Ever since I was a little kid, adults were constantly patting me on the head and saying to my mom, “She is so well-behaved and mature for her age!” And this was true: I’ve always been a straight-A student, a people-pleaser, and pretty reserved. But when my mom died when I was only seventeen, I realized that life is too short to do anything that doesn’t make you ridiculously happy. Childish hijinks that score a laugh beat maturity and well-behaved-ness any day. I believe doing stupid things just for the sake of having fun is the key to staying young, feeling happy, and just remembering you are lucky to be alive.
A good rule of thumb to follow for finding activities that are stupid enough to make you unbelievably happy is asking yourself if a child would enjoy it. That said, Ding-Dong-Ditch, Twister, slip n slides, sledding, water fights, pillow fights, lighting things on fire, and shouting out the car window at passers-by are all kid-approved activities. I’ve found that taking a day off from being mature to do something childish feels exhilarating—and doing stupid things on a whim can present you with some pretty amazing opportunities. Has anyone outside the cast of Superbad ever had the chance to go sledding with cops and watch them do donuts in their squad cars? I have. But only because I happened to be sledding after-hours at a golf course—probably trespassing—and my friend locked his keys in the car: Stupidity at its finest. If the instant gratification of having a good time doesn’t provide enough incentive to go out and try something stupid, I know that memories like these will give me things to laugh about for years to come.
Besides seeing officers of the law do what they do best, blatant stupidity also offers the opportunity for happiness from making others happy. For Valentine’s Day this year, since neither I nor any of my good friends had that Peaches-and-Herb-letterman-jacket-sharing-boombox-raised-over-head-endless-love kind of soul mate immediately available, we decided to buy an economy pack of Power Rangers valentines at Wal-Mart and go to town. We personalized the valentine with a mix of heartfelt well-wishes, sappy love song lyrics, dirty limericks, and used our combined superpowers to inspire a genuine joie de vivre in our fellow loveless saps—spending the world’s most-loathed holiday brightening the day of every McDonald’s drive thru worker or gas station attendant we came across. Even though a come-hither look from an otherwise surly-looking guy at the third gas station made me question the sensibility of Operation Valentine, I felt positively high on happiness from the ridiculousness of it. Something as impulsive and random as wooing complete strangers brings you as “into the moment” as you can get. It makes me feel young; it makes me feel truly alive.
So go ahead—indulge in a good laugh. Take the day off to do something really, really stupid—yell at random people on the street, order a Big Mac in the Taco Bell drive thru, hide a man-thong in your guy friend’s gym bag—and just try to get kicked out of Wal-Mart. Every once in a while, it’s good to be up to no good. When I do something stupid for no reason, for a few moments, I’m not some responsible, perfect over-achiever—Just a kid getting into a little bit of trouble. And that’s okay. I believe in doing stupid stuff every once in a while because every little thing you do for the plain, simple fun of it—every chance taken—makes every moment one more minute you lived to the fullest.