Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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January 16 2013

16 Things You Should Have Never Stopped Doing

By Mark Sisson
265 Comments

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.

TAGS:  Aging

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265 thoughts on “16 Things You Should Have Never Stopped Doing”

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  1. I especially like the last one. My wife and I refer to “grownup dark” and “kid dark”. You know it is only grownup dark when the kids all say, “aw c’mon, it’s not really dark.”

  2. Ha ha, I guess I never grew up because I still do pretty much all of those things except jump in puddles and eat fruit off the tree(rarely have the opportunity). If you are going to eat fruit right off the tree you should make sure it is organic if you aren’t going to wash it. Don’t want to get a mouth full of pesticides.

    1. If anyone thinks that washing fruit will remove pesticides, I’m afraid they’re kidding themselves. Fruit that has had pesticides applied to it will have them soaked right inside. Some of us lucky ones have fruit trees in our gardens and eating it straight off the branch, provided there’s no bird poop on it, is the only way to go!

  3. Wonderful! Sadly, I didn’t do some of those things much as a child. Probably do more of them now. But not enough. Will resolve to do more!

  4. Awe I loved this one!!!! Another thing we should never stop doing is hugs! people need daily affection and physical contact for optimal health, true story:)

    1. +1 to the hugging!! Kids are so physically affectionate. One of the things I miss most about my daughter going to college is the frequent hugs I used to get from her. So many of us are seriously touch-deprived.

    2. +2 Body contact is very important for children and adults. I think elderly people need it even more and they’re not as likely to get it. What’s the saying; twelve hugs a day for growth? I think it was fewer just for health.

      Great topic, Mark!

      1. So true about massages! As a massage therapist, even my grand kids love the touch. While on vacation last week, with no massage table, my two grandsons (both aged 2) would lay in front of me and want their ‘ssage before bed.

      2. So true! I once saw a documentary about a school in Sweden where the young children massaged eachother’s shoulders every morning while sitting in a ‘train’. Just the fact that they touched eachother brought the bullying down to pretty much zero. Because it’s harder to bully someone you touch that way.

        Brilliant idea, isn’t it? I wish more schools would pick that up.

    3. Yes! Americans are not very touchy-feely. I am going to touch and hug more people more frequently. I just hugged my dog, does that count? Heh. He loved it. Air kisses – mwah! mwah!

      1. Come to the good ol’ rural southern USA.
        We’re big on lots of hugs, & with feeling!

    4. This is super interesting. I remember being in elementary school and we would “draw on each other’s backs” – especially during sit down times (like when our teacher would read to us). No one ever opted out because it felt so good. Even in high school, a friend and I used to run the clicker side of a pen up and down each other’s arms.

    5. This is so true! I remember spending a week with my parents without the hubby, and by the end of the week I was starting to creep out my mom and sister with my long hugs… I was not ok with going so long without physical contact!

      Also, I would like to brag that I full-on jumped, with both feet, into a huge snowdrift the other day just for the fun of it 🙂

      1. It is fun though isn’t it. We were out walking with the kids just after a huge rainstorm the other day and my wife and I had great fun initiating the puddle jump with our kids. The most laughter there has been in ages

  5. Never stop discovering and learning! It’s so important for personal growth. Just be curious like a kid everyday and you will be surprised by how much you still have to learn.

    1. You’re so right! Kids are never afraid to ask questions about anything and everything. Sometimes now if I’m in a conversation, watching a movie or show, etc. and don’t know something, I’ll quietly Google it or just let it go. There needs to be more intellectual curiosity and constant question asking.

      1. People are so afraid of looking stupid – we are so hyper-competitive in our society as well.

  6. This is a really good post…kids get so much right by just being themselves!

    1. Until we send ’em off to school to be indoctrinated and downloaded with all the viruses of our consumerist society.

      1. Unfortunately, they don’t need to go to school to be “indoctrinated… with all the viruses of our consumerist society.” Society has its way of leaking into our lives in other ways. The power comes in not just trying to avoid it (poisons of society), but in learning how to challenge the status quo — and you know what? In some enlightened school communities, challenging the status quo is precisely what they do.

        Be careful about ignorant, lazy comments like this. Not all schools “indoctrinate” children in this negative kind of way. I know plenty of school communities and educators who work their arses off to keep the magic of discovery and inquiry going – and to help guide kids toward self-discovery. In fact, I have worked with many children who view school as a haven for them to be themselves and to feel safe, loved, honored, and celebrated… because they aren’t getting it at home.

        Perhaps your own experience with school has been unpleasant, but please be careful when making these kinds of statements. Ignorance and negativity does nothing to heal this world in which we live.

        1. Agree to this post. Schools can be great places for kids to be themselves. And when I was a school you played hard on climbing and swinging equipment, maybe skinned your knees, got exposed to other kids ‘germs’ and went through the usual childhood illnesses. Anyway. as an adult I still prefer to get around in bare feet and I am certainly a dreamer – looking at clouds, birds, trees, I can do that for hours.

        2. Agree. I found challenging the status quo at school allowed me an awesome “bullshit filter” for life that has since served me well. Not that all of school was bullshit of course, a lot of it was great, but the benefit is that it exposes you to all types of people.

        3. Ok, off your soap box if you please Kamari

          How do you think kids “learn to challenge the status-quo”, while being told to stand up, sit down, shut up, don’t do this or that and my favourite…get in line and do as your told!

          They interact for most part of their day with their peers i.e. other kids, who are mostly reared on a “healthy” dose mainstream media and a false sense of reality and by parents who rely on the state to look after their darlings, istead of taking the personal resposibility on themselves.

          May I suggest you research John Taylor Gatto’s work, or just read his acceptance speech on “Why Schools don’t Educate”.

          PS: He was a top acclaimed teacher for 30 years in NY, so don’t take my “ignorant and lazy” advise and listen to his.

        4. @ Kamari, thank you, very well-articulated! 🙂

          @ Mike UK, wow, angry much? I think someone needs a hug! 🙂

  7. That’s like seeing the world through kid’s eyes again!

    My 11 month old makes me realise daily how simple it is to be happy: warmth, sleep, food, drink, PLAY TIME and love… thats all he needs! There’s a lesson in that i’m sure

  8. I have no problem eating dirty things fresh from the garden(or picked up off the floor, dont judge me!), that being said though…if something is not organic or of questionable origin, it always gets srubbed down. I am not trying to get the dirt off, its the other stuff that concerns me

    1. I don’t eat off the floor–and this coming from someone who ate dirt as a small child, sometimes even with a spoon! (My mom was horrified.) Alas, I grew up and eating dirt lost its appeal, as did eating off the floor, but munching on a garden tomato that’s still warm from the sun is a not-to-be-missed treat.

      1. My Daughters favorite saying is “God made dirt and dirt don’t hurt”.

        1. I still rarely wash veggies before I eat them. I’ve always thought that if tasting a dirt pie didn’t kill me as a kid, it won’t hurt me as an adult!

          I love picking fresh blackberries on the side of the road or at my parents’ house in the spring. And there’s nothing like eating a warm, fresh strawberry picked up out of the dirt.

          And don’t be afraid of ringworms. I had a few as a kid from playing with stray animals. I never even went to the doctor; my grandma just cut open a black walnut and smeared the juice on me and it dried up within a day. And considering how often I played in the dirt and with those animals, I only had ringworm once. I don’t think it’s very easy to get.

        2. “Gods” don’t make dirt (soil); microbes, fungi, insects, worms, etc., do. There are no “gods”, well, except for Sun (stars).

      2. I’m a backpacker — throwing away food is unthinkable in that situation, so eating off the ground is often unavoidable. It’s a happy accident when food DOESN’T have dirt on it!

        Funny how squeamish people are about things that are far less “dirty” than stuff — like money and keyboards — that we handle everyday.

        1. Mary, Ringworm, smingworm. We adopted a kitten with ringworm. Yes, I put her on internal meds because it was so bad. You don’t get ringworm (a fungus) from eating it. You get it by having an open wound that the spores get into. Out of the family of 5, I was the only one who got it – in one spot that the allergist tested me. Over the counter athletes foot cream cured it pretty quickly.

        2. I remember the first time backpacking with my godson and his little brother, 6 and 4 yrs old at the time, stopping for a trail break and snack. Trail mix fell on the ground. “We can’t eat that, it’s dirty now! Mom says we’re not supposed to!” Response: “That’s all there is. Brush it off and eat it. Dirt don’t hurt. Quit throwing food on the ground.”

          On the other hand, they didn’t have a problem eating their own boogers.

      3. Amen to that. Sun-warmed tomato is only eclipsed by sun-warmed boysenberries off the vine and dropped into homemade full-fat vanilla ice cream, melting it perfectly as they go (a dessert I still remember from that 4th of July lo these many years ago).

        1. Cartwheels! I wish I had kept doing them. I’m trying to re-learn in middle age.

      4. Last week, at a bar, I dropped piece of garlic toast on the carpeted floor. (I know, toast not primal, wheat bad, …) I picked it up, looked at it, didn’t see anything strange, and ate it. My friends looked at each other like I was some strange alien creature, engaged in unthinkable behavior.

    2. I don’t know about your neighborhoods… but i know myself and my neighbors don’t spray pesticides all over our fruit trees… we just prune, water, and enjoy.

    3. We are fortunate that we grow most of ours. I have fruit trees (apricots, plums, peaches walnut etc) and a huge vege garden. My kids (and myself of course) when they are outside playing just go and pick things themselves to eat. They pull carrots out of the ground brush them off a bit and eat them, beans, fruit you name it its fantastic.

  9. Use your bicycle and/or feet for transportation — not just for racing.

  10. My Dad was stationed on Crete when I was in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. The base had a beach, a bookstore, and playgrounds. It was a great place and time to be a kid. My favorite memory is sitting in a fig tree reading Nancy Drew and eating ripe figs plucked right off the branches. Also, my parents got me a pair of roller skates for Christmas. I skated up and down the hill we lived on while daydreaming about my future. I laid out in the sun and read comic books. I even took belly dancing classes. Close to sunset my mom and I would walk around the base, leaving the beach section to end of our walk.

    What about sitting on the curb under the streetlight talking to friends about everything and laughing until our stomachs hurt? Then groaning when our parents called us in?

      1. Amen, I would have given anything to have had that kid of childhood. But it is never too late eh? Maybe I will go find a playground to swing at this afternoon.

  11. As a child of the late 60s/early 70s, I can relate to all of this. And it may just be me, but rediscovering it all has been one of the best things about being a grandparent.

    Like most parents, I was too busy actually raising my children, but as a grandparent I love getting on the floor to play cars or build a castle with blocks. We have grand games of tag throughout the house and back yard; this summer I taught my grandson to catch fireflies and put them in a mason jar with holes poked in the lid, and we ate cherry tomatoes and blackberries straight off the vine in Meema’s garden. We go to the park and climb the jungle gym and slide down the slide, sail boats in the kitchen sink, build forts in the living room out of cushions and blankets and color in coloring books.

    Frankly, I love it.

  12. Tell stories! Kids tell the best stories without fear of judgement. As adults we may need to entertain each other with conversation and stories instead of TV and internet. Get back to the oral history of ourselves. Most of the time this will play into the laughing part of this post, however, it will help tap into other emotions that we lose touch with as we get older.

  13. This is great. Just the pickup I have needed for a Wednesday. Outside of providing great information on how to live a healthier, more nutritious life, your site has inspired me to take more risks in my career and just gives me an overall feeling of wellbeing for wanting to make some changes and get out of this rat race that so many of us live in. Working on it everyday.

  14. Great list. When I grew up (b. 1954) we drank water straight from gutters on the street. Most of the kids chewed tar from street-repair projects, little chunks they’d fine. It was supposed to whiten teeth. A friend of mine who grew up in St. Louis said on hot summer nights the DDT truck would drive slowly down the streets spraying mosquitos, and the resulting cool mist of bug-truck spray was heavenly to run through. Mark’s list is safer.

    1. Good Lord! I remember running behind the mosquito truck as a kid, too! That, and riding and jumping our bikes over everything — relishing that brief moment of “air time”. Helmet? What’s a helmet?

      My two little kids jump into bed with us in the morning and say, “Poppy, read a story about . . . ” and then they fill in the blank with their names, one of the cats, the dog, or mode of transportation. I then “read” (tell) them a story of the top of my head, the more ludicrous the better.

      Sometimes, I get lazy and say, “Once upon a time, a beautiful princess lived in a castle on the hill and she lived happily ever after. The END.”

      They howl in unison, “THAT’s NOT THE STORY!” We all have a good laugh and “read” the real story. Fun times . . . .

      1. Yes…riding a bike without a helmet and riding just for fun, not for “exercise! Rollar skating and going just fast enough in the summer for the moving air to cool you off….I grew up in Phoenix and that is how I spent many a summer’s day

  15. I still love jumping in puddles after a warm summer rain. So I don’t look too silly in my neighbors, I introduced my grandchildren to this activity, as they thought they weren’t allowed to do this…sad, but true. Everytime I take them, they always respond that this is the best day ever!! We race each other to the next puddle to see who can make the biggest splash.

  16. I’ve been trying to practice the ‘let go of grudges’ one… which is the keys to being happy. Still need lots and lots of practice.

    As I’ve gotten older, the one thing that has held me back from ‘pushing limits’ and ‘moving spontaneously’ is the fear of injury! I’ve seen bad things happen to others and have some close calls of my own… AND when injured I’ve noticed that it’s taking a lot longer to recover than before… not sure what to do about this part… as they say, Father Time is undefeated!

  17. An absolutely wonderful post! Thanks you.
    Don’t know why I’ve censored myself.

    1. I think that is the word that best describes it. Somewhere along our path of adulthood we began censoring ourself. The reason I am sure a vast and deep. What a wonderful study that would be- when and why did we begin to censor ourselves. I have strong theories.

  18. Go hug some trees! That’s a pleasure I rediscovered a few years ago. It reminds me of the time I used to hug and talk to my stuffed animals, with the added bonus of actually connecting with another living thing. I now “have” a few favourite trees in closeby woods where I run/hike/walk and whenever I pass by one of “my” trees I make sure to stop for a hug and a chat! When I’m upset, one of them will turn into a confident. It really is a great healing/connecting/grounding experience! It may sound silly, but try it anyway!

    1. I do this too!! =) I also have my favorites.

      All around great post. Reminds me of some really happy moments in my childhood. Time to rediscover some of those simple pleasures!

    2. I have always felt trees are very wise, and love hugging them as well!!

      I am a big believer in colouring books no matter what age, its simple and creative!

      1. So pleased to hear that I am not the only one! My friends think I’m being very kind when I sit down and colour with their small children. Little do they know that I’m enjoying it more than the kids!

  19. Squat! Look at any child under 3 and they will do a perfect squat when picking something up off the floor. We’re made to squat and should have never gotten used to chairs!

    1. I’m 72 and relearnt to squat when I travelled in China in my 50s and 60s

      A wonderful way to pick up something from the ground.

      If you must bend down then stick out one leg – like a golfer will when picking up a ball.

      Walking in a squat position and climbing stairs that way is a wonderful exercise; and it’s fun too.

  20. Got up early to jump around and roll repeatedly down the Venice beach berms….while laughing hysterically….guess I’m doin something right! haha

  21. My two-year-old constantly reminds me to stop being such an adult! I love your point about climbing–we go to the playground, and climbing the equipment is a lot of fun. The vast majority of parents sit on the benches and watch . . . they don’t remember what they’re missing!

    1. Us too! I can’t get over how many parents just sit on the benches and watch (or text on their phones!) When we take our 5-year old to the playground, we PLAY! You can do pullups, climbing, sprints, pushups, digging in the dirt and sand.. and running up the slides, my son’s favorite 🙂

      1. YES! I was the only crazy mom who actually played with my son at the playground. Everyone else sat and looked out of it. I tried not to judge though…raising children is a lonely, isolating experience and most of those moms were most likely depressed.

  22. Great Post! Have a great quote thats fitting here.

    “We don’t stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing!”

  23. We make forts with our 5-year old regularly! Currently now in winter, we make forts inside with blankets, sheets, chairs etc and hide out on the floor. Forces us adults to get more “floor time” (as Mark pointed out in the last Weekend Link Love) and it just makes us feel like kids. When it’s warmer we make forts in the backyard under our huge lemon tree. So fun!

    1. Ahh I loved making forts when I was younger!! My brother and I would spend all day building them, and be so excited to sleep there at night.

  24. Good timing on the weather one! We’ve been having crummy weather this week, and instead of enjoying the beauty of a cool misty day, I’ve been resenting it. However, Vibrams are definitely not great shoes to wear when it’s wet! Proper rain gear is definitely key to enjoying even ‘bad’ weather.

    Another thing we should’ve never stopped doing is asking questions! Kids always ask about everything, but as we grow up, we censor ourselves more for fear that it’s a dumb question.

  25. Use your imagination I remember sitting on a small area rug with my 2 nieces (7, 9) and 2 nephews (6, 4) imagining we were on a small boat and had to fish for food, get our feet out of the water because one of us saw a shark and a bunch of other things. I relax just thinking about those times. The wonderful things is now that they are 27, 25, 24, 22 they remember it with laughter. I am moving back closer to them so I can enjoy making more wonderful memories with them. Especially since my niece has 2 little ones.

  26. Mark, thank you for a wonderful post! I never use to be a worrier. When you are young you feel invincible! I was fearless but not wreckless. I’d like to get a bit of that bravery back. Fear holds you back from so many things. So today I’ll try to be less fearful. What’s the worst that can happen?

  27. i just loved every point – some i follow, some i haven’t in a while, some i have been told off by parents for encouraging their kids!!… brilliant – worth printing as a reminder!…. thanks

  28. Great post! We should still daydream! The stories and fantasies of my childhood helped me made the day so much more interesting and helped open up a world of possibilities. Never to old to play make believe once in a while.

  29. Some favorite childhood activities…Running through the sprinklers, riding cardboard down the steep hills in the neighborhood, building forts, jumping up and down the curbs in my roller skates so as not to interrupt my speed going down many blocks in the neighborhood, pretending we were a singing group, climbing the rocky point at the beach, napping on the beach and waking up to play in the waves…endless fun.

  30. Play games…Yes! For many reason, having kids was the best thing that ever happened to me. I look forward to the snow so we can go sledding, I play in the sand at the beach (getting sand in my bathing suit!), and worry less about being proper. Enjoying life, stressing less. No one has ever been on their death bed saying “I wish I would have been more proper and uptight” 🙂

  31. My siblings and I would always make “Rain Stew” after it rained. We’d leave a bucket outside to fill with water and then go out and add the “ingredients” – dirt, rocks, grass, flowers, and anything else we could find. It’s one of my favorite memories growing up and I can’t wait to make a good batch of Rain Stew with my son.

    Thanks for reminding us to never grow up!

  32. Great post! Upon reading the list, I find that I still do some (if not most) of these things. One of my biggest joys is going for a long run in the rain, splashing in every puddle, getting soaking wet. People driving by me must think I’m absolutely crazy, but hopefully the smile on my face and how much I’m enjoying the rain, the run, and being outside.

  33. Fan-bleeping-tastic. THAT is so totally the way to live. Its do-able too. Thanks for pointing it out.

  34. Living for the day! Not letting tomorrows events and worries get in the way of the fun and excitement of today. Each day is a new day.

  35. This post and the comments that follow have just rejuvenated my day. All the way to work I moaned about how I was not enjoying my life, not playing, not finding the Primal Connection (though I loved the book). But all these fun reminders of the unfettered joy of childhood inspire me to try just one thing today — at least one fun, free, exuberant activity so I can remember that I’m not old and not done with joy. Thanks, everybody!!!

  36. Love this post. Glad to say I have never lost my inner child, and at 51 I still do all those things. My wife calls me the biggest kid on the block.

    I have one to add: Tell the people that you love the most that you love them. And tell them every day!

    1. My husband gets nervous when I say it to his face. : )

  37. Try new things! Every year on my birthday, I decide on one new thing do learn/do/try. Last year it was knitting. That didn’t go so well. This year, I am learning to play the guitar.

    Also, as someone said above, give and receive HUGS! Not only is it an instant mood-lifter, but it feels good too.

  38. Something I miss is regular visits to a local woodland. Always felt so at home climbing trees and jumping over streams and carving fallen sticks into spears. If there was a local woodland I know I’d likely still be frequenting that childlike frame of mind.
    When the stream ran heavily, me and my friends would race twigs in it and see how far through the woods they could get!

  39. This post made me happy and optimistic. I needed the reminder of how carefree, fun, innocent, curious, and adventurous I used to be. Thank you!

  40. Thanks for the comments about jumping in water puddles. I remember as a small child my mom left me with a babysitter who spanked me because I got wet jumping in water puddles after a storm.

    Good grief, I’m in my 50’s and I still remember that horrid women. I made such a fuss the next time I was taken there, my mom had to find a new babysitter.

    Hah, I wasn’t weird for jumping in puddles. Just a young child having fun.

  41. Letting go of grudges is one that speaks so loudly in my life. This morning I wrote a post about forgiving oneself for their past mistakes and how important that is. Once I published it, I saw this MDA post in my mailbox and literally felt my heart leap. This stuff is SO important to remember. Thank you Mark for spreading the wisdom as always.
    http://livewildhealthcoaching.com/2013/01/16/forgive-yourself/

  42. When did I give up on HUGGING PUPPIES AND KITTENS every chance I got? If you can keep from turning home into a kennel!! I swore as a kid I’d go visit the pet store every day and hold as many puppies as I wanted.

  43. Anybody know a good source for learning about local edible plants and such in Central Texas?

    I grew up in South Florida and took pride in knowing all kinds of strange things that were edible in the woods and I’d like to have that back as an adult…

    1. Try foragingtexas dot com. I grew up near Dallas and did tons of camping and remember seeing wild tomatillos.

  44. My favorite childhood rediscovery is hula hooping! (Hoop dance, actually.) It’s great exercise & fun as all get-out. We have a local hoop jam once a week, with a drum circle, so it’s a social gathering too!

  45. Good list. Climb things strikes a chord with me. Every time I “have to” put up the Christmas lights I have the urge to just sit on the roof for awhile and look around the neighborhood from up high. Last summer we’d take family walks and always end up at the school play ground. My son and I came up with a game I called “hot lava.” The goal was to get across the playground w/o touching the ground. For me it was fun exercise, for my son, it was me challenging his comfort zone, getting him to push himself.
    Fred

    1. I love that game! We used to play it indoors! Circle the room without touching the floor!

  46. I love it, I’m lucky to live in the country on 400acres where I can do all those things. I def. let and encourage my young boys 4and6 to do them! I have a hard time keeping up at 47yrs young, but loosing 45 lbs since 1/10/12 is helping me do more kid things with my boys. Thanks for sharing Mark!

  47. My son just turned me on to the site…good stuff. I was just thinking of one spontaneous thing that seems primal to me that we should all do…jump on the back of shopping carts and ride them to the car. Imagine a country where people are riding carts…now, that’s a country with no troubles.

    1. I still do this! The first time I did it with my kids in the cart, they were amazed!

  48. I think the other side to laughing more, is to cry as well. It’s ok. It releases pent up emotion and you might feel cleansed afterward.

  49. I love the fact that our 15 month old daughter would rather be sitting in the dirt eating sticks and playing in mud puddles than inside playing with all her actual toys. She’s helping me learn how to be a kid again 😉

  50. now i’d like to relive all those high school years………lol

  51. I love this!!! I am going to copy me this list and the suggestions in the comments, and post on my refrigerator where I will see it every day! This made me smile and laugh just remembering how it was to be a kid!

  52. What a great post! I would have added “go barefoot more”. I stayed barefoot most of my summers and had the gnarly callouses to prove it by Labor Day. And now we invest in minimalist shoes (myself included) to achieve the same benefit. Minus the callouses… 😉 I’m also with the huggers. My work enables me to literally touch people all day, which I’m sure benefits me as much as it does them when you think about it. Such a blessing! But nothing–NOTHING–compares to an intentional, full-on, no-hesitation hug. Reading this, and the wonderful comments, I’m so grateful also that, at 42, I have a baby. I can already tell he’s going to keep us young! At least once the aging sleep deprivation is over and one with. 😉

  53. Singing and dancing need to be added to this list! When we’re kids (like toddler age) we all loved to dance to our favorite songs and even sing along, without any fear of looking silly or not sounding right. I think that’s one of the first things we lose as we begin to “grow up,” our ability to let loose and have fun with no fear of being made fun of. We even have it better now as adults because if we get made fun of, who cares!

  54. I love this post. Daydreaming was the best and I miss it, being alway caught up in other things to do that really end up being not so important yet they happen every day.

  55. Daydreaming, dancing, hugging, and challenging my inner hero on everything that involves mental and physical strength are some of my favorite things to do today. Also,gardening wearing nothing but a t-shirt and shorts, no gloves no shoes, love the feeling of the dirt all over me! When I was a kid we lived in a forested area with a lake near by, I remember playing with my bother and cousins pretending we were explores we used to go camping for the day,and oh man, we did all kind of fun things there like jumping of a rope hanged from a tree and falling on hundreds of tree leaves or hunting for crickets and snails so my uncle could cook them for us. oh those were the good times!! we are so fortunate to live in a forested area now and I can’t wait to have kids so they can enjoy the wonders of nature like I did! Thank you Mark for such amazing post 🙂

  56. Hugging and snuggling with my dogs. As a child they always provided that safe, secure and unconditional love. Even today in my 50’s when I want to feel better I snuggle up with one of my fur babies………….

  57. I love all of them and there’s only a couple that I haven’t accomplished. To top it off we didn’t get the flue from any of them.

  58. We had a “sandbox” in our backyard when I was little. It eventually became a “mudbox”. I remember my little brother and I sitting in it and rolling around in it like a couple of hogs. I remember climbing to the top of the tree in my front yard because we were higher then the house roof and thought it was neat. I ran through filthy creeks catching crayfish. We always got soooo dirty. And now, as an adult, I don’t get sick. I haven’t had a cold in years. I am NOT ever getting a flu shot (haven’t had the flu since 5th grade – that was in ’75). I always have contributed that to the fact that I liked to get dirty as a child. I craved dirt, real butter and raw meat as a kid. Our children are constantly sick because they are never allowed to get dirty. If my parents knew then what I know now…

  59. A few years ago I started parking at the back of the parking lot just so I could ride the shopping cart downhill all the way back to my car. What a blast! And the looks I got… hee

  60. Great topic, I used to get on my horse bareback and ride on the hill across from our farm, no helmet, no other riders with me, certainly no cell phone ICE…just me and Skeeter…My only requirememt was to be back by dark.

  61. Great post! I’m 41, and of the generation where my dad worked a lot. But, he made his time with me really count. Some favs:
    1. sitting on the porch at night, watching the stars (we lived out in the woods, no bright lights).
    2. Watching the birds at the feeder from the kitchen window, and referring to our Field Guide to spot new arrivals and visitors. Can’t tell you how many species come to a simple, hanging feeder.
    3. Reading. Dad would read to me from some ancient tomb on World History.

    The point is that my dad, working as much as he did, stopped to disengage from his world and spend time in mine. I’m a dad now, so all this really hits home. So I say, just stop and do what the kids are doing! (though he “I’ll show you mine…” thing might backfire at work)

  62. Ah, yes, the joys of dirt! As a child I lived in Japan, and we would often play around open sewers, keeping an ear out for the tell-tale sound of huge brown rats slopping and splashing down the ditches (like poo-filled Slip-‘N-Slides). Intestinal parasites, impetigo, toxoplasmosis…it brings back lovely memories!

    On the positive side, it may have given us some protection against polio.

  63. Playing in dirt (or just doing organic gardening, working in the forest with soil, etc) lets your immune system interact with your environment. And this needs to happen so your immune system stays sharp at identifying friend from foe. So the Germ Theory is wrong. But I will take it a step further using soil microbiology as an example. It is fact that conventional chemical laden (pesticide, herbicide, fungicide) and chemical fertilized soils dramatically alter the balanced relationships between microbes (and all other creatures) that make up the soil web of life. And the immune system of the soil is virtually destroyed as a result. This a major reason why plants that grow in these soils have very little, if any, disease resistance. On the other hand plants grown with organic methods in organic chemical-free soils have high disease resistance – a good immune system. It has been my belief for many years that the immunity of healthy soil (and dirt) can be passed on to humans (and all animals) when they get dirty with that soil often, and this is especially true for the developing immune system of a child. Some people have refered to this as “transfer factors”. I also believe that getting dirty with an environment where the dirt is full of chemicals may hinder your immune system’s ability to stay sharp at identifying friend from foe because the microbes that you take into your body from this dirt could not provide immunity to plants. Basically the microbial balance is wrong and this can negatively affect your intestinal microbial balance and the microbial balance elsewhere in your body. I believe science will eventually shed more light on this, and people will see a major aspect of the importance of living in a chemical-free environment (at least as chemical-free as possible).

    1. Early Dutch traders to Japan found their vermifuges (medicines that expel intestinal worms) were always in high demand by the locals. Since the Japanese traditionally used night soil (human excrement) as fertilizer, their gardens were probably pretty darned nutrient-dense. Should not the gut health of the average citizen have been rather good as a result?

  64. We live close to Lake Michigan and I still love to make sand castles! I feel a little silly at first, but I get over it.

  65. I think “Have a race with a friend” needs to be added to the list! Nothing like yelling “last one there’s a rotten egg” and bolting like mad!

  66. How about also dressing up for Halloween and walking down the street alongside the kids?! Get into the spirit of holidays/parties/games rather than watching removed from a distance with the other boring “grown-ups”.

    Even home improvement and decorating projects can be something fun. My husband and I built a large cabinet together in the shape of a TARDIS (police box from Dr. Who–achieved “coolest Aunt and Uncle ever” status for that one!). We also turned our dingy basement into a mid-century Tiki lounge and atomic-era “spy” room. Our action figures are proudly displayed, and the slot-car set never gets put away (and we don’t even have kids ourselves).

  67. Living and working in a city after being brought up on a farm, every time I get near a park I have this overwhelming urge to lie down on the grass. And mostly I do, if I am not wearing white.

  68. Dear Mark,

    I am a regular coffee drinker and enjoy the fleshly ground beans. I am interested to know what your take is on coffee preparation methods. I understand atherosclerosis is a concentration driven processes (in terms of Apolipoprotein B), and in that respect it would make sense to use a coffee filter (as to filter out the Apo B increasing lipids from the coffee). However, I think the French Press tastes better, and I suspect that most coffee drip machines and plastic filters are not free of BPA or other harmful hormone-like polycarbons. What is your take on coffee’s effects on Apo B? Does it matter, or does it not matter for someone who is not hyperchloremic? Does 20 mg/dL Apo B even matter in terms of blood profile of a healthy person? Do you have any other suggestion for alternative preparation methods? It would be accurate to say that I regularly consume >2 fair sized cups a day, which is what the study determined was the cut-off threshold for when coffee consumption started to associate with increased Apo B (although I understand that correlation studies cannot show causation).

    Thank you in advance.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2864577/

  69. Excellent blog today! I still do many of these things and enjoyed the memories and smiles the rest brought.

  70. This has been one of my favorite posts to date! It’s such a refreshing reminder to take the time to go back to instinct and what feels right in the moment without any filter or worry of judgement. I remember the joy and lack of hesitation to run to any swing anywhere and feel the wind, how heigh you could soar, and know you could control your speed. Thanks for a great post Mark!

  71. Play hooky! Every year in the Spring we take the kids out of school and go to a ball game.

  72. After reading the post and all of your replies the little kid in me wants to cry. Someone stole all of his fun.

  73. You should also stomp leaves, they make anexcellent sound and are fun to jump into when piled high.
    Another fun thing and will get you strange looks is running through the sprinkler in the summer at the Capital in DC. very fun

  74. Great post!! We grew up doing alot of these things -racing (always barefoot) around the neighborhood, riding our bikes everywhere (no helmets), and also had a blast riding horses -(also no helmets) . We’d ride bareback all summer, ride through the creek, etc.
    I still live a life that’s pretty much outdoors all year round, fairly rural, and sort of revolves around dirt, good produce, and animals.

  75. I did those things as a child and they just don’t have the same spark they once did. Kind of like watching the same movie over and over. When I was a teenager I tried to play with toys that thrilled me to no end at one time and it just wasn’t the same. I will sled or throw snowballs or make snow angels but its just not enough wow to do it over and over like a kid will.

  76. Cuddle the dog. I recently adopted a dog and watching my 6 year old cuddle the dog and just run and play with him,and get him to sleep on her bed. Reminds me if doing the same thing when I was a child. More fun than just taking him for a walk around the block.

  77. This is my favourite post so far, simply because I got a little emotional reading it. It took me back to the hours I used to spend in the woods. Barefoot, no less! I loved when we ‘had’ to rake the leaves. That meant piles and piles of the stuff to jump in, lie in or just kick around. I love that the primal blueprint really leads us to what we should have been doing along.

  78. My son was a dirt-eater. I’d discover him sitting in a pile of dirt with a dirt ring around his mouth, grinning from ear to ear. He and my daughter would, after a rain, sit at the end of the driveway, in the depression, playing in the deep mud-puddle, just laughing and splashing each other with the muddy water. Great memories for us all.

  79. I have been really lucky with much of this. I have siblings that are 13 to 20 years younger than me. Right after I got home from work I would eat quick and head cross town to see what was on with the kids. Great fun!

  80. Wrestle/wrassle/grapple! As kids, we were always mixing it up on the playground with friends, or at home with siblings, testing ourselves against one another and just having fun being physical. For the past three years, I’ve been doing this on the mat with others training Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I am nearly 48 and can still hold my own with guys more than half my age. BJJ is about technique and leverage, and learning these new skills and testing them with caring, competent training partners is incredibly fulfilling! Just be sure to choose a well-regarded school with established ties to a reputable master.

  81. Reading is a multi-faceted activity for me, especially considering fiction. I used to be very enthusiastic about reading. Now sometimes I can get immersed in a novel for hours at a time and sometimes picking one up seems like one of the most useless things I could do. In those cases Mark is right – trying to read something we don’t want to can be a kickstart to do something better. I find reading more interesting when there’s a lack of other leisure activities, like in jail, or before any experience with that, like in class at school.
    I may be going back to jail again soon. I missed a probation appointment and didn’t report in the normal accepted time frame. I slept in. Then when I had the motivation to go rectify my uncooperation it rained for most of a week like there was another hurricane – in mid January – so I didn’t want to leave the shelter of a water-proof roof. (Well, I sort of did. At night when there was no one about and it was pouring I considered using the rain as a shower and cold water plunge at the same time, but I had no way to dry good enough and wasn’t going to fall alseep wet in my new sleeping bag.) At least I was warmer for a few days and almost all the snow melted so the footprints leading to my secret lair are mostly abolished. I’m usually warm enough except sometimes for my feet.
    Some of these headings run together for me like climb, jump, play in the sand, and move spontaneously.
    I usually take the backways walking through towns and cities and prefer to take the wildest route possible. If there’s no time restrictions I’ll take long-cuts sometimes instead of short-cuts – “the scenic route”. It feels better spending limited time in robot-mode 90 degree-angle world.
    I tested myself the other night. I jumped from the bottom of an upside down garbage can and tried to grab onto a heater coming out of a wall. It was wet so I slipped but landed smooth enough on my backpack and still derived some euphoria.
    Last night I was walking along the town river and heard wood cracking so I looked and saw a branch moving down the river with the water being disturbed near it and this morning I saw lots of pointy small tree stumps so I assume a beaver’s been very busy. In a small nature reserve in a city I saw a crow or raven flying by holding a whole hotdog weiner in its mouth. You’ll see more interesting animal activity if you take the more natural routes.

    1. Dear Animarchy,
      I’m not sure if you’ve heard of “Batman’s” ‘Four Cornerstones’ of law. It’s not ‘law’ as we are told to accept it, it’s way beyond that.
      In the simplest nutshell possible, in the face of ‘The Law’, ie, judge, you have no name, you are not a person, you are simply ‘a creature of this planet’ or ‘a benevolent observer’.
      To say your name; ‘You can call me ‘Bob, short for Kate’ or whatever pleases you at that time.
      If they ask why you’re there, you say something like, ‘I’m here for that matter, which I would like to settle honourably.’
      One must be prepared to lose every material item- that’s sort of the big thing most people would baulk at, but basically, this is the key to getting the judge to HAVE to let you go. Avoid all titles because that links you back in to the system. My memory is sketchy, but it’s along these lines.
      I’ve not tried it, but apparently it’s the key. No harm in looking it up I guess, if you had the time. I don’t I’m afraid.
      This is all presupposing you haven’t harmed anyone or their property…
      : )

  82. I walk my dog at the beach almost daily and it is remarkable that here in Southern California the beaches are pretty empty between Labor Day and Memorial Day. People think 65 F is too cold. People also drive to the beach, park, and watch the sunset from the comfort of their cars. Sad.

    But more for me! I get to enjoy the sand beneath my bare feet, smell the sea spray, watch the pelicans above me flying in formation and feel so wonderful. Maybe I’l build sandcastles this weekend.

    We planted many fruits in our backyard and Love to pick a ripe berry, grape, fig, etc and eat it out of hand. My dog absolutely loves and begs for any fruit right off the tree, much more than fruit from the store. I use my dog as my role model since he loves meat, loves to play, show affection, sit in the sun, dig in dirt, sprint and take naps!

  83. Just forwarded this to my husband. I love it when our kids are covered in mud it means they’ve had fun, but maybe we should join in more often. I love this post. I’m going outside now to join the kids. 🙂

  84. As a teacher I get to do a lot of these things simply because I CHOOSE to do so. If you want to get kids on board then you have to be a kid yourself. Getting down and dirty with kids is a two-way street. Everyone benefits.
    Getting to be early is a hard one – alwways so much to do!

  85. Sing, even if you think you can’t: in the car, the shower, the kitchen, to children your loved ones, yourself.

    1. Singing loudly in my car really makes my day. It can turn a bad day into a good day:D

  86. Holding hands. Reaching for the hand of trusted loved ones – family or friends – whether it be in a moment of fear, or just wanting to feel closer to share a moment. I wish I never stopped doing this and I encourage anyone to try to get back into the habit.

  87. as we live o our own orgnic smallholding I would say that virtually all of those are daily occurences.

    I would, though, add 4 things:

    Hugs and those 3 little words.
    XX

  88. To increase the outiside play adventure last summer we installed a 180′ zip line. We also put up a triangular slack line (Gibbon) through the trees coming off the top of the zip line and then strung a really tight climbing rope about 4′ over the slack lines. We run the slackline course and play tag and then take the zip line down. Kids spend HOURS running the zip line back up to the start point (where they have to climb the tree to get started). I even got my 70 yr old mom to do it last summer! It was awesome!

  89. I love this. One thing I notice my kids doing is not judging. As long as you can play, kids don’t care if you are boy/girl/young/old/black/white/ethnic/impaired. We can learn from that.

  90. I might drive a mud encrusted Jeep…but with no doors, roof or wind shield I get plenty muddy to. >_>

  91. Dancing like there is nobody watching
    splashing water at each other and get totally wet in the summer. The kids love it. Or in Winter, find some snow slops and skid down with tube or just play in snow.
    Gang tickle one of your friends when she is down.
    be happy for simple things
    don’t stay upset for long
    run everywhere when you get out and be curious about everything.
    Eat when you are hungry and don’t eat when you are not.

  92. About a week ago I cried.

    For some reason I woke up with SuperTramps “The Logical Song” in my head so I went and turned on the PC, fired up youtube and watched it about 4 times.

    I couldn’t believe the emotional impact it had on me, I was 12 again, could remember all those things I did as a kid and how fun life was then, and it absolutely smacked me between the eyes.

    How strange that this article is released a week later.

    Do yourself a favour and watch the “The Logical Song” on youtube, but I warn you, have tissues nearby.

  93. I was really introverted, so I used to love playing make-believe. I would dig out whatever from the closet, dress up, and then act out all kinds of behind-the-scenes and after-happily-ever-after stories for myself. I’m sure there’s a great adult application for this that isn’t just for Halloween and the bedroom… Heck, lots of us here make-believe at hunter-gatherer, right? I wonder how much fun we could have with that concept.

  94. I LOVE today’s topic!!! Why can’t I be childlike again? I want to! I remember! Ya know, sometimes I am childlike; probably at least once daily. If only I had the energy that I had as a child…

  95. Something I can recommend is playing games with your pets.
    I’ve done this since I was a child with both cats and dogs.
    My current two cats (Abby twin boys) love chasing a piece of string, and stuffed mice I throw around for them. They will also play hide-and-seek!

    Getting off the internet and reading some books is the one I will resolve to change immediately.

  96. Eat with your fingers!! Food just tastes better!! Be selective as to where you do this tho!

  97. I love doing all of these things – got to admit, I never grew up 🙂

    I love splashing in the waves and running alongside my dog at the beach, while other adults look at me longingly – sometimes I see in their eyes that they wish they could be less inhibited.

    Mark, I’d love to share a video with you – there’s another reason why your readers often feel like they don’t fit in and why sometimes they feel like a square peg in a round hole…

  98. After being treated or should I say abused for cancer last year, my New Year new life is going to be all about living simply. All the things Mark wrote about here.
    I feel sorry for the kids these days who are being carted off to this class, that sport this…whatever. So their parents can spend all their time complaining about how busy they are “with the kids”. lol

  99. Things I’m learning (again) from my five-year-old daughter:
    -Push the plate away. It’s ok to not eat everything and not be part of that old-fashioned “Clean Plate Food Club” of Grandma’s.
    -Never meet a stranger. Yes, she’s got discrimination and is learning age-appropriate “stranger-danger”. She also loves making new friends of everyone she meets instead of being in a rush.

  100. I still chase the cat (when I visit her at my parent’s place), pull her tail, rile her up, wrestle with her 🙂

    Makes me feel young and care-free, and most definitely happy!

  101. Number 2 really resonates with me. I tend to use the weather as an excuse to stay inside and justify my poor mood or inability to get things done. I just need to put on my rain clothes and get out there regardless. You’ll always dry off.

  102. I wish I could play outside more than I do. My job keeps me cooped up. However, I sing and dance for no good reason and strike up conversations with anyone of any age and notice the beauty all around, so I hope I can make do with that.

  103. I tried to do a hand stand last night, up against the wall after reading some Crossfit work out ideas. It’s something I assumed I could just do as I used to do it all the time when I was younger. Sounded like fun. No problem I thought! My oh my, was I surprised when it took me AGES to get up there! I found myself being afraid I would hurt myself, that my wrists would give out, blah, blah, blah… but I persisted and eventually got up to a hand stand. Small victory! I intend to re-discover all the physical things I used to do and love and ones I was never brave enough to try when I was little (I was a timid kid). I have also learnt to ride a bike recently at the tender age of 33 and now ride to work each day. I’m not fast or very good but I take my time and enjoy the half an hour of slow paced exercise and love that fact I’m working on a new skill while I’m at it. I’m loving it!! 🙂

    1. Cruising around on a bike is the BEST. Helmets suck though. It should be a choice.

  104. Never stop being amazed! We live in an amazing world that we take for granted.

  105. Great list, it reminds me of “The Logical Song” by Supertramp 🙂

  106. 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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!

  109. Do a lot of these at once by running around like an idiot in your underwear!

  110. 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!

  111. 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).

  112. 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)!

  113. 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!

  114. 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.

  115. This made me smile so hard, and gave me a to-do list this weekend. Thank you Mark!

  116. 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!! 🙂

  117. 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!

  118. Fighting, I occasionally get into fights. Either street fight or in the ring.

  119. 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.

  120. 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!

  121. 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 !

  122. 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!

  123. 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!!! 🙂

  124. Sledging – we’ve got snow here. The feeling of not being in control whooshing down the hill is fantastic. I can’t stop grinning!

  125. We used to call that being country. People that grew up in the country live that way.

  126. 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. ^_^

  127. 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!

  128. 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.

    1. “There’s a reason the largest muscles in the body are found around your hip joints!”

      YES!!! Chairs and sofas are just wrong!

  129. 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!

  130. 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.

  131. 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!

  132. 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

  133. 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.

  134. 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!

  135. 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?

  136. 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!

  137. 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.

  138. 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!

  139. 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.

  140. I wish I never stopped pooping my pants. I’d save a lot more time that way. I’m going to go climb something now.

  141. Eat dessert first! I’ll never forget the time my mom and I went to Red Lobster (I must had been about 14) and she said, “I never have room for the raspberry cobbler so make sure to leave room.” That’s when I had the greatest idea ever….”hey mom, let’s have dessert first and bring home our entree”. She happily agreed and we had our cobbler, hot cheesy rolls and salad and brought home our entree 🙂

  142. Thanks for the article Mark, remember when we had 2×4’s nailed to the tree as a ladder to climb? I have a seventy foot walnut tree in my yard, I”m going to nail 2×4’s to the trunk and climb, always a joy to read you Mark, gracias.

  143. After very nearly dying in 2008 I changed my life. Now, at 41 years old, I do almost everything on that list! 🙂

  144. I think squatting should be on the list. We used to be able to squat. We should squat every day. Little kids constantly squat – it is comfortable for them to squat. People in Asia squat all the time – we don’t in America.

  145. Loved reading this as I sat in the park cafe after walking through the snow- UK teacher forced to stay at home as school closed because of snow. Poor me:)
    Just wanted to add that although we are rightly being advised to relive our childhoods, what is this generation going to relive? In the primary school where I teach, 4-11yr olds, last week the school received a directive not to let the children go out for the whole lunch break because it was deemed too cold and it was mentioned by staff that parents overlooking the school would complain and on snowy days children are kept in unless the class teacher takes them out for a short while. So many if these children live in homes with no gardens and spend their home time on electronic devices.
    And this is not another dig at schools because not all children would benefit from being home taught.

  146. I love this article, I wish more people would see life this way! 🙂

  147. Growing up in the 80s in Missoula, Montana was perfect. We had a sand pit, we had apple and pear trees to pick fruit off of, we had a big garden. There was a forested hill across the street, for climbing and exploring. I remember the four of us (my twin brother and I plus Adam and Brendan) would go to a ledge on the hill overlooking our valley and see who could pee the farthest. We would also see who could climb up to steep, gravelly hillside the fastest. It was cool looking down on my house, looking how small my “world” was from above. Loved those days!

  148. “Sure, we all whined and belly ached about it, but in ten minutes we were out like lights.”

    No, not all of us were. Some of us simply aren’t built for early bedtimes, and it’s ridiculous to make a blanket statement like that. Different people have different circadian rhythms. Experience has taught me that I’m most rested going to bed at 2 and waking up at 10. If going to bed at 10 and waking at 6 is best for you, great, but you should find where your personal sweet spot is and go with it as much as possible. For some of us, turning in at 10 just means lying awake, and that’s hardly relaxing or productive.

  149. Been reading for a little over a year and this is the first time I really wanted to make a comment. My favorite thread of all time! Keep’em coming ;D

  150. Some awesome responses but, unless I missed it, no one choose nudity (naturists). Young children can go ude at the beaches. Ok, I don’t necessary mean nudity anywhere, but why not other where? It can be a liberating feeling feeling nature on your skin or swimming? Not in any sexual or sensual way. We’re still too puritanical?

  151. I was in some MMA classes and part of the warmup was doing cartwheels and sommersaults, I loved it!

  152. I’ve been consciously trying to incorporate as much functional/natural movement into my day as possible, which is a lot considering I’m a SAHM with three children under the age of six. A short time ago, I watched my 10 mo old primal baby girl execute a perfect full squat while holding my hand. Her 5 and 3 year old siblings already lift their heels off the floor when squatting (working to to correct that). Oh I hope that she doesn’t lose that natural form!

  153. “Remember how crushed you were when it was time to come in for lunch/dinner/errands/school/et”

    Actually no , I always looked forward to it, even as a kid 😛

  154. I am definitely going to make more of an active effort to get back to reading. At one point I was reading a new book a week but then life caught up with me.

    Time to get back to the grindstone and really dial in that effort!

    I like the last tip as well “stay outside until the last possible minute”. Where are the kids now a days?! I remember even in highschool I would be outside for hours and hours playing basketball or just hanging around at the park with my friends.

    Walk outside in today’s world and it’s more like a ghost town with the occasional bird chirp and car swooshing by.

  155. The swingset. Watching children play on a swingset is magical, especially small children as they giggle with excitement from each push from their parent. This is something we should not stop doing.

    Next time you see a swingset, hop on, swing as high as you can and giggle the whole time. (try not to get dizzy).

  156. Also? Resist the urge to punish people who do any of these things. Fear of consequences is a major reason people stop acting like kids on the way to adulthood, and the fear is unfortunately not unfounded.

    I actually am more myself now than I was as a kid. But I’ve also had to pay the piper, because apparently no one is allowed to be me in polite company. I am capable of great tact, but I will also speak my mind, even when what I think or believe does not agree with the majority. Apparently that is a less forgivable trait than being a rapist or partner-abuser. Who knew.