In an old dance hall in Rio de Janeiro, ecstatic dancers bounced and whirled to the rhythm of a Brazilian samba. Smiles were abundant and the energy was palpable. A banner on the back wall read, "As long as we have dance, we still have hope."
After a visit last year, Joe Robinson walked away thinking about recreation's power to lift spirits.
In his recently launched "Live a Little" campaign , the former Los Angeles Times reporter and author of a book called Don't Miss Your Life, encourages Americans to forget the material things this holiday season and instead, to give the gift of fun.
"We can dramatically increase positive mood and self-worth when we get out of our heads and jump into quality recreational experiences," Robinson said. Indeed, people are happiest when they are involved in such activities, at least according to a Princeton study that examined how 4,000 Americans spent their time.
Robinson's campaign aims to rally kayaking outfitters, dance teachers, yoga instructors, and other recreation providers to offer free introductory lessons — gifts of experience that can be more meaningful and valuable than anything shiny and new.