Lighten Up - Be "Childish"

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Kids are awesome – for many reasons.  Not only that, they can teach us adults a lot.  For example, one of the great things about kids is their “attitude” – their playful, happy, optimistic attitude.  Also, children laugh an average of 300 times every day, and anything is possible in their world.  Adults barely make it to 20 laughs a day and become very skeptical – even pessimistic – about what’s possible in life.

Yes, after years of “training”, we learn to think differently than kids.  Much of that is good, since as “responsible adults”, we can’t go around playing all day (or can we?).  We become accountable for things – and “worrying” about them (see “Don’t Worry” below).  Life certainly gets tougher and more “serious” as we get older.

One of the issues we can control, however, is thinking more like a child. Here’s what I mean…

Take a look at the picture to the right.  If you are “an adult”, what do you see? Most adults see a man and a woman (perhaps nude) in a sensual embrace. That’s fine - that's what we (as adults) have "learned" to see.

What do most kids see, though?  They see dolphins.  If you are an adult, can you see the dolphins?  This whole picture is really made up of 9 dolphins -  and not much more.   Can you see them?  If not, don’t feel alone.   Believe it or not, when I show this picture up on a big screen to audiences of all ages, many adults can never see the dolphins at all – even when I circle them and point them out.  They are totally caught up in “adult thinking” and can’t even “think like a child anymore”.  Many people take several minutes to see the dolphins – but can finally see them.  A small percentage of adults see the dolphins right away.

The point of this metaphor is that children are not “blinded” by the what we become trained to focus on as we become adults.  Children see simplicity and, to some degree, reality.

That’s what we need to do as adults.  We need to “take a step back” and look at things more simply, and perhaps, even naively.   One way to start doing this is to…

Laugh and Play More

Children laugh a lot – and are almost always ready to play.  What happens, for example, when a child comes up to a puddle in the middle of the sidewalk?  Of course, they jump in it.  They love it.  They play and frolic – and don’t care at all about getting wet or dirty.   All the while, their parents are telling them to stop playing and getting all “messy” (part of the “training”).

What does an adult do?  Adults generally don’t want to get wet, have no interest in playing, and simply walk around it – missing the opportunity to be “child-like” (part of the result of all that “training”).

Then, to take this a step further, what does an “old person” do when they come up to a puddle in the sidewalk?  [And, by the way, “old person” here has nothing to do with age.  “Old” is a state of mind.  There are many “young” 80 year-olds and many “old” 30 year-olds].  So, what does an “old thinking” person do when they come up to the puddle in the sidewalk?  Well, many of them not only walk around it, they complain about it because of the inconvenience it is causing.  That’s what I call “old thinking” (in other words – the opposite of child-like thinking).

So, force yourself to be more playful.  Be more adventurous.  Laugh more.  You’ll feel a lot better, and start worrying a lot less.  One way to be able to do this is to…

Live in the Moment

Kids – especially very young kids – live mostly in the moment rather than in the past or the future.  Unfortunately, at a very early age we start to get trained to not live in the moment.  By age 7 or 8, we are already thinking about the future – and starting to worry about upcoming events or dreading certain tasks.   Some kids even start thinking about the past.  This is especially true as we get into our teens.  So many teens these days are depressed – and even suicidal.  Part of this is because they feel hopeless (mostly about the future) and sad – sometimes because of the bad experiences in their past.

It’s not easy to live in the moment.  As we have said, life is stressful.  Bad things do happen.  We all have certain regrets about our past.  There is a lot of pain and suffering in the world and there are all kinds of things to “worry about”.

Even with all this, though, we can re-learn how to live in the moment.

One way to achieve this is …

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Life is stressful – there’s no doubt about it.  There are so many pressures on us these days, it’s sometimes hard to live in the moment.

But really, stress is a choice.  I’m sure you know people who are “laid back” and appear somewhat “care-free”.  Sure, some of these people may not be under a lot of stress, but for anyone who is “out there”, striving to be successful, taking risks, perhaps with a goal of financial freedom, stress comes with the territory.  Even many of these people don’t “fret” about things and can be very calm and composed.  Being a bit child-like can help you be that way, too.  

Living in the moment, laughing and being more playful, and just not taking everything so seriously (like a child) can help.    Check out the movie on the right (“Stress is a Choice”) by clicking on the picture.  Also, you can click here to learn more about balancing your life and managing stress or click on the "clicking here" link in the box to the left to download a copy of the ebook, Stop Stressing Now, by my good friend, Steven Diamond.  And above all just…   

Don’t Worry

I know.  This is another of those “easier said than done” issues.  Some people just tend to worry a lot.  This is different from “sweating the small stuff”.  As described above, sweating the small stuff (or even the not-so-small stuff) is mostly about managing stress.

Stress is real – and we are all subjected to it.  There are finanial pressures, there are relationship problems, and there are health issues.   Managing the stress assoicated with these real life situations is one thing.

Worry, however, is different. It's just an emotion.  And most worry is “stressing” about things that likely never will happen.  It is a waste of time and energy.  One of my favorite quotes is by Leo Buscaglia.  He says, “worry never robs tomorrow of it’s sorrow, it just saps the joy out of today”.

So true!  Worry doesn’t change anything in the future.  It just make the present miserable.  So, don’t worry.  Like I said earlier, I know, that’s easier said than done for many people.  It takes commitment and practice.  Like most other things, it has to become a habit.  Click here to learn more about how to stop worrying.

The Bottom Line

The point to all this is that, if you want to be happier, learn to "lighten up" a bit.  Rediscover that little kid inside of you that use to laugh more, be more playful, and thought anything was possible (because it is).

In other words, be "childish", and ...

BeHappy! My friends

Don’t See The Dolphins Yet?

All 9 dolphins are circled in the picture here.  Do you see them now?  Go back up to the picture without the circles and “step back” a bit.  Just look at the dark areas.  Just see the dolphins?  Once you get to the point of being able to see the dolphins, now try to make yourself not able to even see the couple anymore.  Once you get to that point, you can start to think more like a child – and be happier!


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