“We need to remain childlike. Children don’t dream of being insignificant.”
The first time I heard that quote from Bill Johnson, it resonated so deeply with me because it’s true!
Have you ever watched a child go about life? And I don’t mean super creepy, boarded up windows on a white van type of stuff.
I mean, have you ever just sat back and watched little kids as they play, interact with one another, and navigate this crazy thing called life?
If so, what’d you see? Chances are, you didn’t see things like fear of judgement or failure, racism or prejudice, or anxiety and depression. Those types of things don’t tend to exist in the lives of children.
Sadly though, as we get older and become less childlike, we get disconnected from those ways. We become jaded by the world. We start to embody stories that have been told to us and about us that alter the trajectory of our lives.
As a lifelong learner and lover of life, I believe that I can learn something from everyone. Yes, even a child!
And you can too. That’s why I want to share with you 4 life lessons that we, as adults, can learn from our younger counterparts that’ll allow us to live more rich, meaningful, UNCOMMON lives.
To learn what those life lessons are, keep reading.
UNCOMMON Life Lessons You Can Learn From Kids
Be where your feet are
I’ve got to admit, as a perfectionistic achiever, presence is definitely something I’ve struggled with at times throughout my life.
I’m always striving for that next big goal. And in doing so, it’s easy to get caught in that head down, grinding all hours of the day state, where I forget to eat, let alone be present and take time to enjoy life.
Those are also the times where I feel the most unfulfilled. Crazy, right? I’m achieving a lot on the outside, yet I’m completely unfulfilled on the inside.
That’s why the first life lesson we can all learn from kids is to be present.
Now, to be clear, striving for achievement isn’t the enemy of presence. They can coexist. But, you have to make sure that being present is a priority – especially if you’re an achiever like me.
Otherwise, presence will constantly take a backseat to the next goal on the list. Meanwhile, your relationships will suffer and you’ll be looking back on months or years at a time wondering why the hell you’re so unhappy despite accomplishing so much.
Even though life is described as a “dash” to get people to be intentional about living to their fullest, it’s not so short that we’ve got to be in a hurry to get to the next place all the time.
Little kids enjoy the moment. When they’re at play, they’re not caught up thinking about what they need to do tomorrow, or dying inside to get back to the hustle and grind of pursuing success.
No… they play. They enjoy one another’s company. They are fully in the moment.
And when that moment is over, they move on to the next one.
So, the takeaway here is, learn to balance striving towards achievement with slowing the hell down enough to actually enjoy life each and every day.
Be quick to forgive
I remember watching a movie once where a guy died, and the words on his headstone were one last jab at a person who had wronged him earlier in life.
Now while this particular scene was meant to be funny, I’m not so certain that others wouldn’t entertain the same idea on their deathbeds.
I’ve seen people hold on to grudges for a LONG time!
Look, I’m not here to pass judgement and to say that most people wouldn’t understand the grudges you may be holding. But, I can say that I’ve never seen anything positive come from holding one.
When you hold onto a grudge, you are the one who is actually getting the short end of the stick. It’s like carrying around a heavy load that just wears you down mentally, physically, and emotionally. And the worst part is, it’s someone else’s crap!
And I know some people are going to read this and think, “well, Justin, you don’t know what he/she did to me. And if you did, you might understand why I’m holding this grudge.” And you know what, you’re right, I don’t know your unique situation.
But I do know that I’ve been able to forgive people who have wronged me in some pretty big ways, and I’ve also been forgiven for some HUGE screw ups on my part. So while I don’t know your situation, I do know that forgiveness is always an option.
And here are a couple of truths I want you to understand about forgiveness:
Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting
There’s this common misconception that forgiving means forgetting about what happened. Like if you don’t forget about it, then you haven’t truly forgiven. But that’s not true. I think it’s foolish when people think that forgiving means that you’ve got to forget about whatever wrong was done to you. When something wrong or hurtful is done to us, it’s damn near impossible to wipe that from our brains and hearts. We can forgive someone while also still holding on to the memory of what happened in order to protect ourselves from being hurt that way again.
Forgiveness is for you, NOT them
I think the reason most people are so slow to forgive others is because they see it as letting the other person off the hook. Problem is, they don’t realize that they’re actually just hurting themselves. Because the truth is, in most cases, the person who wronged you has moved on with life. Meanwhile, by not forgiving them, you continue to constantly reopen an old wound. Lewis Smedes said it best, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner was you.” Set yourself free. Take that heavy burden of other people’s crap that you’ve been carrying around, and chunk that bastard off a bridge – that’s what it’s going to feel like when you can forgive.
Forgiving doesn’t have to take place face to face
I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’d love to forgive someone, but they’re not sure they could handle being around them without doing something they’d regret. The great news is, you don’t have to be face to face with someone in order to forgive them. Hell… they don’t even have to know that you’ve forgiven them. Going back to the last point, forgiveness is for you! It’s an act of the heart, not the mouth. Telling someone you forgive them only takes place after the change has happened internally. So whether it’s in person or in the silence of your bedroom, you can choose to forgive anywhere you decide.
I’ve never seen a little kid go out to play and say “Screw that kid over there, they did _____.”
No! Kids forgive and they move on. They trust in the heart of a person and believe in them at their best. They don’t judge them at their worst.
Yea, we’re playing a different game as adults, with more amplified and intense wrongdoings. But those points don’t change the fact that forgiveness is still always an option and you can still do it quickly.
Try new things
Dad vent comin’ up – it drives me NUTS when my kids watch a show or do an activity for life 2 minutes and are ready to move on to the next one.
My son is the world’s worst. I’ll put on a education Youtube video for him, which will last a solid 35 seconds before he clicks on to the next. Inevitably he’s going to click so much that he ends up on an ad that he then brings to me with a look of “dad, what the hell is wrong with this thing?”
Ah… kids… gotta love ‘em!
The funny thing is though, as frustrating as those moments can be for us as adults, they shine light on a great lesson that we can learn from kids, which is to be willing to try new things.
So often, we get set in our ways as adults. We’ve got a rhythm. We know what we like and don’t like. And life just flows more easily if we keep it simple.
But is that what you really want, easy? Not me! I’d rather trade in eady for joy, fulfillment, and excitement. And those are the things kids are able to experience by being willing to try new things.
Rather than simply settling for something because it’s “good enough,” kids are on to the next one if something isn’t what they’re looking for. They’ve got no time for boring, mediocre, or mundane.
And if you truly want to live an amazing, UNCOMMON life, you need to stop settling for those things too.
It’s so cliché, but I love to say it because it’s true – you only get 1 life to live!
Do you want to look back on your life one day knowing that it was “good enough,” or that it was all you wanted it to be?
My guess is the latter.
Well if that’s the case, get up off your ass and start mixing things ups. Be willing to try new things, and open yourself up to new adventures.
When you do that, you’ll rediscover that childlike excitement for life, and set yourself up to living the one you ACTUALLY want to live.
Have freakin’ fun!
Look… life can be a real ass kicker sometimes. Bad things are inevitable, and there are going to be some ups and downs along the way.
But, despite all of that, life is supposed to be fun!
I know some people may read this and feel like fun is impossible given their current reality. But the truth is, having fun and being happy are choices. They are mindsets and internal commitments to yourself.
Every single day, when you pick your head up off the pillow, you get to make a choice of whether your life is going to be a soul-sucking grind or a happiness-filled ride.
From the time a child wakes up to the time they lay their sweet little head down, they got one mission in mind – have as much fun as possible!
Adults, on the other hand, at least the vast majority of them, have a different mission in mind – survive the day…
Gah… that’s freakin’ depressing. No wonder most people report that they don’t like their jobs and are unhappy in life – we’ve lost that mission to have fun and truly enjoy life.
But those who are truly winning at life – the ones who seemingly have it all – they made a conscious decision to pursue fun. And they made a commitment to being happy.
See, most people have the mindset of, “I’ll be happy when…” or “Life is hard.” Well, when that’s your attitude going in to each day, you’re going to find that you’ll never reach the when you’re aiming for, and that life will always be hard.
Life only has to be hard and a grind if you choose to make it so. It can also be fun and filled with happiness if you choose for it to be.
I challenge you to figure out a way that you can inject some fun into your life each and every day. Rather than being something that happens only occasionally, how can you do like children, and make having fun your mission every single day.
Putting it all together
Look, I get it, as adults we’ve got responsibilities. We can’t simply have the freedoms and total care free attitude of little kids all the time.
But, we also don’t have to completely lose that inner child. We can have both. Yup… that’s right, you can have your cake and eat it too.
You can be a responsible adult who still does all of the things I mentioned above.
And if you’re really serious about living your best, UNCOMMON life, it’s going to be necessary.
So get out there and let your inner child run free. Go out and be present, forgive quickly, try new things, and have some freakin’ fun in the process!