Photo by Matthew Bennion
… And Just as Happy
Why is it that once we become adults, we become so serious all the time (generally speaking). We get so caught up in the hectic race of everyday life that we forget that we are here to experience joy, to experience Life. We forget to smile and enjoy the beauty of the present moment. I notice that I fall into the many demands of my life story. Recently, I have gotten so busy that a week can pass without realizing. I don’t get the chance to slow down once to reflect and to be present. I seem to fall into the pattern of constantly living in the future, running after that next goal or achieving that next task on my never-ending list of Todos. Let’s take this moment to slow down, just for a few minutes.
Small children and family pets (dogs, cats) can serve as great ‘Zen’ teachers. Have you observed them before? Try it. It is so beautiful to watch the innocence of a small child, or a dog. They are so present in the moment, stress-free, open to their feelings and are a bundle of joy. I tell people that my dog Tommy is “made of love” because from observing him, he really is! A fluff of positive energy, which serves as a constant reminder to be positive in any situation and to not take things so seriously. Live life, enjoy the moment.
I also believe that child-like innocence and creativity have a direct connection. I work with lots of artists and creative people, and I have found that child-like innocence are very common among all of them. The purity, the openness, and the awareness of the present moment are clearly shown through interacting with each of them.
We can guide ourselves back to the inner child in us. You ready? Let’s first start with some common traits and characteristics of our cute little ‘Zen masters’:
- Trusting – Children aren’t cynical and they don’t expect disappointment. They have an innate trust of the world and other people.
- Delight – Children are full of wonder and delight. They are amazed at and enjoy the little things. Seeing an airplane in the sky is an incredible thing from a child’s eye.
- Present in the moment – There is no past or future for a child. They are fully engaged in the present moment.
- Forgiveness – It’s possible to hurt a child’s feelings, but they won’t stay mad at you for very long. In fact, they may not get angry at all. Children have a refreshing ability to let go of the past.
- Uninhibited – Children have not yet learned to care what other people think of them, so they are free to do and say the things they truly want to.
- Strong emotion – Have you ever seen a child throw a tantrum? The truly amazing thing about children is that they feel and express emotions ‘fully’ – happiness, anger, fear – and then they move on. They feel and express the emotions fully and completely, but they bounce back quickly. Nothing is suppressed or held back.Children experience things to the fullest, but somewhere along the way toward adulthood, something changes. Through social conditioning, we start to act like other adults, how society expects us to act. We begin to care about what others think. We aren’t always present in the moment. We hold grudges. We stress about our daily problems and tasks, and we don’t get excited about seeing an airplane in the sky anymore.
Each of us will always have that child-like innocence somewhere within us, the part of us who is present, happy, positive, playful, joyous and compassionate. The following are six simple practices to help us free and get in touch with the inner child within us:
1. Being with the moment. Practice being present in the moment, by giving your full attention to each task you perform. I’ve come to realize that it really doesn’t matter what I’m doing, as long as I bring present in the act, I will find joy in it. Regardless of what you are doing, do it fully! Be aware of little details, relax your mind, and bring awareness into everything you are doing.
2. Explore. Practice seeing things from new perspectives. Imagine you are seeing and doing everything for the first time – everything will seem so much more amazing when you view life in that light. What do you notice in this moment doing this task that you haven’t noticed before? Look for small details to appreciate.
3. Laugh & Smile. Nothing can bring out the child in you faster than a good belly laugh. Rent a comedy, tell a joke, act silly with a friend, do a ‘happy dance’. Find something that’ll make you laugh.
4. Play. What did you enjoy doing as a child? Did you jump rope? Ride your bike? Climb a tree? Watch a trail of ants? What’s stopping you from enjoying those simple things now? Give your childhood pastimes a try. You might really enjoy them and brings back fond memories. If not, do something you consider playful as an adult. Pull a prank on a close friend, build a spaceship with Lego, draw with colored crayons, dance like no one’s watching, go to an amusement park, turn up the music real loud and start singing, slide around the house in your underwear. :)
5. Run. If there’s one thing that children are good at, it’s running around (or skipping). They seem to have a never-ending supply of energy. Find a park and try for yourself. (And I’m not talking about exercising. I’m talking about running around for no purpose at all except to have fun.) It’s energizing, right? Combine running with laughing and hilarity will ensue! I periodically do this with my dog. We do this in the apartment too. It’s fun!
6. Practice acceptance and forgiveness. Children have the right idea with this. Not only will practicing forgiveness benefit those around you, it will greatly increase your own peace and inner harmony. Feel your feelings, but then let them go. Let yourself forgive others.
So, you’re probably still wondering about the title, huh? Well, I don’t know what you’re thinking, but I don’t mean butt naked … I’m referring to naked metaphorically, for dropping your inhibitions. :)
What do you think? What make you feel in touch with the inner child in you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Other Articles You May Like:
- 7 Habits of Highly Innovative People
- 9 Ways of Cultivating Creativity
- The Art of Smiling
- The Secret to Self Loving
- Finding Clarity and Inner Stillness Through Meditation
External Resources on Freeing Your Inner Child:
- Life Hack: How to Tap into the Fountain of Youth
- Dumb Little Man: How to Teach Children and Learn from Them Too
- Daniel Roach: Is Your Inner Child Proud of You?
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