We tend to think that children are in this world only to learn from adults, so that they learn how to become well-adjusted to society once they reach adulthood. But we fail to see that adults also have many invaluable lessons to learn from children. In fact, if adults were a bit more like children, their life would be very different, in an immensely positive way.
Without further ado, here’s a list of five great lessons a child can teach an adult:
1. Express yourself
Children are in most cases truthful in their behavior. When they feel happy and joyful, they jump, dance or laugh. When they feel sad and uncomfortable, they scream and burst into tears. Whatever they feel, they express it, without caring about what others might think of them. In this way, no suppressed thoughts and emotions accumulate in their psyche, which is the very reason why most children are care-free and relaxed.
Adults, however, tend to suppress themselves. They choose to hide their true thoughts and emotions so as to feel less vulnerable. Because they are continuously concerned about what other people think of them, they prefer to act “normal.” If an adult man starts crying when he is sad, people might think he has a weak personality. If he dances when he is happy, people might think he has gone crazy. Afraid of this kind of reactions, most adults choose to wear a social mask to hide their true self from others. But this is very energy consuming — they exert tremendous amounts of effort to keep themselves in this state of hypocrisy, which causes them to become neurotic and develop all sorts of psychological issues.
2. Enjoy the present moment
The past is not here anymore, the future is not here yet. Only the present moment is, and we can live only in the now.
Most adults have forgotten to enjoy the present moment. Their mind is focused on the future: What job they will get, how much money they will earn, what kinds of possessions they will acquire, and so on. Their time and energy is directed towards the future, and they see the present only as a means to some future end. Unable to let go of their worries and concerns, they can’t enjoy the here and now, thus wasting most their life.
Children, on the other hand, are fully focused on the present, thus squeezing the juice out of life. They are not neither about the future nor about the past; instead, they are wholly absorbed in everything that existence brings them each and every moment along their way.
3. Admire the world
Existence seems like a miracle to every child — a vast cosmos filled with bright colors, harmonic sounds, beautiful fragrances… a mystery that cannot be put into words.
Children admire the world and find deep joy just by experiencing what’s around them. They are curious to find out more about the reality of existence — they want to explore, to experiment, to learn and discover. Adults, however, have lost the capacity to admire. They have been so used to their stressful and miserable lives that they don’t pay attention at all to the beauty our world has to offer, and hence can’t appreciate it. To them, everything looks just ordinary and boring.
Life is an amazing gift that has been freely offered to us, and children can remind us to be grateful for it and make the most of it for as long as we are lucky to experience it.
4. Be playful
Playfulness is the very salt of life. It is what makes life worth living — without it, life becomes a drudgery, a burden, a slow torture.
When we were children, we found immense joy in playing. By playing, we felt fulfilled, and we were pulsating with life. As we grew older, however, we stopped playing. Look around you and you’ll see that almost all adults have forgotten how to be playful — and this perhaps includes yourself. They are continually busy, wearing a long face that reflects their sadness. They work day in and day out, not allowing themselves any moment to rest. To them, everything should be used as a means towards a future end, and therefore see play and fun as a waste of time.
Children have no reason for playing other than play itself. They don’t play for any purpose, they don’t have any goal — they play for play’s sake, and this turns their life into a wonder-full celebration.
5. Return to innocence
Look deep into a small child’s eyes and you’ll get a glimpse of what innocence is. To be innocent means to be free of shame and guilt, to have an open mind and a trusting heart, as well as pure intentions.
Adults have lost the innocence that is natural to children. They feel afraid to open up themselves and show trust to those around them. Instead, they chose to build tall, thick walls around them so as to psychologically protect themselves from other people. They are are cunning, competitive, aggressive, acquisitive, exploitative, and so it’s no wonder that they’re filled with shame, remorse and sadness.
We’re all born innocent, but most of us tend to lose our innocence by the time we reach adulthood. By being in the presence of a child, we can reconnect with our inner child and regain our innocence. Once this happens, we will start living in a completely different way — a way of beauty, joy and contentment.