It is true children who grow up in very difficult situations, unstable homes, extreme poverty are exposed to the dark side of life and may lose their innocence earlier than others.
But for a moment consider seeing a child as being like a brand new computer with only the system software loaded in it, then you can get a clue of where our problem is as adults. Here you have a child/computer that has all the capacity it will ever have from birth. It has an empty hard drive, pure awareness, that has not been contaminated by any other software, conditioning, and is free to accept what reality has to offer.
Then as we start to teach, condition, these wonderful little beings we create all sorts of nonsense and misidentification. We program them with our religions, our nationalism, our racism, our fears, insecurities, and all other viruses. We contaminate the purity of these bright wonderful little beings, all in the name of love and feeling we are doing the best for them.
For example, when we are born, we fear only two things: falling and loud noises. All other fears are instilled in us by the people we grow up around. Some of these fears are legitimate and necessary for living in a modernized world, like being hit by a car. Others are completely unnecessary and serve only to hinder us from being everything we can be.
Ask yourself: When did your life shift from fearlessness to playing it safe? If we let fear get in the way, we trade innovation for stagnation… genius for mediocrity … adventure for boredom. Which sounds better to you?
A child is also told to “never talk to strangers!” But the “don’t talk to strangers” lesson seems to stick way past childhood. Of course, there is a right time and a wrong time to open up communication. But the point being is who knows who you might meet or what you might learn by striking a small conversation with a stranger. Plus what is a friend before he/she is a friend but a stranger. Remember: Friendships always matter because it really is all about relationships!
When you’re a kid, any activity can be fun for hours and hours. Legos, playing ‘house,’ hide-and-go-seek and of course action figures were all sources of endless enjoyment. So what happened? As adults we can barely watch the same TV show for 30 minutes without looking for something better. Take a moment by attempting to re-live the wonder of childhood by viewing the world from a different perspective by discovering the beauty you have around you even in the smallest things. You can then apply that same perspective to bigger and even more fantastic things.
Children have no biases when it comes to love. If you smile at a child, he/she will beam a huge smile back at you for no reason other than your presence. Children do not love with expectation of something better in return, they just love. Their love is unconditional like the rays of a sunbeam. It is a kind of love that comes straight from the heart, without preconditions or expectations.
This kind of love is something that we can still access as adults – inside the deepest part of our being there is an instinctive yearning to reach out to people, to empathize, and when we give this love to others our own deepest part is fulfilled.
And it’s okay to be childish! Reaching a certain age does not mean we need to act that age all the time. Maturity is sometimes extremely overrated. Life shouldn’t be taken that seriously. You might as well act like a kid sometimes and have fun living in the moment.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and no fun to be around, and not very effective at work. Play is not a frivolous waste of time; it is essential in keeping our energy and creativity going.
As we grow older, our thoughts become increasingly focused on either the past or the future instead of the now. We consume ourselves about things that happened and worrying about things that may never happen. But for a child, everything is unfolding in real-time before their eyes as they have not yet learnt the art of being consumed by past or future.
For a child, everything, even the most ordinary objects has to be investigated, touched, and experienced. Ordinary things like a dog barking in the street or the postman delivering post through the letterbox often have children pointing in open-mouthed wonder. And yet as little as thirty years later, as adults, this constant questioning and discovery of children sometimes irritates us because we have ‘much more important’ things to do!
Wonder is one of the most important tools we have in our lives, no matter what age we are. When we wonder about everything, we remain curious and interested in everything and everyone around us, always looking for possibilities. World-changing innovations grow from wonder (Steve Jobs, anyone?).
As adults, we come to realize that we are messed up machines. We feel one thing, do another, hide our true feelings, and lie almost constantly to ourselves and those around us. We need to erase our hard drives and start fresh again.
As we start to question our beliefs, conditioning, and concepts, we are in fact erasing a lot of nonsense from our minds/hard drives. Each time we go a little deeper we are becoming more childlike with the openness and wonder that fills their hearts. That state can scare some of us who still carry the ego image of who we think we are. It makes us feel insecure to face the fact that we ourselves are only a complex concept.
Once one gets past that level of fear and let’s go, not as an act of ego but as openness to life in simplicity, then the door to Reality can open. You will find yourself a child again with the innocence that we all once had. You will not have to pretend you love when you do not. You cannot help but love, not as an act, but as an expression of the Life that you are.
Simple Life Lessons Children Can Teach Us:
- It’s ok to color outside of the lines
- Laugh out loud
- Ask lots of questions because that’s how you learn
- Believe that anything and everything is possible: DREAM BIG!
- Love unconditionally
- Be fearless
- Live in the moment
- Share your toys
- Don’t hit
- Hold hands
- Too much ice cream (or too much of anything) can give you a stomach ache
- Hug it out
- Get messy. Run through sprinklers, play in mud, finger paint
- Take a nap
- Make time for playtime
- We could all use a good cry every once in a while
- Play fair
- And just be happy.
Children default to “happy” … and you can too. Your mood is actually up to you – it is a choice you can make any time of any day in any situation.
We have the privilege of living on such a beautiful planet, and one way of truly appreciating that is seeing it through the eyes of a child who is discovering everything for the very first time.
As a Dad, I will always be grateful for what I have learned from my two amazing sons, and for what I continue to learn as they grow up quickly from children to adults.