“Would the child you were yesterday admire the person you are today? If not, adjust for desired results.” ― Ziad K. Abdelnour, Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics
When a child is born there is an immediate and uncontrollable feeling of awe and wonder and reverence toward some higher power, maybe it is G-d for you, that here in this tiny package of humanity is this amazing miracle of life.
As adults we treasure this miracle and we dote on this miracle and we do all we can to feed the spirit of this miracle as it grows. We take possession without realizing that we possess but at some point all too quickly the child becomes its own person.
Once the identity of the child starts to come through we see in this miracle the only word that can describe a child, determination. A child’s determination says, “there is only right now in this moment and this is what I want to do, accomplish, conquer, master, overcome, make happen so watch this….”.
So what happens along the path of growth that stunts the natural sense of determination and turns this miracle into a human of sorrow, self-doubt, limitedness, and negativity and how in the world can each of us humans get it back for keeps?
“Children see magic because they look for it.” ― Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
Every day to a child is like a first day. Every day is filled with new discoveries, new awareness, and new abilities and with each new thing a child can do the child wants to shout to the world, “hey ma, look what I can do” or “look what I just did.” It’s almost as if the child performed the greatest magic trick ever.
Do adults lose their magical abilities because no one is watching or cares to watch anymore? Oh sure, some adults have the ability to see magic throughout their whole lives, just look at Walter Disney, but it’s more than just seeing magic, it’s also feeling magic and feeling that all things are possible and never being influenced otherwise. When did it become childish to let magic into your adult life?
I remember working in a middle school with kids who got sent to detention a lot . Although it was the policy of the school to make the detention room as somber and negative as possible so that the kids would not want to go back there ever again, I couldn’t help but make the room scream of possibilities and dreams and jokes and riddles and hope. Does that make me a rebel? I don’t think so. I just can’t help imagining what it must be like to have to deal with the thought of feeling like a failure and not knowing what to do with that feeling except to be angry, all the time. I pray I created hope and possibilities for these kids to be able to see beyond the anger they were feeling.
Sometimes as adults we look at children and think to ourselves what can children teach us that we don’t already know now that we are the adults; I mean we’re adults, so we have already been where they are, right? The one thing that keeps coming back to me is that a child can teach us to see what a child sees and what a child hears and the unrelenting, untouched, uncomplicated thoughts of a pure mind on the verge of innocence lost. Sometime it is essential to stop and listen to the words of children.
There is a really good reason why we start out helpless and small and unknowing; so that adults can be reminded of the freedom, joy, un-limitedness of who they used to hope to be when they grew up. I believe children know more than adults do. They are pure, untainted entities that embody every possible person they want to become and they don’t care who knows it or what they each look like exploring all those magical possibilities.
“I wept because I was re-experiencing the enthusiasm of my childhood; I was once again a child, and nothing in the world could cause me harm.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage
It’s not rocket science to imagine all the ways in which we can re-capture our innocence and feelings of being a child but just in case your mind is stuffed full of adult mumbo jumbo here is a little list of ideas that just might take you out of the limitedness of adulthood and open the imagination doors of the child’s soul inside of you:
1. Take the blame with “relish”. As a child you gladly took responsibility for your actions anytime you did something you thought was justified or amazing or fun. Harness that positive energy of owning your actions by finding all kinds of ways to take responsibility for your actions as a grown-up. Only do those things that will leave you feeling proud to own up to something.
2. Be Dramatic. Sure you might have thrown a temper tantrum or 2 when you were feeling out of control as a kid or feeling like no one was listening. (Perhaps you didn’t but wished you could). It was dramatic to live in your imagination and to act out as a kid. How can you use that dramatic flair of yours to make a point, to get ahead, to add spice to your days? Use your imagination and create that dramatic magic that is still living inside of you.
3. Ask why as often as you can. How many questions do you ask in a day? Children ask questions constantly because they are not afraid of sounding ignorant. They use the information like Popeye uses spinach. Information empowers them and enables them and strengthens them. As adults we hide our questions for fear of being stared at by everyone in the room or fear of sounding ignorant. Drop the fear, ask the questions. There are no stupid questions. The question not asked is the key not found that could open all the other doors.
4. Be the cardboard box. In Chelsea Greenwood’s article Think Like a Child, on the website Success.com, Alison Gopnik, a professor of philosophy at UC, Berkeley says, “children are designed by evolution to be extremely good learners. They are the research and development division of the human species, and adults are the production and marketing.” How amazing would it be if a simple cardboard box really was the answer to all boredom and limitedness of the adult mind? Get out of the cardboard box adulthood put you into and make something magical happen with it once you are on the outside.
5. Be relentless. How often do you take your kids to a store to discover that you didn’t even make it passed the welcome sign and you realize you are already counting to 10 just waiting to hear them say, “mom, can we get this”, or “mom, can I get that toy”. They don’t take no for an answer. My youngest has learned a great skill over his short little life, the art of the negotiation. Sometimes when I am feeling weak and overrun I call it manipulation or in today’s terms, bullying, but the truth is he has learned how to negotiate to get what he wants. How many times during the day do you hear the word no when presenting an idea or asking for approval on a project or for a raise? Be relentless in your wants. You believe in what you are seeking so keep seeking until you get that yes. No is not an option.
6. Be in awe. Too often as adults we are tainted and narrowed by all that we have seen and learned and we choose to put blinders on to all else except what we want to learn and choose to see. Take the blinders off, step way back and be in awe of everything around you. Be the sponge, be the clean slate, be the child that is fascinated with all things unknown and big. Get down on your knees if you have to and look around, look up, look down and change your perspective.
7. Where did recess go? Public schools hardly encourage recess anymore for fear it will interfere with test taking. The adults of tomorrow are not going to have much to fall back on when they need to harness their imagination because imagination time is being sucked out of their learning. Chelsea Greenwood takes a page from author, speaker and futurist, Jack Uldrich and quotes, “play allows people to practice skills they might need later down the line. Play has consistently been found to reduce stress, increase energy levels, and brighten people’s outlook, increase optimism, and foster creativity.” Start or join the company sports league, start a chess group, bring your guitar to the office and serenade your co-workers during lunch. Play your heart out!
8. Laugh. There are several reasons to laugh each day such as “laughter is the best medicine”, not only for adults but for children too. Laughter is good for oxygen intake, reduction of stress, is good exercise, and among many other things is a great bonding mechanism and best of all laughter cuts across all language barriers. Everyone speaks laughter. If you want to learn more about how laughter can increase work flow and be a positive influence at the office please consider reading The Levity Effect by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher. If you want to make something contagious, laugh.
It all comes down to this: Kids don’t know to be hard on themselves. They like who they are and they should. Take a page from your own story when you were a kid and BE PROUD OF YOU. Celebrate like the child you still are. That child’s soul is still in there. The only difference is the body got bigger and then therefore so did the expectations.
My son was born to a family of average height people. He is 6’2”, which is no big deal except in our family and he always saw his height as a negative. He likes it now, mostly because he can look down on his dad, but he tried to walk smaller and behave smaller because people outside of his family always expected more from him thinking that he was older than his actual age due to his height. That added expectation played havoc on his psyche no matter how we tried to celebrate his individualism. He needed time to grow into all of himself, inside and out, and for the most part so far he has become proud of what he was given and who he is becoming.
Now, repeat after me:
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” ― Edward Everett Hale
It was only you that day when you pulled yourself up from the floor to take your first step. It was only you the moment you climbed those stairs for the first time. It was only you the instant you went from not balancing very well on the bicycle to riding like you were born to ride. It was only you when the puzzle got solved by the thoughts you applied and then made the connection that opened a world of possibilities for more.
Oh, if only we didn’t have to lose so much of the soul of the child inside of us when we grow up. I leave you with this amazing poem by an utterly amazing and talented author who never forgot the child inside, and I wonder: Would any of this poem work for any adult? Perhaps we should take a chance on one of these ideas and just go outside and play, even if it isn’t Saturday…..
“I cannot go to school today”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet,
my throat is dry.
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox.
And there’s one more –
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut,
my eyes are blue,
It might be the instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke.
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in.
My back is wrenched,
my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My toes are cold,
my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff,
my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent,
my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk,
I cannot hear,
There’s a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail,
and my heart is …
What? What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is ………….. Saturday? G’bye, I’m going out to play!” –Shel Silverstein
Call to Action
GO PLAY!!! Find that inner child and kick ass!!