Yet somehow this past weekend I got tricked into playing a game with my brother-in-law Dee. I hadn’t played tennis in years, but Dee and I managed to scrounge around my dad’s basement to find two wooden rackets and a tube of balls. Even though each tennis ball was sunfaded to its own unique shade of light green and the rackets were made before I was born, they managed to do the trick.
We played five minutes before losing two of the balls. I nailed one over the fence into a dense patch of shrubs and Dee hammered one behind the neighbor’s shed. But we kept going and managed to whack our remaining ball around for about forty-five minutes, slowly getting a little bit better, then a little bit better.
By the end we were wet sweaty messes. I had a bit of a Smiley Face on my T-shirt, with two dark sweatstains below my man-boobs and a big one over my apparently sweaty belly button. Foreheads dripping, sweatstaches glistening, we headed back to my parents’ place tired and satisfied.
And while collapsing on the couch and peeling off my sticky socks, I started thinking there sure is something great about anything that gets you really, really sweaty:
• Intergenerational dancing at wedding. We’ve chatted about this before but when you’re grooving with your six-year-old cousin or shaking your rumpa rumpa at the back of the conga line, you’re loving the late-night sweat-dancing that comes with shaking your well-dressed groove thing until late at night.
• Doing something that scares you. Maybe you’re rocking the sweaty armpits before writing a big math test, about to launch into a makeout session with your new beau, or giving a speech at your daughter’s wedding. And sure, these things are stressful — but how good does it feel after you nail them and walk out clean the other side? Sweat marks the day.
• Chilling on the beach under the sun. Sure, we know too much sun ain’t great for you, but when those wavy rays are beating down while you’re playing in the waves, building sandcastles, or just lying around, well that’s a beautiful feeling. Let your skin glisten and be happy to soak it all in.
• Saunas. This is the laziest way to get sweaty. The only requirements are being able to sit on a towel. If you can do that, you pass, so just smile and enjoy the drips.
• Playing drums for two straights hours in a rock concert. Sometimes you see a drummer really going at it, wet hair flying everywhere, eyes squeezed shut, and glistening cheeks. I say these hardcore rockers deserve a bullet point all their own.
Yes, today we say that anything that gets you really, really sweaty feels pretty good. It’s a sign your body is cooling itself while engaging in something fun. Nerds even suggest sweating is great for you physically, too — opening up your pores like a fancy steam facial and containing a natural antibiotic that helps kill bacteria on your skin.
Push harder, reach higher, play stronger, live longer.
I sometimes write for Harvard Business Review. Check out my articles here.