Why Do Kids Have All the Fun? 5 Ways to Reconnect to Your Natural State of Joy
Do you ever stare at an infant or toddler, amazed at the newness they find in everyday things? Or have you found yourself feeling jealous of the reckless abandon with which your niece cannonballs into the pool, wishing you still had the energy to do the same and feeling exhausted just thinking about it? Even as young college students, that excitement for life has already begun to wane, and, even if we don’t think about it on a daily basis, there are always parts of us that still long for the innocence, truth, and fun found only in youth.
This overwhelming feeling of exhaustion can plague adults more than we realize, and, unfortunately, it’s often one of the root causes of depression and anxiety. When we lose our sense of wonder or begin to question our role in society, we also lose our inner sense of being human and of truly living life. However, talk to any successful adult, from artists to entrepreneurs, and there’s a chance they will tell you that some of the most intelligent ideas and forms of expression come during the random moments where the walls are let down: the flash of inspiration while looking at the sky during a work break, or the moment of laughter after everything falls apart.
While no one is suggesting you should put your adult responsibilities aside, getting back in touch with the way it feels to live joyfully, like you’re truly young at heart, is one of the most important things you can do for yourself in life and in your professional and academic career. Here are five ways to head there:
Let Go of the Past
Children rarely dwell on the past. While they may remember bits and pieces, kids are usually living in the moment, unhindered by the things that have already happened to them. For adults, this becomes more and more difficult as times goes on. We can’t help but remember, and possibly obsess over, things that have happened in the past. Some things we wish we could change. Some things we wish we could live over again. However we think about the past, the truth is, spending time thinking about it only takes us away from living now. This is where children are more free. Adults tend to shackle themselves to what has happened, rather than fully experiencing what is happening. If you’re constantly thinking of the past, you need to find a way to let it go. Speaking with a counselor is one of the best ways. But, no matter what you do, try to remember that the past exists only in your own mind, and obsessing over it only clouds your present.
Drop Expectations About the Future
Figuring out future plans is probably one of the heaviest loads placed on college students today. Not only do we have to jump through the hoops of academic programs, we need to plan out what we want to do for the rest of our lives in the process? Unfortunately, there is no surefire road to success, mainly because placing expectations on the future is as much of a shackle as trying to change the past. Children do not place these kinds of major expectations on the future and are, hence, able to live like there’s no tomorrow. It’s great to have dreams and goals, but remain flexible about how things play out, or you ruin your chance to fully live those future experiences.
Enable Your Curiosity Again
Children are endlessly curious. They never pause to think about whether they should ask questions or show their lack of knowledge. Adults, on the other hand, have a bad case of needing to know it all, or at least acting that way. Not only does this put a wall between you and the people you interact with, it puts you in a box, completely unable to fully take in new things without judgement or criticism. In order to keep growing as a person, it’s imperative to drop the act and let the world know what you don’t know.
Play to Play, Not to Win
While this may not seem like the best life strategy, it may actually be one of the hidden secrets to happiness. When it comes to success in any realm of life, what truly defines it? There are plenty of talented, rich, unhappy people, so it can’t be the traditional idea of success that leads to happiness. Rather, the love of the journey, the love of experiencing your own, unique life, is what really matters. Children, for the most part, play games in a similar way. The only time they care about winning is when adults teach them to care. For kids, it’s the fun of the game that matters. This is one of the best ways to go forward in life and career. If you are happy with yourself and having a blast, then no one can touch you, and you have already won.
Sounds like the complete opposite of what we’ve been taught right? As adults, we worry that we need to be more selfless, less caught up in our own petty issues and more aware of the plights of others. While this is true to an extent, there’s a healthy type of egocentricism that’s actually a psychological stage of childhood development. Children of a certain age are not aware of the existence of beings outside of their own. They feel that if they know something, everyone knows it. If they feel sad, everyone feels it. This is called the egocentric mindset. Children start out assuming the entire world revolves around them and slowly become more and more aware of the divide between their own psyche and everyone else. This may seem like a negative characteristic, but it is exactly what allows children to act without fear or inhibition. Instead of constantly worrying about what other people are thinking of you, take a day off from analyzing others and focus only on yourself. You may be surprised by the positive reactions you get from those around you as you disconnect from your own inhibitions.