Quit "should-ing" all over yourself and get all the endorphins with DANCE WALK

Updated Jan 16 2016
Guest post by Amber

dance-walking

I have a simple rule for my life: Don't say "should." The word "should" makes me feel guilty, cranky and unmotivated. It turns every activity into a dreadful chore. It usually goes like this: "I should exercise, I should be more social, I should…" [Hides in bed and mainlines Netflix.] The word "could," however, is full of magical possibilities!

As I was reading through all the brilliant suggestions for offbeat hobbies, I found myself should-ing all over the place. Every time someone mentioned running, my brain said, "Yes, hrm, I really should do that." Then I noticed every time someone mentioned dancing, I felt longing. When I finally realized what I was doing, I said, "Hey, I could dance." I stopped, searched Meet-Up for dancing, and found THE MOST AMAZING GROUP EVER.

It's called Dance Walk, and it is inspired by this youtube video:

It's simply (brilliantly!) a group of people who get together and dance party their way down a street.

I showed up for an evening Dance Walk downtown with my friend Christopher to find a large, friendly group of mostly women. The leaders welcomed everyone and gave us the three rules of Dance Walk:

  1. Take care of yourself — drink water, take breaks, whatever you need.
  2. Take care of each other — if you see someone falling behind, tell the group to wait up.
  3. Take turns helping out. There was a speaker attached to a dolly for music that we wheeled around and a group camera for documentation.

Then we took off! We wiggled, shook, skipped and grooved down the wide sidewalk of a busy downtown street, where we got honks, cheers, and "What are you guys doing??" hollers. I immediately felt happy — happy all the way through. I turned to Christopher and said, "How many kinds of endorphins is this? Exercise endorphins, dance endorphins, being silly endorphins, being outside endorphins!"

"Making new friends endorphins!" he said.

dw darth vaderWhile we danced in place at a stoplight, we spotted lightsabers in the park across the street. We unanimously decided to dance-walk our way over to investigate. We boogied into Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and a couple other folks getting their LARP on. As if this wasn't great enough, we could now see further into the park where there was a color-changing fountain sparkling under the city skyline. We danced around this discovery, and Christopher and I even ran through it without getting too wet and earned some cheers from our group.

It was the most surreal, silly and deliciously absurd experience I've had in a long time. I couldn't stop smiling afterward. As I was in a weird half-conscious state in bed that night, I thought I was covered in small, cartoonish butterflies of every pastel color. As I felt the light flutters over my whole body, I thought, "Oh! That's what endorphins are!" I felt all warmly happy and fell deeply asleep.

As time passes since Dance Walk (and I write about it for a public audience), my brain really, really wants to discount all of this as ridiculous, frivolous and certainly not what I "should" be doing with my time. But you know what? "Should-ing" makes me unhappy. Remembering endorphins-as-butterflies motivates me to seek out more great experiences that I could have. And what else "should" I really be doing with my one precious life?

I can't wait for the next Dance Walk.

  1. Apart from how awesome Dance Walking sounds, it's really interesting that when you turn "should" into "could" it makes even a chore feel more positive.

    When you anticipate doing something fun you consider how to make it the most enjoyable experience. By using "could" for a dull task it also makes you consider what opportunities might hide within.

    "I could wash up … listening to my favourite radio show!"
    "I could walk the dog … and treat myself to an icecream on the way home!"
    "I could take my [dull relative] out … to see that show I've been dying to see."

    or even

    "I could clean out the cat litter … and the room won't smell! Yay!"

  2. Thanks for this article! I struggle with too many "shoulds" in my life too. I love your idea to use "could" instead! "Should" means Ug, I have to do this thing but I really don't want to. "Could" opens up all kinds of possibilities and changes the way I think about it! Thanks for articulating something I have felt but never been able to put into words.

    PS – Your Dance Walk discovery sounds amazing!

    • Right on. I also like that "could" gives me the chance to see why I am resistant and make a realistic choice. For example, if I say "I should exercise" but I can't bring myself to do it, I just failed in my obligation to exercise. If I say, "I could exercise," I can think about it as a possibility: is it really a good fit for me right now? Sometimes, yes! Sometimes, "Oh, I don't want to because I haven't eaten enough today. I'll eat a snack and then see if I feel like it." Then if I don't exercise, I know that I intentionally chose not to and I can feel good about that. If I do, I can enjoy it instead of willpower gritting-my-teeth through it. Win-win!

  3. I remember your comment from that monster thread! That video makes me really happy. Maybe one day I'll get to try something like that.

    But then, I'm also one of those nutters who likes running, and when it comes to dance I tend to think, "I should find a way to do that such that I don't feel super awkward and bad at dancing." Sounds like it's time to start thinking, "I could find a group of people who like being silly and dancing in public, and join them because those things sound fun."

    • Love the re-frame! You totally could. This group was great for me because there was no being "good at dancing" required. It's all about moving the body happily through the world! Good luck!

  4. Megan, those butterflies on the picture are perfect! It made me smile so much to see this morning. Thanks for bringing my dreamy vision to life!

  5. My dog gets seriously concerned with the people who spar in the park by our house. I think she's worried they are fighting, because as soon as they stop, she is fine. I can't IMAGINE what she would think while encountering a group like this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love how you replace should with could. That concept is really meaningful to me this week, so thank you!

  6. Wish I could do this right now but the sidewalks are icy sheets of ass breaking mayhem so I will stick to my living room for now.

    Reminds me of this. Either way, whatever works for you to get up, get outside and get moving! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yessss Prancercise! hahaha Christopher and I thought the Prancercise lady was hilarious, which is why we were extra excited to find the Dance Walk group!

  7. This is quite possibly the most amazing thing I have ever seen, this NEEDS to happen in my life! Now to talk my husband into it…

  8. I now have a problem. I really want to start dance walking… But it is currently the middle of a bitterly cold winter. D= Curse the timing!

  9. At Wesleyan University, we have a SILENT RAVE where everyone downloads the playlist to their ipod and we all start it at once and everyone dances for 2 hours in a loop around the campus together. Hundreds and hundreds of students come together and do this. It is AMAZINGLY fun! Yes there is the limitation that people need an mp3 player but it is super fun! I would call it a silent, dance-party- walking-rave

  10. I love this and I just want to take this opportunity to give a huge internet shoutout to the lovely and graceful iman-look-alike woman with the most amazing pale gray waistlength braids who G-R-O-O-V-E-S in this fashion most mornings down boulevard here in atlanta you are an absolute ray of sunshine to my morning slow crawl through red lights I don't know who you are but THANK YOU for sharing your funky fresh dancewalk with us sad commuters!

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