“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” Franklin P Jones
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Children – our future and our past. We’ve all been a child, and many of us will also raise one.
As an adult, it’s easy to assume that this grown up, rational state we inhabit now is superior. Yet, spend any time with children and you remember that kids have a lot to teach us.
1. Have more fun
Spend any time hanging out with a 2 year old and you’ll realist that they like to have fun.
It’s joyful to paint all over the kitchen table, roll around laughing at the funny cow in a can noise thing, climb through a play tunnel for hours, hide behind the door and play peek-a-boo. In fact it’s a laugh riot.
Somewhere in the Laws of Adult, most of these games become verboten. We have to suppress our emotions, act stiff and try to protect our dignity. Sure we can laugh at other people, preferably behind their backs. However, good old fashioned innocent fun and play is banned.
I’ve spent a lot more time playing recently – just throwing out dumb word association games, dancing around singing into a hairbrush, a spot of tickling here and there. Try it out for yourself – fight back against the fun ban!
2. You are allowed to daydream
Grown ups rarely daydream. The adult world considers them to be naively hilarious and a sign of weakness. Here is what often happens when an adult shares their burning dream:
Person A: I’ve always dreamt of being a polar explorer and I think I’m going to go after it
Person B: Snigger. Good luck with that – send my love to the polar bears. See you back in the cube farm next week.
Dreaming is seen as childish and foolish. Wasting time going after doing what you really want when you could be getting on with your serious, boring adult life.
Children love to dream. They use their imagination and create amazing possibilities.
Dreaming is a healthy way of stretching ourselves. It gives us a roadmap for making the life we want. Reconnect to what makes you excited.
3. The world is infinitely fascinating
I was probably the world’s most annoying child. I fired out questions like a machine gun to anyone in range. “What’s that called?”, “How does that work?”, “Why did that person say that?”, “Where are my Christmas presents hidden?” etc. Children stare in wild-eyed wonder at the world and want to know all about it.
As adults we are told that we should be very clever and already understand everything. There is a stigma about asking too many questions – we might show our weakness, reveal some ignorance, people might think less of us. Horrors.
As we stop asking questions and getting stuck on the hamster wheel of life, the world around us can lose its sparkle and appear mundane. We take the amazing people and things around us for granted.
See what happens when you start to be more interested in the world around you and engage with it.
4. You can express your emotions
When a child is upset, you know about it. No wait, you KNOW about it. Same when they are happy, joyful, bored, angry, afraid. Bottling up emotions is simply not an option. When a child feels something, they tell the world.
The adult world teaches us that suppressing our emotions is important. We shouldn’t inflict our feelings on others. Better to keep them locked up and spend time brooding over them. Or suppress our natural joy over something in case we make a fool of ourselves. Frankly a lot of the time, this leads to unnecessary suffering when simply expressing ourselves would be the better option.
Learning to express our emotions effectively is important. I’ve really worked on understanding my feelings and being able to put them into words and actions. Letting them out into the world as they arise has taken a huge amount of weight off me and I feel lighter for it.
5. You should live in the moment
Children are born with very little conception of time. When you’re young, your only concern is what is happening right now at this very moment. The past is quickly forgotten, and the future is of no importance.
When children play, they are absolutely absorbed in the game. Just watch for a minute or two – eyes wide open, face alert and active, attention unwavering on what is unfolding. Kids are mini Zen-masters.
We are taught to analyze everything, to pore over the past for what we did wrong, and to constantly be setting out a better future for ourselves. How often do you really live in the moment as an adult? Try it and see how different the world looks.
Release your inner child
I know that I learn a huge amount when I let my inner child out to play.and try these things It keeps me open to learning, joy, curiosity, authenticity. I get back into living in the moment.
Over to you
How do you connect to you inner child? What do you learn from doing so? If you have children, what have they taught you? What would happen if you spent the day living like a child?
Photo credit : Ernst Moeksis on Flickr