Every day is an uphill battle for me. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I need a spark to start the ignition.
To win the day, you must PLAY:
That was yesterday.
When I was a kid I loved 80s style games. The simple graphics but, for me, incredibly hard skills to master to just be as good as my friends.
For a brief moment yesterday, I was a kid again. And even now, thinking about it, I have the whims and wishes of a child. The hope and anticipation of the future.
I hold all of my business meetings while playing ping-pong. It’s fun, people relax, and it creates a memory.
A meeting in an office is cold. You forget it. It’s meaningless as opposed to living a life with meaning.
The above photo is a business meeting. For ten years I’ve been doing business with the incredible Jami Stout and about to speak at a conference she is organizing. We always meet over ping pong.
This was on my birthday last week.
Aim (archery, basketball, shooting, pool, etc) is an important skill. It’s hard to learn a craft, increase a sense, and improve aim.
Plus it was physically exhausting to shoot arrows for two hours.
There’s no arrow in the bow because I just shot it. I hope this one was a bulls-eye but I forget.
Podcasts are serious business. To prepare for Tim Ferriss I probably spent 50 hours reading and taking notes on his latest book.
BUT, I wanted to have fun. So we made the above video.
One time I was in Argentina and I showed up at the chess club in Buenos Aires. It’s where Bobby Fisher played Tigran Petrosian in 1971. Where Alekhine defeated Capablanca in the 20s.
They wouldn’t let me.
But then my guest told them what my rating was. They ushered me right upstairs, gave me a tour, and introduced me to the Argentina Junior Champion. We played two games. He won one and I won one.
I can go anywhere in the world and fit right in. And I learn and have fun and meet new people.
The picture above was taken on a first date last July. And, of course, there was a second date.
But often I can hide life advice in the way I teach them games and sports.
So I taught them tennis. In school they always get A+ on tests or they get upset. But you can’t do a perfect serve every time or you aren’t taking enough risks.
They learn this by seeing the score at the end. When they take more risks, they lose more points but win more games.
Stephen Dubner wrote “Freakonomics” in, if I remember correctly, 2004.
But ever since 2002 we’ve been in one ongoing backgammon match. We play every week or so.
In that time, between the two of us we’ve written over a dozen books. We’ve both switched careers several times.
We’ve even worked together on two projects that didn’t really work out. A business idea and a podcast that was doing well but just not growing how we wanted it to.
But through it all we’ve maintained a close friendship. One that is, in part, glued together by play. Backgammon has become the backbone of our friendship.
40,000 years ago, humans made musical instruments.
How come? Do they help promote survival? How do they fit into evolution.
Who knows? But one theory is that we used instruments to communicate over long distances. This allowed us to adapt to new domains by conquering bigger predators that were stronger but didn’t have “musical ability”.
It’s also fun. Here I am playing, “Don’t Stop Believing’” on the piano in an Airbnb I stayed at many years ago.
I can’t learn from a textbook. I can’t learn from a lecture. I can’t learn from someone shouting at me.
But I learn from play. And it’s fun. And it makes my happy chemicals spike up.
It also improves my social life. Keeps me active, forces me to be creative. And I’m happy when I learn and I try to learn when I fail.
I measure my life not in years, but in the moments of play.
Which means the more I play, the longer I hope to live.
The longer I hope to love.
(tell me what you like to play to get your day going).
James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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