I feel compelled to share how I arrived at the illustration to the left as an example that successful ideas are fun and always flock to a playful mind. Author Alan Cohen was a guest on Funniest Thing! with Darrell and Ed—an online radio show that I cohost—and he shared how he used to be a “hard-aholic.” He was convinced, like many of us, that the journey to the top had to be one of sacrifice and struggle. Alan went on to explain how he’s much happier, and attracting much more of what makes him happy, simply by doing the things he feels good about doing.
I have found this to be true on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis. When I first do the things on my to-do list that I’m most enthusiastic about, everything else gets done effortlessly. The challenge of coming up with a full-page illustration and quote for “Darrell’s Corner” in each issue of i-Italy | NY—a magazine that covers all things Italian in America—has taught me to rely on joy as my guide.
I have a routine. After my morning coffee and inspirational readings, I doodle. I begin drawing the first thing that comes to mind. It could be my sleeping dog, a smiling cup of coffee, or a man taking a selfie with a cat on his head. The key is that I ignore reason. I ignore what I think I should be drawing and trust my intuitive thoughts instead. This takes courage because these intuitive thoughts are usually ridiculous. It feels risky to do this, but every time I abandon myself to follow a silly hunch, I’m thrilled with the results. It’s taught me to aim for joy rather than perfection or approval.
On one morning of doodling, a man joyfully tipping back an espresso cup began to take shape on my pad. Right before I was about to draw in the espresso, inspiration whispered into my inner ear, “It would be fun to draw the stream of espresso pouring into the word ‘yes’ inside his mouth.” So I did just that and, as always when I carry out a hunch, I loved how it turned out.
Recently I’ve gotten into the habit of recording myself with my smartphone while drawing these doodles. When I’m done, I get ahold of my friend Edward Biagiotti, a musician. He joins me in singing a humorous soundtrack we feel inspired to accompany the video. For this particular video, we had the hunch to sing “That’s Amorè.” As soon as we were done, I was inspired once again. This would be my submission to i-Italy | NY. The inspiration was just one minor adjustment: replacing the word Yes with Amorè.
I’m not surprised but I’m always in awe every time I experience proof that trying hard to succeed at anything will never work as well as having fun.