At what age do we lose that feeling of innocence? At what age do we forget to enjoy the small moments?
I've worked with kids for ten years or more at this point. I'm always amazed at how they view the world so differently than adults. I'm not sure when they lose their childish viewpoint - it's probably different for each one - but I do believe that there are many things we can learn from children.
As children, we have no trouble letting our inner uniqueness shine through. As adults, we strive hard to bury that uniqueness deep inside so that no one can see it. I think this need to conform in order to get the "right job" or meet the "right person" is where we start to lose that person we once were. We spend so much time focusing on being "right" that we forget to focus on being ourselves. As you read through my thoughts on what we can learn from children, I want you to remember that there's only one you in the world.
When it comes to emotions, children rarely stop and think about who's watching them. Bump on the head? The tears flow easily. Find something funny? Laughter fills the room quickly. They don't worry about who is watching them. Instead, they simply allow themselves to feel the emotion and then they respond accordingly. As adults, we try to subdue our emotions and forget about them. This leads to pent up frustration and stress that is often unnecessary. Take some time to laugh or cry today and don't worry about what others think of you. Let the emotion come and go and then keep moving forward.
Children take risks. They try new things and they don't really think twice about it. They might fall along the way, but they've learned that it's easy to pick themselves up again to keep going. As adults, we box ourselves in and forget to take risks. We forget to try new things even though we're only granted one life. I'm not suggesting that you put yourself in danger, but I am suggesting that you be a little more daring. Want to try a new restaurant? Go for it! Don't put it off until you're ready - simply take the chance. You really never know until you try.
Kids are constantly on the move and burning energy. This is one of the reasons a lot of us were "skinnier" as a kid. Take a few moments to think about your routine - where could you be more active? Follow the example of kids and add a little more activity into your life. It'll be good for your mind, body, and soul.
A lot of us lose our imagination as we get older. We forget how to play and have fun. Instead, we find ourselves roped into a routine that bores us rather than excites us. Take some time to play today - maybe it's a game from your childhood or a turn on the swings - whatever it is, take some time to play and be imaginative.
Kids are creative in so many ways. They are constantly creating and designing in the most unique ways (think playing with their food). Somewhere on the path to adulthood, we suppress the desire to create and we forget about how fulfilling creativity can be. I'm going to help you out with this one. Take a moment to click on the image below. It will take you to a PDF file that you can print out. Print it out and then set aside some time to simply color. Let the colors and your imagination take over for while.
Have you ever noticed how much easier it was to make friends as a kid? A big part of that is because we were friendlier as children. We put ourselves out there and interacted with others in a safe environment. (Safe meaning we were often under adult supervision.) Why can't we do the same thing as an adult? Find a safe environment and try being friendly. You might be amazed at how people respond to a simple smile or kind word sent their way. Who knows? You might even meet a new friend!
Have you ever been around kids that are having an argument with their friend? It's drama city for about an hour and then they're back to being best friends like nothing happened. From my experience, kids don't hold grudges like adults do. They are able to move on from mistakes a lot easier than we are. Take some time today to figure out who may need a little forgiveness from you and do your best to give it.
Most of the things on this list are things that kids do without thinking twice about it. They aren't trying to impress anyone - they're simply doing what comes naturally for them. Thoughtfulness is no exception. I'm going to give a simple example for this one. There have been several times when I have tripped in front of my students. (What can I say? I'm a little clumsy sometimes.) They're immediate response is to ask if I'm okay - even if they aren't in my class and barely know me. I've also tripped in front of adults before. They tend to be less likely to ask me if I'm okay. Think about how many times a child has cheered you up with a big hug or another gesture of kindness? Whether it's intentional or not, they recognize that thoughtfulness and caring can go a long way. This is a lesson we definitely need to put into practice more.
Remember earlier when I mentioned how kids have an uncanny ability to simply be themselves? I think this is the greatest lesson we can learn from them. It's also the basis for the title of this post - You Do You. Stop trying to please everyone and to fit in with crowds where you don't belong. You're going to be much happier and get much further in life if you simply accept that you are an individual and that's okay. Not everyone is going to like you and that's okay too. At the end of the day, the only person that needs to like you is you.
Have you noticed anything else that we can learn from children? I'd love to hear your ideas and thoughts about these lessons in the comments!