We often view children as helpless beings that need our guidance, protection, assistance and advice. But in my experience it is often the other way around. Our children become our greatest ‘Zen’ teachers.
Why don’t we instead of focusing on turning children into adults making them as smart, as analytical and as prosaic beings as we ourselves are, learn from them to be spontaneous, creative and free?
Here are 9 Qualities that we all can learn from Children:
A little child does not care if you are 40 years older than they are and play a very important role in a multi-million dollar company. If they find you interesting enough or decide to share their observations, they will walk right up to you and say whatever they feel like saying. We find children’s spontaneity and absence of stereotypes endearing and sometimes even shocking, as our actions are often dictated by social rules, feelings of inferiority, superiority and fears. Learn from children to approach every situation with an open mind and simplicity and you will make friends wherever you go.
2. Trust in the Universe
My friend’s son recently had an accident. He was racing on a cool new 3-wheel bike, imagining himself to be the best racer of all times and trying to maneuver the wriggly streets by their house. Passing the final part of the track – a tiny bridge, he lost control of his bike and rode right into a swimming pool. When his scared dad pulled him out of the pool, the first thing he saw was the beaming face of his son. “Dad, that was amazing!” Talk about complete trust in the Universe and the absence of fear about what could have happened! I am not saying we should be reckless, but sometimes it helps to remember that Someone watches over us, guides us and protects us from harm.
3. Ability to dream BIG
Fortunately, kids are not afraid to dream big. When we are young we dream about being famous movie stars, flying into space, or buying an ice-cream store. But as we get older and more experienced, we let ourselves dream less and less often.
We set goals that we know we are capable of achieving to avoid disappointment and failure. As a result we settle for life way below our potential. God gave you so many unique talents and skills, use them! Do not be afraid to aim for goals that are worth attaining! Let your imagination run free and dream BIG!
Have you ever seen kids fighting each other? They push each other and smack each other, then one of them cries and 30 seconds later they are happily playing together again. Now think about someone pushing you out of the way without saying sorry. The chances are that a week later you still remember this incident and play revengeful scenarios in your head. Do not waste your mental energy on something that you can not change. Instead find strength to forgive and move on with your life!
5. Being fully present
Children’s life experience is too short for them to dwell on their past and they feel no need to worry about the future. They live in the moment, having loads of fun doing silly simple things or observing the world around them. And when they cry, nothing in the world exists, but what has upset them. But soon they return to being happy again, their sadness forgotten. One of the best exercises to learn mindfulness is observing little children play, or better yet – joining the game!
6. Ability to enjoy themselves
Kids care very little about what other people might think about them. Once I caught my 4-year old niece trying out her new dress in front of a mirror. She was singing a song she had made up on the spot and dancing. She could not have cared less that I was watching her. She was not worried about singing off key or looking goofy when she danced. She was just having a great time and enjoying herself. It got me thinking that as adults we often take ourselves too seriously, even when no one is watching. Whatever we do and wherever we are, a part of us is constantly worried about ‘what do we look like’ and ‘what will other people say’. And while certain situations demand that we act like responsible and reasonable adults, it is also important not to lose our childlike ability to enjoy ourselves and have fun.
If you asked a bunch of five-year-olds “who can sing?” most hands would shoot up. Now imagine asking the same question to a group of adults. How many of them would raise their hands? One? Two? None?
Unlike us, adults, children do not have critical thinking and consequently, do not question their abilities. They just assume that they are great at whatever they do! No matter if you are 10 or 90, learn to hush your inner critique and do not let self-doubts dictate to you what you can or cannot do!
Have you ever noticed how a child can make a game out of about everything they see? A dinner table becomes a house, a stick picked up from the street turns into a sword, and a mother’s scarf turns into Spiderman’s cape. It is harder for us, adults to be as creative, as our rationality, prejudices and a range of pre-established concepts block our creativity and ‘outside of the box’ thinking. Whether you need to generate new ideas or find an original solution to a complex problem, leave your baggage of knowledge behind and think how an 8 year-old would look at the same situation or problem. You will be surprised with the results!
9. Sense of discovery
If you have children of your own than you know that there is the stage when they start asking “Why?” about everything: “Why is the sky blue?”, “Why do birds fly?”, “Why do you have to go to work?” For a child everything is interesting, exciting and worth discovering. And for us, grown-ups, such questions often seem annoying. A snowflake melting on the hand is no longer a wonder and touching a dog’s soft fur is no longer exciting and fun. But the truth is that no matter how old we are, there is still so much more to admire, explore and learn about this world.
Try to see even ordinary objects through the eyes of a little child and you will forget the word “boring” once and for all!