The owner and CEO of The Studio (MDR), Lisa Hirsch, talks about the newest way she’s finding happiness … one stroke at a time.
Recently, on my usual walk around the neighborhood with Willie Meatball Nelson and Mabel (my adorable Brussels Griffins), I saw something that was just so sweet: two young girls leaning against a fence, cruiser bikes resting beside them as they ate ice pops. They looked so carefree and happy, and it instantly brought me back to the summers of my childhood, waiting for the Mr. Softee ice cream truck to pass my house while playing with my friends in the pool.
These days, the demands of work and life tend to keep me so busy that I rarely savor these simple summer joys. Who’s with me? When’s the last time that the thing that mattered most to you was how great your ice pop tasted on a warm summer day?
When I got home from my walk that day I decided to take a plunge—literally. I signed up for swimming lessons, hoping they’d infuse a little fun (and a big challenge) into my every day. I’m loving it more than I thought I would, and struggling as much as I anticipated (but that’s another story for another day!).
For starters, there’s something so meditative about the repetition of breath and movement. There’s so much for the mind to focus on—the strokes, the breathing, the kicking—that it’s almost impossible to let my brain wander to my insanely long list of to-dos. Then, there’s the silence. When you swim, you’re literally suspended under water for about half the time you’re doing it. No music. No talking. No listening to others talk. Diving into that silence after every breath feels like a gift each time, and it has helped me find a lot more peace even when I’m not in the pool.
Hopping back into the pool has also reminded me of an important lesson, and one that I think can help everyone—whether you feel like you’re in a great place or a bad one, whether you’re calm or stressed, feeling happy or sad: When you mix up your usual routine with something new, it can breathe new life into everything.
Each time I show up at the pool in Santa Monica to swim, so many metaphors for life end up presenting themselves. I need to learn how to breathe (master this in the water and you’ll absolutely be more conscious of your inhales and exhales on dry land). I need to slow down (when I first get into the pool, I pop into turbo-speed). And I need to find little moments to have just a little more fun (the amount of laughing at myself that I’ve done re-learning the breaststroke is a good start).
I’m going to wrap this up so I can hop on my beach cruiser and go get some ice cream on this beautiful summer day. But before I do, why not let your mind wander back to your most fun summer ever. Then, think about what you can do to infuse this summer with a little more joy. What are you going to do to remind yourself of how much fun is all around?