I have a 22-month old daughter. She’s without question the most beautiful thing I’ve laid eyes on. The great thing about having kids is always having a reason to wake up no matter what, having someone who loves you unconditionally, and knowing there’s at least one thing in your life you don’t have to question — you’re all in on your kid (at least I hope so).
In watching her, I learn quite a bit. Kids understand the world better than we do. We come out of the womb geniuses with the appropriate philosophical lens on the world and actually get dumber as we grow older. Kids don’t worry about the wrong things. They don’t have a cynical bone in their bodies. They’re the epitome of what human beings should be like.
Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from my kid. Hopefully, they help you restore some of the wonder you used to have and approach life in a lighter … “child-like” way.
Open Yourself Up to the World
My daughter has a little “Buddha belly” that sticks out. When she breathes, it goes in and out like a party balloon filling and releasing helium. We all start out this way actually — with full, open, and protruding bellies. Then, as we get older, we learn self-consciousness and start to naturally suck our stomachs in.
What does that say about us?
It says we’re afraid to bare it all to the world. My kid isn’t. She welcomes the world with a completely relaxed demeanor (except when she’s screaming). Belly out, she’s saying “I’m okay being my whole damn self at all times.”
Think of how much time you spend physically clenched — belly in, neck stiff, teeth grinding, jaw clenching, etc. Your physicality is a manifestation of how you feel about the world. I meditate every morning and practice letting my stomach fill with air. My body naturally wants to suck in, but I train myself to open up to the world more because it helps throughout the day.
Today, try being more open and less guarded and rigid. When you feel your jaw clenching, let it go. When you start to let stress well up, just pause and breathe. These little physical characteristics have emotional consequences, too. For today, for this week, loosen the death grip you have on life’s steering wheel for a bit. Stick your metaphorical belly out.
What is This?
When my daughter discovers something new, she gets this wide-eyed insanely curious look in her eye.
Imagine being in awe of a piece of string…
She’s on a constant adventure. She’s genuinely curious about every moment of her life.
The problem with adults? They think they know everything. They have the world figured out for better or for worse.
When was the last time you marveled at something? Recently, I was driving down the highway and I started to think about the invention of highways…and cars…and streets signs. It kind of blew me away that at one point these were all just figments of people’s imagination. I think about how computers used to take up entire rooms but now fit in the palm of your hand.
I’m learning to rediscover the curiosity I had for the world. You should too. When you’re in the everyday struggle, you forget how cool your surroundings are. You live in a globe floating in the middle of an endless universe with billions of other little globes. In fact, watch this video of the biggest picture ever taken of the milky way galaxy.
Take some time to be a little more curious and a little less cynical. It’ll lighten your mood and help you be more creative in all aspects of your life.
Ask For What You Want…Loudly
My daughter knows Spanish. Okay, she knows one Spanish word — leche, which is Spanish for milk.
When she’s thirty she yells out “LECHE, LECHE, LECHEEEEEEEE!” There’s no conversation in her head asking herself, “Ah, perhaps I should consider Mommy and Daddy’s schedule. I did get leche already 17 times today, I better not risk asking and getting rejected. Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead.”
Nope. When she wants something, she asks for it. No shame. No fear.
I admire kids for simply stating what they want. How many of us are scared to ask for what we want — from our careers, from other people, from our lives in general.
We make these little rationalizations — not wanting to ruffle feathers, take risks, get rejected, or any other “grown-up” excuses a kid would never make.
We say things like, “Well, my job does provide great benefits.” When we really want to have meaningful work.
Or, “I’m content with what I have.” When we know damn well we want much much more.
I think people are often lying when they say they don’t know what they want. They’re just afraid to ask for it.
What do you want?
How many more days, weeks, and months are you going to go without asking for it?
How long will you continue to live meekly, quietly, and “humbly”?
The clock’s tickin’ and… a closed mouth doesn’t get fed. Ask for that promotion. Ask the guy/girl out. Ask life for more.
You’ll probably get what you ask for.
Trust the Kids
I’d love to do an entire book on philosophy by kids. They’re just ten times smarter than us emotionally. We think we’re there to teach them how to live when it’s the opposite.
If you have kids, watch how they interact with the world. Sure, you can’t scream out loud when you want something or play with string all day, but you can embrace life with their attitude and have almost as much fun.
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Originally published at medium.com