What do children know that adults do not? Paulo Coelho once said that “A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” More confident, more courageous, and far better at enjoying life than adults, we sometimes feel the desire to return to who we were as children. Here’s what we can learn from our younger selves to bring more joy and happiness into adulthood.
How often do you see children immersing themselves in a creative project for hours at a time? From drawing creatures of indeterminate species to building a sandcastle fit for invisible kings, children are innovators that surpass their older counterparts creatively. As a child, anything seems possible and any problem can be solved. We, on the other hand, know too well what can’t be achieved and what can’t be done. Adults are surrounded by rules and regulations. We have experienced rejections and failures. We know what lines cannot be crossed and boundaries cannot be broken. To be creative, just think like a child. Of course, every invention and innovation has some constraints, but if we start by imagining an ideal solution, then work to accommodate those constraints, we’ll have a better chance of succeeding than if we’d started with all our obstacles first.
Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk
Children are never sad for long. They may have a short pouting session if something doesn’t go their way, but it’s quickly followed by an immediate interest in something else. Upon falling down, a child jumps back up and continues whatever they were doing without trouble. It’s this kind of commitment to happiness that can drastically change our outlook on life. Little things fade, and we determine just how long they’re going to remain on our minds. Don’t stress over something small and make it into a big ordeal. Focus instead on what’s yet to come.
The Latin saying is usually translated to “seize the day”. Every morning, kids jump out of bed and are prepared to live the day to the fullest. They only know this moment, the here and now with no worries of what’s to come. Children seem to understand something that adults have forgotten: the present is what counts (Isn’t that why it’s called the “present”?), and each day is a gift waiting to be opened. Live like there’s no tomorrow!
The most important thing one can learn from children is accepting others as who they are. This is especially relevant in this day and age. Children love all people; they don’t think about race, gender, or status when meeting a new person; all they see is a potential friend, all they look for is kindness. This is the greatest concept of humanity that we tend to lose sight of as we grow older. Adults create stereotypes and have learned to discriminate. We forget that we are all the same, no matter what hand life has dealt us. If children can understand such a huge idea so easily, what is keeping us, with all of our knowledge, wisdom, and experience, from doing the same?
It’s humbling to think that children – the ones we are supposed to guide – can teach us such important concepts. However, the lessons our children show us are some of the most valuable lessons of all.
By Katherine Truong