Inspired by a quote on Facebook, I felt compelled to think about this and offer up my thoughts for discussion.
A child's world is not caught up with complexity. They have a small sphere of understanding, which keeps them in a beautiful space of innocence and simplicity. The joy they get from a cardboard box, a tennis ball or a shinny coin is so much more than the materialistic value of an Xbox or an expensive toy. They have no judgements about value or meaning - just whether it brings instant joy or piques their curiosity.
I remember one Christmas, when we had friends staying with two young boys. They took 30 minutes or so ripping open their presents with wild excitement and then it started to snow. In that moment, the fun they had with the simplicity of sledging and making angels in the snow far outweighed the money that their parents had spent on their gifts.
I love that view of simplicity and the realisation that it is only a state of mind. Children teach us to see the real beauty in simple things. The other stuff is just that - stuff. It is only complex because we complicate matters with the capacity of our over-analytical mind. If we could just slow down and see the beauty in what is in front of us, how much more joyful could the world be?
Have you ever stopped to watch children play? They have an insatiable appetite for having fun, laughing and playing in the world of their imagination. Whether it is a game of Tag or making a story out of sandcastles, they have an incredible creativity when they are young that is quite enviable. School and society soon create a conditioning that structures and mechanises the world and yet before this, a child's desire to be playful is incredible to watch.
Our Godson came to stay over the holidays with his brother and we visited the beach. They thought it would be fun, as the tide was out to run bear foot in the sand and splash each other with the water left behind by the retreating sea. The one who was the driest, won. In my conditioned and structured adult mind I found myself more concerned with whether they would cut their feet on something and getting home in the car with wet clothes - how stifled was my playfulness? I remembered thanking them that night, when we put their tired and contented bodies to bed, for helping me remember the importance of the joyfulness of play.
Could we play just a little bit more? Could we get outside and do something that society says is inappropriate or unhealthy? Buy a kite, take your shoes off, build a sandcastle - anything that helps your playful spirit have some fun in our serious, serious world.
There are so many video clips around at the minute on Facebook, You Tube and other sources that show young babies laughing. What is it that triggers that magical giggle? Often it's the dog or dad pulling a funny face, may be just a tickle under the ribs. A child's perspective is so much more simple than ours that they find the smallest things to laugh about. I do feel that we have lost the freedom to laugh - it almost feels naughty when there's so much 'bad stuff' going on out there. Except, just imagine for a minute. If each one of us reading this blog decided to laugh, just a little more - collectively there would be a whole lot more happy, joyful vibrations around, which as we know is quite simply contagious and we'd feel better to boot. Lovely lesson kids - thank you.
4. Expressing what they want
Wow they're good at that aren't they? Whether it's a cuddle, food or a nappy change the child's ability to express their needs is second to none. Now with my Assertive Development hat on, I would argue that their expression is not an ideal lesson for us adults, although their carefree abandon is. They are not wrapped up in fear, guilt and anxiety about whether they should ask for something. They don't worry about whether it will upset someone - boy, they just go for it. Tantrums, screaming, demanding.
Now please I'm not advocating that behaviour - let me make that totally clear. I am though really appreciating the space from which they express themselves. That space is free from fear, hang ups and judgement. They have a need to be filled and they request it - period.
Imagine if we could let go of our expression issues and find more courage to ask for what we need, in an appropriate way? What if we could let go of our fears, which, let's face it, we have learnt and are just fallacies of the mind? What if we could remind ourselves of our ability to ask and receive without all the self-talk that trips us up along the way?
As I kid I remember following my dad into the forest when we went camping and jumping across the big ditches, climbing the big trees and splashing into the freezing cold streams. I didn't give any of those actions a second thought. I just copied my dad. If it was safe for him, it must be safe for me. Yet that level of sophisticated thinking didn't enter my head. I just did it and I loved it. Mum must have been having kittens watching!
When did I get so fearful of taking big action? What conditions and self-doubts get in my way of doing something that will bring me change,, results or happiness? When did I begin to think about whether it was safe, if I might get hurt or more importantly, whether I could achieve it? Somewhere along the line we loose our innate ability to do things without being encumbered with fear. Now for sure there are factors that need taking into account - I get that. Although let's live a little more like kids, abandon our fears and take a few calculated (may be) risks. What's that quote,
"The man that risks nothing, does nothing, is nothing and has nothing. Only the man who risks is free."
6. Being in the moment
I get the feeling that children have a great ability to be in the now. I have little recollection of worrying about what I did yesterday or what I would do tomorrow as a young girl. Life just flowed. Sometimes this was mum and dad's flow although it never occurred to me to worry about it. Life was just what it was.
A child's brain has not developed enough to create the contexts of past and future, there is only the moment for them. And more importantly they don't even question it - that is their reality. This is a great reminder from kids to stay in the present moment. Whilst it is true that our mind has developed a greater thinking capability as adults, we have the choice of staying in the present. Apply the lovely simplicity that children offer us, just sometimes and watch your joy increase.
7. Asking questions
Ok, so I know it can be really annoying. The child's need to learn is inexhaustible. 'Why is there a moon mummy?' 'Why is the sea blue?' 'Where did I come from?' Their insatiable thirst for knowledge is incredible, albeit a tad irritating when we're on the other end of it.
Yet there is another lesson they teach us. Questions are their route to learning, growth, knowledge and understanding. If we could ask more questions, be more open to explore, be curious and be willing to learn new things, what more could we achieve? After all, every day is a school day. Start to ask better questions and see how the world of well-being opens up for us.
Well I'm sure having read this blog, there are plenty more lessons that you can acknowledge, especially if you're a parent, a teacher or carer. So let's have the discussion; how else can we learn from children if we suspended our adult ego long enough to spot the opportunities? Children refer to us as Grown Ups, although I don't think we're all that grown up - there's still so much for us to learn and from the most amazing sources.
With gratitude to all the kids who have helped me grow and who will, undoubtedly, continue to help me along my path.
"When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear."
With blessings and love