a plethora of studies that show that meaningful social interactions have positive impacts on health and lifespan. I mean jeez, isn't that obvious? There is even a famous study that shows that having more close friends (no that doesn't include family) can extend life span up to 5 years. I just want to inspire you to do more of it, with more ease, and without appealing to that logical, adult side of you to get it done.
Sometimes the universe, or lets just call it life to avoid crunchy hippitude, lays the answers to our silly human conundrums out for us in plain site. We just have to be ready to see them. In this day, in this society, where we could all stand to decompress a little a lot more often, I want you all to practice getting in a good spontaneous hang from time to time. It will certainly improve your life in all of the grown up measurable ways, but more importantly, it will just make you feel good.