Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
16 Jan

16 Things You Should Have Never Stopped Doing

Don't Stop!As children, we live closer to our instincts. Yes, there’s the humorous and rather unfortunate side to this – like the time you ate an entire bag of Twizzlers and threw up all over your great-aunt’s carpet. In addition to the plethora of bad decisions (as if adults don’t make those too), however, there’s the extravagant daring and that amazing, irrepressible exuberance.

As adults, we might know better than to gorge on dye #40, but we’re tripped up by other things. We become distanced, detached from our instincts. The responsibilities, the schedule, the expectations surrounding our culture’s take on maturity can cast us out of the land of exuberance. It’s like we get gradually diverted to a boring Interstate stretch after traveling the scenic route. The road is efficient, utilitarian and might have nicer rest stops, but it often feels like a major letdown. What does it take to find our way back to the panoramas? What are the things we never should’ve stopped doing in the first place? I hope you add your own to the list. Let me throw out a few I’ve been thinking of today.

Climb – anything.

In addition to the workout, there’s something about the vantage point of height. Sitting in a tree, for example, you see the world and your problems differently for a short time. Once you’re on solid ground again, reality settles back in, but you’re different for having lived that time in a novel perspective. Find a favorite tree, a place you can sit on your roof, or build yourself a treehouse. Yes, it’s for you. Why not?

Jump in puddles (or snow mounds).

We adults get too fussy about weather. Our idea of inclement weather increasingly expands until we talk ourselves out of enjoying the vast majority of days. Invest in some real rain gear like you had when you were young (or just write off the need to stay dry altogether). Get out there and relish the bad weather like the amusement park it used to seem like. The novelty only wore off when we lost our imagination to make it so.

Play in the sand, dirt, mud, creek, lake, etc.

In other words, make a disgusting mess of yourself. Indulge/immerse for the all-important microbes, the sensory feast, and the subversive act of it. (It’s the ultimate snub to society’s confines.) Why do we take such pride, for example, in driving around a mud encrusted SUV? The real adventure is getting yourself caked in muck.

Eat food right off the plant/out of the dirt.

Speaking of soil… If children today even demonstrate so much as a musing to pick an apple off a tree, five parents rush over panicked yelling “Let me wash that for you!” Those of you who grew up in the 70s or earlier were probably running the neighborhood and your parents had no idea what you were up to. Left to their own devices, you probably ate any number of produce items pulled directly from the bushes, trees, and dirt (as well as worms, bugs, and other dare worthy items). You were meant to eat your fair share of dirt then. Take the chance to enjoy the same Primal goodies now.

Tell the truth.

Yeah, kids will give away the farm in any conversation while the parents bury their heads in mortification. It’s in kids’ natures to put it all out there, of course. They don’t mean any harm. As we get older, we become more tactful, we tell ourselves, more discreet and sensible, but I think there’s something we tend to give up in the process. Maybe we bury our own feelings too much. Maybe we don’t speak out against what our conscience tells us because we’re afraid of offending others, not fitting in, rocking the boat. While I don’t think anyone should give up on basic respect and reasonable limits, there’s a certain freedom in letting our emotions and true selves rise closer to the surface as they did when we were kids.

Let go of grudges.

As Crista noted in the comment section of last week’s 10 Habits of Highly Successful Hunter-Gatherers, kids are the perfect example when it comes to fix it and forget it. Forgive and move on. There’s just not enough time for bitterness when you know Mom is going to call you for dinner in two more hours. Why give up the chance for fun and risk missing out on anything good?

Test limits.

Remember pedaling as furiously as you could just to see how fast your inner superhero could go? How about jumping again and again to get higher and higher, to reach this branch and then that one. Childhood was like a never ending quest to see how brave we were. Why did we ever let go of that instinct or at least confine it into the tiny space of a career function or other “acceptable” trial? We’re clearly missing out. So go ahead. Throw a tennis ball at the wall of your house and see how many hundred times you can catch it. Run as fast as you can just for the sheer amusement of it. See how many Big Wheels you can jump over. Trust me, it’s just as important as what you had planned for the day.

Daydream.

Remember staring at the trees or just out the window for long stretches as a kid? We thought big thoughts or maybe just examined the pattern of scratches on the sill. We’d do well to give ourselves the same mental leisure once in a while. Not only is it relaxing, it can morph into its own flow state when we can be at our most creative.

Move spontaneously.

The daughter of a friend of ours is the perfect example. At six years old, she’s still in that “living fabulous” phase (which every parent hopes will never end). She sings at frequent and random parts of the day. She runs and leaps and dances at whim whether she’s in a grocery store, on the beach, at school, or at home. How do we lose that? Remember the days before self-consciousness set in? When did we stop doing what feels good in the moment? Even if you can’t bring yourself to dance at your work station (although I’ve known plenty of fun people who do), let loose at home and consider trying some Parkour, Zumba, or other way to get you moving differently for your workouts. It’s a start.

Go to bed early.

Sure, we all whined and belly ached about it, but in ten minutes we were out like lights. Play hard, sleep hard. The early turn-in did more than give our parents some peace and quiet. There’s truth to the adage, an hour before midnight is worth two after. It has to do with our circadian rhythms and the pattern of deeper sleep. We stay up late to carve out more personal time or to get more done, but we’d be better off hitting the sack early and dialing back the alarm clock by an hour or two. No one loves getting up early, but we’d be better rested throughout the day as a result. We’d also enjoy a lot less stressful and more productive beginning to the day.

Laugh early and often throughout the day.

Spend a day around young kids, and you’ll lose count of how many times they yuck it up in a day. They’ll laugh for minutes on end at the simplest, even most inane things. And I’m not talking one of the polite chuckles we adults often grant each other in conversation. The old “Chicken butt” joke alone elicits round upon round of riotous belly laughs. Sure, we might need more incentive than the average four-year-old, but why don’t we prioritize laughter more? There are the laughter yoga groups, yes, but how many hilarious books, stand-up, and movies are out there? Who are the friends and acquaintances with the personalities and stories to keep you laughing for hours? Your cardiovascular system needs these folks. It flourishes with the entertainment.

Read.

How many of us stayed up late with flash lights under the covers to read our favorite books? (Okay, so we didn’t always get to sleep right away.) It was easy to get swept up then in imagining other worlds. Maybe it was because we’d likely seen so little of the world at that point. Picking up a good book today can be a therapeutic escape from the day or a reminder to get out and make more of life.

Play games.

Somehow kickball never got old as a kid. Neither did Frisbee or ping pong or just about any other game. The movement, the challenge, the competition, the humor, the adrenaline of it all kept our enthusiasm running at full speed for hours. As an adult these days, a whole game can seem like such a commitment. We guard our time “responsibly” but too often go and blow it on the Internet (present blog excluded) or other media. Sometimes we even seem to sit uncomfortably with it, unwilling to commit to a real activity because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop and another chore to appear. Free time should be quality time. Take a leap of faith and commit to a board game. Even better, find out how much more fun tug-of-war is in the snow. Play some hockey on the ice at the corner park, or do relays in the backyard with the kids.

Create.

We were at a cabin a few months ago with a larger group. One friend is an art teacher and kept the kids absolutely enthralled by building small houses with all the wood, rocks, flowers, and leaves they could find. The result – and his enthusiastic example – were impressive. Unless we’re in a creative profession, we tend to give that side of ourselves short shrift as adults. Exercising our creativity can help us hone our identities as we get older and celebrate new stages of our lives. Other times it just feels good.

Skip meals (when there’s something more exciting to be enjoyed).

Remember how crushed you were when it was time to come in for lunch/dinner/errands/school/etc. when you and your friends were just getting to the best part of your play? You were on the very edge of a full-blown revelation, the cusp of some great and grandiose scheme that was sure to propel you all toward some amazing success. You know the benefits of intermittent fasting, but it doesn’t have to be the formal, preplanned routine we often make it. If you keep life busy and spontaneous enough, you just might find plenty of opportunity to fit in fasting without ever thinking about it.

Stay outside until the last possible minute.

Why do we impose such early curfews on ourselves? Didn’t we all swear up and down that when we grew up we’d stay out as long as wanted (foot stomp added for emotional emphasis)? Imagine what would be possible if we opened up several more hours to relish the outdoors? Sure, we might miss the benefits of the sun, but the evening and night offers their own rhythms we can enjoy. They inspire different moods, different activities, different adventures. Why limit our outdoor lives?

Next one – your turn. What are the things you think we should’ve never stopped doing? Thanks for reading today, everybody. Share the stuff you refuse to outgrow, and have a great weekend.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Such a great post. I agree totally. I can say, this Aussie 45 year old does air guitar and dance with the broom and vac when being domestic.

    Erin wrote on January 16th, 2013
  2. Screw going to bed early

    State Smashin Caveman wrote on January 16th, 2013
  3. That’s pretty good, Mark.

    Txomin wrote on January 16th, 2013
  4. Dodgeball. Tag. Whiffleball. Building ramps and jumping your bike to see who got the most air time. I rode my bike everywhere. My dad was always repairing it and replacing the tires.

    James Earl Hunter wrote on January 16th, 2013
  5. I’ve never had an Alpine strawberry from the garden make it into the house! Nom-nom in the garden is a great thing!So is playing ukulele, singing, dancing, blowing bubbles at the kitten, bean bag toss, and reading. Yay life!

    Debra wrote on January 16th, 2013
  6. Do a lot of these at once by running around like an idiot in your underwear!

    Chris wrote on January 16th, 2013
  7. Remember the inability to sit still for more than a few minutes? I think TV kills this in kids these days, but I watch my young cousins and they can’t stay in one spot! Always moving around talking to different people and doing different things. Simple but effective!

    Cledbo wrote on January 16th, 2013
  8. And this for girls especially; singing while looking in the mirror with that magical hair-brush microphone! No concern with pitch, weight, hair~~just gloriously pretending you’re a STAR with the world at your feet! (and no need to be a
    Britney Spears look-a-like).

    Gail wrote on January 16th, 2013
  9. Love the post……roll down a grassy hill.

    maverickjames wrote on January 16th, 2013
  10. I agree with everthing in the article! I think that is why I do mud runs and let things go nowadays when my boys eat off the ground sometimes. As far as school, it is sad that kids cannot have as much fun and cannot express themselves on a whim. My sons are always in big trouble for talking and having fun! The positive is, they are both at or above grade level (thank goodness)!

    Ang wrote on January 16th, 2013
  11. I never should have stopped turning cartwheels, doing multiple summersaults across the yard, rolling down the hill ( sometimes in a cardboard box) having handstand contests and standing on my head. i also recall really enjoying a long frog-stand. Pure joy!

    Cyndi wrote on January 16th, 2013
  12. My husband and I got an austrailian cattledog puppy a year ago, and have found more joy and envigoration in taking this energetic little dog out for a walk, run, or chase, every day. Kids love dogs, and so can big kids. This dog knows how to play, and he can bring the outdoors indoors – even into the bed. I no longer fear dirt, but embrace it. Adopt a puppy and feel like a kid again.

    Kelly Burton wrote on January 16th, 2013
  13. This made me smile so hard, and gave me a to-do list this weekend. Thank you Mark!

    Mia wrote on January 16th, 2013
  14. Ask questions. Always. It may feel vulnerable at first, but letting go of the need to pretend we already know everything can be a huge weight off our shoulders. Plus, then we learn more!! :)

    Spencer wrote on January 16th, 2013
  15. Rough housing! My husband and I rough housed together up until our forties. We’re in our early fifties now, and don’t rough house anymore. I miss that, and it was definitely one of my favorite things to do as a kid. I’m going to make it a point to rough house more in 2013!

    Kelly Girl wrote on January 17th, 2013
  16. #17 charity

    stefano wrote on January 17th, 2013
  17. Fighting, I occasionally get into fights. Either street fight or in the ring.

    Nathan wrote on January 17th, 2013
  18. We should of never stopped lying on the grass and looking up at the clouds, to make out animals, shapes ect out of clouds. I use to do this all the time when I was younger with my family. So many laughs, yet so relaxing at the same time.

    Michelle wrote on January 17th, 2013
  19. As I was making my coffee at 5:40 am while playing with a yoyo. I thought of this, I wish I never stopped taking adventure baths!

    Brian McKenna wrote on January 17th, 2013
  20. I love this article: thank you for such a funny, inspiring and nostalgic piece. Just been out and bought a sledge for me and my 18 year old son !

    Melanie Lawrence wrote on January 17th, 2013
  21. I think a few people have said this, but I think positive talk is one of them! As adults we have a tendency to only hear negative (“honey, you forgot to take out the trash.”, “That dinner wasn’t very good.” “You were late turning in that report”) I even have a tendency to talk to myself negatively! But kids, they are always there to tell you good job! And themselves too! My three year old just finished potty training (for good! finally!) and he is always shouting at the top of his lungs, “I did SO good! I am so proud of myself!” Why did we lose that? It’s rare we do that (or at least me) these days as adults!

    Heather wrote on January 17th, 2013
  22. This article made my day! I agree 100% on the hugs. At the age of (almost) 50, jumping in puddles is amazing! Dancing in the rain is also much fun! Enjoy life…Enjoy the day! Go out and let your inner child loose!!! :)

    Lori wrote on January 17th, 2013
  23. Sledging – we’ve got snow here. The feeling of not being in control whooshing down the hill is fantastic. I can’t stop grinning!

    MikeyP wrote on January 17th, 2013
  24. We used to call that being country. People that grew up in the country live that way.

    John O wrote on January 17th, 2013
  25. I never stopped doing most of this…I get called a weirdo because of it…still don’t care, lol. I’m having fun, so bite me. ^_^

    nionvox wrote on January 17th, 2013
  26. Mark, you forgot a big one. How about sleeping outside in a hammock, your only alarm clock being the chirping of the birds in the morning, gently waking you up in time to watch the sunrise!

    Vince wrote on January 17th, 2013
  27. One thing I’d like to add, though it’s more a movement addition – bend from your hips. As a Chiropractor I’m frequently telling parents to learn from their young children. If you see a toddler picking up a toy from the floor, you’ll notice how much they stick their backside out and hinge from their hips. Their body innately knows how to move, and until they reach the age where we imprison them in chairs all day and (wrongly) teach their spine to do do the hard work instead of the hips, they will move as they’re designed too. there’s a reason the largest muscles in the body are found around your hip joints!
    Similarly, follow the example of young schoolkids and sit on the edge of your seat when at a desk – their body is still trying to hold on to the idea of keeping the spine straight, by reducing flexion in the hips to prevent slouching.

    Chris wrote on January 17th, 2013
    • “There’s a reason the largest muscles in the body are found around your hip joints!”

      YES!!! Chairs and sofas are just wrong!

      Helga wrote on January 17th, 2013
  28. What about just plain talking?
    I see less and less people just sitting around and talking to each other.
    I used to sit with friends and just talk stupid thing for hours, but it was better than any therapy they tout nowadays!

    German Fafian wrote on January 17th, 2013
  29. Nice article. I do have one qualm with it: the sleep early tip. circadian rhythms vary very much between people (luckily so, Grok needed someone awake during each part of the night) There isn’t a lot you can do about your genetic rhythm.

    My brother is one of those ‘I-can-go-to-bed-at-9-and-sleep-soundly-until 5′ people while I really really really can’t get to sleep before 12 (and usually later) tossing and turning in your bed for 3 hours does nothing for either rest or stress.

    Jeroen wrote on January 17th, 2013
  30. What a breath of fresh air. So nice to hear after all the new year garbage health advice. I personally think its fear that sets in as we get older and stunts our enjoyment and connection with life. We just need to let go!

    Stuart Ward wrote on January 17th, 2013
  31. I think all this scrutinising of the points made is really missing the point of the article.

    Stuart Ward wrote on January 17th, 2013
  32. Love this post!Speaking of getting outside I would like to suggest a wonderful book for parents, grandparents and educators – “Last Child in the Woods” saving our children from nature-deficit disorder by Richard Louv

    Lisa wrote on January 17th, 2013
  33. I’m one of those people who is known to spontaneously break into song or start dancing for no reason. Most people reckon i’m a few pence short of a pound but I’m pretty sure I’m generally more upbeat than they are =].

    Admittedly, I’ve stopped doing a lot of the things in this list.

    afromuscle wrote on January 17th, 2013
  34. I used to sneak the discarded fat and bones from the trash and secretly devour it (cooked of course)
    Thought it was really strange and wasteful to throw away what tasted fantastic, and all those heart attack fears were amped if they observed you eating untrimmed fat off of meat. Never mind that I was fit and skinny as a rail. Seemed nuts to me, and still does!
    Paleo forever!

    Coral Cadman wrote on January 17th, 2013
  35. Thanks Mark, great article. Inside every adult is a big kid bursing to get out! Life’s serious enough-any chance to regress to childhood and let go of responsibility for a while should be embraced with open arms. Frisbee anyone?

    James Webb wrote on January 17th, 2013
  36. Awesome. Simple ideas and principles are usually a mark of genius! I commend you on a fine article! Thank you for your contributions to our knowledge and well being!

    G. Suarez wrote on January 17th, 2013
  37. To misquote Heidegger, children are in
    “das ein”, being there. They are where they are and they do what they do…
    no IPODs, headphones or dayplanners, no flood of memories or worries for tomorrow.

    damar1 wrote on January 17th, 2013
  38. I actually still do A LOT of these things, including going to bed early EVERY night… Daydreaming and skipping meals when I am too engrossed in other things! :)

    I am working on my spontaneity though because I am definitely a “routine girl” – I always wake up at the same time, work out at the same time… My friends know exactly what I am doing when in the morning, lol!

    GiGi wrote on January 17th, 2013
  39. These are the Man Cave rules.

    Basically men expect this from their friends.

    This is the bottom line. It is a comfortable trust.

    With “ladies” around this doesnt apply..

    Even the obvious.

    telling the truth, “yes you do look fat”

    Create.. “I did it cause it was there”

    Daydream.. “Get off you fat ass and empty the trash”

    Play.. “take off your shoes before you come in the house”

    see…. not so much.

    joel wrote on January 18th, 2013
  40. How about wheels? Handstands?

    cis wrote on January 18th, 2013

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