…by Prill Boyle
In this economy, it\’s easy to think that pursuing a passion is a luxury we can\’t afford. But here\’s what I think: Can we afford not to follow our hearts? (How far does our pessimism ripple outward when we\’re unhappy?) Can we afford not to be positive role models for the next generation? Can America, can an imperiled earth, truly afford less?

When we ask ourselves what gives us joy and make room for that in our lives, even just a few moments here and there, it\’s not only us that reaps the benefit; it\’s everyone. Take Matt Harding. Hailing from my hometown of Westport, Connecticut, Matt opted not to go to college, becoming a video game designer instead. Just for the heck of it, he began doing a goofy little dance to amuse himself and his co-workers. But after a few years on the job he grew tired of staring at a computer screen all day and decided to get out and see the world. Using some cash he\’d saved, he embarked on a six-month journey. Everywhere he went, he videotaped himself doing his dance. He had no grand plan to achieve fame and fortune. He just thought it would be fun to document himself dancing in different locations. Then he started inviting others to dance with him and videotaped that as well. Friends started posting his videos on their websites and blogs. The media eventually took notice.

Now, five years later, Stride chewing gum company is actually paying Matt good money to travel around the world and do his goofy dance. (He\’s been to 42 countries so far.) People everywhere are enthralled by this guy. I was eating breakfast one morning when my husband ran into the kitchen, grabbed my hand and said, “Come here! You\’ve got to see this!” He showed me a YouTube video of Matt Harding dancing. This video has had over 4 million hits! The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Good Morning America had him dance on their show. The New York Times did a big story on him. Without viewing his videos, one might easily wonder what all the hoopla is about. But when people see this guy dance, they can\’t help but smile. Simply by doing something that gives him joy, Matt Harding has made the world a better place.

Prill Boyle is the author of Defying Gravity: A Celebration of Late-Blooming Women (Emmis Books, 2004). To read more inspiring stories, tips, and anecdotes, go to Prilll\’s blog at defyinggravitynow.blogspot.com.