The World of Active Engagement

Child playing in nature

Summer is finally here. To me summer is an invitation to take time off and have fun. It’s the season of sunshine and breaking from the seriousness of the rest of the year. It’s a license to be lazy … light … carefree.

No schedules or deadline—freedom to do whatever we want to do. If only I were five again to feel this way.

What would it take for you or me to experience summer as we did when we were kids?

The best place to start is to try and remember what summer felt like as a child. What are the things you enjoyed most? How did you feel? Can you capture the thrill of just being out of school and doing what you want?

Another world

Looking back at my childhood, one of my fondest memories was going to the beach early in the morning. There were few people around. We would swim to our heart’s content—don’t think I knew what contentment was; I always wanted more. I still can feel the waves crashing against my body, taste the salty water, most importantly I can feel the lightness of floating on water, no resistance, no worries. I was in another world.

I’m willing to bet whatever enjoyable memories you’ve had of your childhood, you felt the same—you were transported to another world.

As children we don’t do leisurely things—most children won’t know what leisure means. We don’t need to be entertained. We just need to do our thing. Then we become what we do. We live and breathe every moment of it. This is what I call active engagement.

When I was swimming, I didn’t view myself as a child in the water. I became a fish or an explorer on an adventure of a lifetime.

A little girl playing with her dolls doesn’t view it as play. She is part of the story. She’s the hostess and she serves pretty darn good tea in those tiny cups. The boy becomes the ninja, the warrior and the hero of his own movie.

When kids read a book or watch a movie, they don’t do it to escape. They do it because they’re alive. They are experiencing the story, living it with every fiber of their being.

The cost of adulthood

What happened to us adults? How did this joy mutate into the need to escape and avoid?

The left side of our brain took over. That’s what happened. We live in our analytical linear head most of the time. It’s also the side that holds all the gremlins of doubt, criticism and protectionism. Everything is black or white, right or wrong, safe or dangerous. Everything is orderly and has to fit into what we already know.

This is what stifles our imagination and kills our dreams.

The left brain is what’s responsible for things like: I can’t do this, I’m too old, what would people think of me, I’ll look ridiculous, I should know better.

How can we get out of that zone?

We need to allow our right brain to take over every now and then. It’s the carefree, crazy and creative side. The one that says “why not?” and “oh this should be fun”.

Make up your mind to do something and then do it without paying attention to the nagging voice of logic and normalcy—it’s buzz kill. Do it, breathe it, live it, savor it.

Actively engage not by forcing yourself to focus but by freeing your mind to wander and experience.

And when you open up your world, anxiety turns to excitement, and fear transforms to anticipation—the essence of childhood.

Spread the fun bug.

Fun is very contagious.

Start acting from your inner creative truth and see what happens. Other adults will be inspired to do the same. Start a joy movement with your family and friends.

Restore your aliveness and sense of wonder and curiosity. The most valuable contribution you have to offer is your highest joy—in every moment.

Why don’t you join me this summer and behave like a child?

Ride a bike, go to the beach, toss a Frisbee, fly a kite, set up a homemade tent and have tea under the sheets. Play with a hose. Make up a story and act it out. Laugh, sing and dance and make it as goofy as possible. Play with paint, make some noise. The messier and goofier, the better.

When someone says you’re acting like a child, smile and say thank you—it’s the best compliment anyone can offer you.

Life is really simple. The basic ingredients to have fun are your imagination and the desire to do so. From there you will create and experience magic—a rich world that’s uniquely yours.