Something happened after the age of 5. It was like a switch was flipped and suddenly, the world became an intimidating, scary place. In those first five years of my life I was bold. I spoke my mind freely. My mother also told me that for some strange reason, when someone got on my nerves, particularly if the person was male, I’d punch them. I was absolutely fearless and felt like I could do anything.
A few years ago, while I was waiting in line in the cafeteria at work, the new cashier struck up a conversation with me. As soon as I mention that I’m in the psychology field, people feel compelled to pose me these deep, existential questions, like I’m a cross-legged yogi with the answers to the universe at my steepled fingertips.
“How come children don’t get stressed like adults?” she asked.
I contemplated her question for a moment. “Children live very much in the moment,” I mused. “They don’t preoccupy themselves with the past, and don’t concern themselves too much about the future. Have you ever watched a child play?” I asked her. “They completely engross themselves in their task, like it’s the only thing that matters. And in that moment, it really is the most important thing.”
Here are some lessons that only a child can teach you:
- Don’t be afraid to express your genuine emotions. There is nothing wrong with admitting when you’re sad, upset, or scared. If you feel like crying, cry.
- Do not under-estimate the power of your imagination. It can take you places that money cannot buy a ticket to. And you know how life coaches and gurus are always suggesting that you visualize yourself achieving what you want? Kids do that with ease every day.
- You don’t need expensive gadgets to be happy. My younger brother would spend hours making creative things out of an empty egg carton. One of my hairdresser’s client’s son spent an hour creating his own village made entirely of hair rollers.
- Kids don’t care about your race or nationality. To them, everyone is the same, and everyone has the potential to be a good friend. It’s worth adding that hate isn’t something we’re born to do, it’s something we learn to do.
- Question everything! Don’t accept knowledge blindly just because someone says it’s so. Be curious, inquisitive, and if you have to, test theories out yourself, because it’s the only way you’ll learn. (No matter how many times we told my brother that an egg will break if he dropped it on the floor, he HAD to see it for himself. His face, as he stared at the mess of broken shells and goo on the floor, was so genuinely surprised and awed that my mother could not get mad at him.).
- Don’t be afraid to dream big. Children dare to believe in the impossible, and recognize that anything can be accomplished if you believe it can.
- Every day holds potential and opportunity. Wake up with a sense of enthusiasm about all that you can accomplish.
- Take risks – and if you mess up, don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from trying again.
- Be proud of your achievements, and accept compliments – you deserve them.
- Do whatever brings you joy – and don’t be afraid to have fun.