Today I listened into a talk that Topobo.com founder Hayes Raffle gave to all the kids that gathered at Google. Besides demonstrating some really awesome toys — see the video at the end of this post — he also said something to the kids that I found interesting. His advice was this:
If you want to be a happy adult you should try to do what made you happy when you were about seven years old.
I like the notion that we never really change at heart, and I like to think that what I loved then could translate into what I love doing now. It was a bit of a reminder to always ask myself every day if I am doing enough of what I really love, of what I really care about. The mirror test that Jobs is said to have applied is a version of this, I guess. What other tricks are there out there for ensuring that you are really living the life you want? And they can be controversial. Back in 2006 I travelled in the US and met with DC Dennett who I have enormous respect for, and his recipe was the opposite. Take what you are really good at and do it. That will give you recognition, and that is what makes people happy. Don’t waste time asking what you “love” – implicitly – because ultimately you love that in yourself which others recognize you for. Reminds me of one of the more bitter epigrammes of Nietzsche: “it is not enough to have talent, is it, my friends? one has to have your approval for the talent as well.”
I think I end up on the side of the Toymaker. Here are some of his toys: