Children are full of innate intelligence and wisdom. Sure they lack the ability to perform complex physical and mental tasks like baking a cake or doing their parents’ accounting, but they can learn that later, and besides they can do something much more exciting! A basically healthy kid can experience the full range of human emotion truly and freely. They can look upon the world with fresh eyes and listen without judging. They live in a state in which a hug and a lollipop can fix a grazed knee. They are content with little, and yet feel richer than Bill Gates. The healthy child continually questions everything; never satisfied with the first answer given.
So let’s take a look at 7 things that kids do that we, as adults, should do as well if we want to become happier, healthier individuals!
1: View Life as if For The First Time - I have a song called “She Came From Outer Space” in which a humanoid alien crash lands on Earth and is shocked by the cruelty with which it’s inhabitants treat each other. What would it be like to see things again for the very first time without all the beliefs and justifications we’ve developed over a lifetime? When I take my walks I like to imagine that I am seeing the wonders of nature and human engineering with fresh eyes. I marvel at the trees in all their grace and majesty like a child does. I look at the people, really look hard as though it is all new to me. It’s a wonderful perspective, and it yields great insights!
2: Bed Time Stories - Whether you are in a partner relationship or you live with friends or family, reading bed time stories to each other is a fantastic way to bond, strengthen relationships through routine and, of course, have a lot of fun in the process! Whether it’s the classic fairy tales and fables of The Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Aesop, or the blood and boobs of Game of Thrones, reading to a friend, or being read to is a really fun experience, and the perfect way to wind down after a big day. You’re never too old for bed time stories!
3: Question Everything - At some point, many of us simply give up asking: why. Everyone knows that academic institutions are designed to promote conformity and dissuade young people from questioning the accepted knowledge of the time and the systems that perpetuate it. And yet we also know that the greatest medical, scientific, mathematical, literary, artistic and philosophical breakthroughs have all come through bucking the trend and finding new ways to look at things. A toddler’s favorite word is “Why”, and according to the like of Socrates, it should remain a favorite throughout our lives! Never stop questioning.
4: Take a Nap - The majority of young kids like taking midday naps. I was never one of those, I was far too full of energy! However into my adult life napping is something that I’ve made part of my routine at least a few times per week. Taking a nap every day, or a few times per week can significantly increase your focus, alertness, memory and overall health. If you have the flexibility to be able to add naps to your routine it comes highly recommended as you’ll see an increase in your productivity and energy. And if not, try to take one on the weekend. Even a 30 minute nap can make the world of difference!
5: Express Your Emotions Freely - As we grow we are taught to withhold emotions. These include sadness, aggression and even happiness at times! Perhaps a young boy is told not to cry after hurting himself during a soccer match, or a group of giggling kids are asked to “shut up” by their teacher during class. Of course it is unrealistic to expect that any emotional reaction will be appropriate for any occasion, however stifled emotions can and do result in a whole host of emotional, psychological and even physical issues eventually. I recommend everyone; men, women, boys and girls of all ages cry freely when they feel like it, either through sadness, happiness, frustration or something else. I suggest we all laugh unrestrained, and express our aggression in a health manner such as through exercise or a creative process like art or songwriting. You will notice that young kids can go from bawling to brimming with joy in a matter of minutes. They can experience the full spectrum of human emotion freely and easily, and so can you if you want to!
6: Play in the Park - What kid doesn’t love to go to the park on a sunny day and kick a ball or spin a hoola hoop without a hint of self consciousness! As we grow we naturally slow down and seek more chilled out pursuits, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy some physical fun! Don’t be afraid to get a little silly. Throw a Frisbee, play ball, do a cartwheel! Your body will thank you for the work out and your emotional state will lift as you unreservedly enjoy the simple pleasure of what nature has to offer. No one is “too cool” to enjoy themselves!
7: Listen With Non-Judgmental Ears - Interpersonal communication, especially between friends, family members and intimate partners, is such a minefield because as we listen we judge every word and interpret them as attacks! This is the basic theory of Marshall B Rosenberg, founder of “Non-Violent Communication”. Imagine if, like a young child, we could listen to those around us without pre-conceived notions, beliefs and judgments, and instead simply hear their unmet need. Even the most “attacking” sounding phrases such as “You never love me enough” are simply an attempt to have a need met; they are not attacks at all. When we listen like a child we do not become offended, we simply ask “So you are saying that you need me to show you affection more often, right?”, “Yes! That’s exactly it, I’d like that a lot. Thank you.”
Next time someone close is speaking to you, try to forget all the history and listen with fresh, childlike ears. Do not become offended, this is not an attack no matter how harsh it sounds. Simply listen and find their unmet need.
In general as a society we are so focused on what we can teach our children and how best to do it that we often overlook the important lessons that they can teach us! These are just a few things, but there is so much more. Think about how children experience the world, and incorporate their spontaneous, non-judgmental and inquisitive nature into your life!
What aspect of children do you think we can learn the most from? Thanks for reading, all the best
- I Must be Crazy
- A Hymn of Praise for My Daughter
- Breastfeeding Doesn’t Have to be a Let Down
- A Letter for Peace to my Child
- Honest Kids
Rohan Healy is the author of “Greeks to Geeks: Practical Stoicism in the 21st Century”, “The 7 Things That Made Me Genuinely & Irreversibly Happy: And How They Can Do The Same For You”, “SEX, Not as a Separate Subject: A Guide to Great Sex with Great People” and Sci Fi Action/Adventure novel Gyaros: The Mice Eat Iron!
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