A beautiful afternoon, while I was sitting on a bench at a park near my house contemplating life, the sound of children playing and laughing nearby caught my attention.
Their laughter and happiness brought on a bliss that I rarely feel.
At that exact moment, all my anxieties seemed to have evaporated, making life look beautiful and meaningful once more.
Those brief thirty-minute observing the children play made me realize that there are critical life lessons we can learn from them.
Despite having more obligations than a child, we can still draw from them to savor a more joyful and a less stressful life.
I am sharing nine lessons I learned that day with you.
“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”Seneca
Table of Contents
Every Day Is a New Day
The worries of adult life often interfere with our joie de vivre. To live a happier existence, we can center our minds to the present instead of relegating mistakes or focusing unduly on the future.
Avoid worrying about problems that are beyond your control. The mental energies we spend in distress leave no space for creative thinking, problem solving, and pleasure. Worrying less will not only bring you more life satisfaction, it will also improve your health and relationships. Every day is a fresh start, make the most of it!
Make Every Little Thing Count
How mindful would you be going down a slide? Or looking at the wave of the sea? We often take the little moments that make up life for granted. We share our new BMW on social media, our acceptance to an elite school, or wedding day, but don’t appreciate the air flowing to our lungs or the sun gracing our skin.
Kids, regardless of how mundane the task they’re involved in, give it their undivided attention. It’s exhilarating to expect a promotion, get a raise, or purchase a new house, but it’s also just as important to breathe, communicate with a friend, or savor a cat playing. Cherish each moment, just as a child would.
Never Stop Asking Questions
We are all endowed with the natural ability to question everything. That’s how we make sense of everything around us. However, as we age, that natural sense of wonder diminishes. It’s not a coincidence given we spend our school year learning to answer questions. Research has shown that curiosity is directly associated with the hippocampus, a small organ in the temporal lobe responsible for information processing and long-term memory. Thus, reconnecting with that natural blueprint will not only increase our memory but also will decrease internal inconsistencies, and make us happier.
“Play is the highest of form of research.”Albert Einstein
Being playful is not just a childish way of expressing oneself, but a demonstration of true inner joy and satisfaction. Playfulness can increase our creativity, strengthen our resilience to face life adversities, and imagination. David M. Keller, co-founder of IDEO and Abraham Maslow, credit their playfulness for their most important breakthroughs. If you look back at those moments you were playful, you’ll certainly recall being at your best.
“Play energizes and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.”Stuart Brown
Don’t Let People’s Judgment Stop You
Exterior pressures lead to timidity, aversion to risk, complacency, and skepticism. As we grow older, we want to be right lest we be judged by others. That fear of being judged paralyzes us from fully enjoying our lives. How would your life be different if you didn’t let other people’s opinion of you deter you? Obviously, we still need to respect others, but if we let go of that fear, we’ll increase our capacity for joy and happiness.
“Our children can be our greatest teachers if we are humble enough to receive their lessons.”Bryan McGill
Learn to Forget
Children, even after being reprimanded, possess the extraordinary power to let go and move on with no resentment. This is a skill that adults can learn with dedication, just like any other. I am not saying it’s unhealthy to be angry, but when we hold on to anger longer than necessary, we sabotage ourselves, destroy our happiness and health. Recall someone you need to forgive, call them right now, and forgive and see how you feel.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”Andre Gide
Ever take the time to watch a kid learn to walk? They stand up, fall, and stand up again. They don’t worry about falling and will try as much as possible until they master their skills. But as we get reprimanded at home and at school for making mistakes, our natural tendency to experiment dims.
Achieving success requires the ability to handle failure. If your failures are being used, and perceived for what they are — temporary setbacks to strengthen us — then you are ready to enjoy life on a whole new level.
Yours Dreams Can Come True
Dreaming is essential for a life of productivity and fulfillment. We are born with the ability to dream, but as we age, life’s many challenges close us off to dreaming and growing. Just like a child, step out of your head, dream as if reality had no bearing on you living your dreams. Remember, our dreams are often our best weapon against the negative pulls of past regrets and current challenges.
The World Is Your Oyster
The little voice in your head telling you it’s too good to be true becomes stronger with age. Just like a toddler, it’s absolutely necessary you remind yourself that nothing is too good for you, no matter how undeserving it may seem. As children of God, we have the right to the best there is if we work hard enough for it. Operating within the confines of the belief that nothing outstanding is supposed to happen to us limits from ever doing anything great and enjoying life. Get up and get ready. The best is yet to come!
Learning to maintain that natural state of happiness by emulating a child should not be a euphoria, but a goal that we all can attain. As Henry James puts it: “Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that, what have you had?” May you enjoy a happy and fulfilling life that I believe is yours by right.