As adults we don’t have to go far to get some profound nuggets of wisdom. My 5 year-old son Arwin, for instance, teaches me new things all the time.
When asked “Why not?” the conversation changes. People start to think in terms of possibilities or reasons for impossibilities.
For his fourth birthday we gave him a Lego pirate ship. When he was playing with it I noticed he was building something else and asked him why.
Dad: Sweetheart, what are you building?
Arwin: I’m building a flying ship.
Arwin: Because I want to.
Dad: (challenging Arwin): What do you want to do with the ship?
Arwin: (serious and enthusiastic): I want to put all the bad boys in it.
Arwin: I want them far away from here.
Dad: Laughing. Sweetheart, ships don’t fly.
Arwin: Why not?
Dad: (Checking Arwin’s know-how) How are you going to make the ship fly?
Arwin: I’m going to build two strong wings for it. Then it should fly, right dad?
Dad: Yes, sweetheart, if you build two strong wings for your ship it will fly.
Arwin: Yay! Coooool!
Arwin was very determined to use his imagination to answer any question I put to him. This prompted me to write down some of the things we can all learn from kids.
Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn is to ask, “Why not?”. This brings me to countless conversations I’ve had in the corporate world where people often tend to judge ideas based on what they know and think. When asked “Why not?” the conversation changes. People start to think in terms of possibilities or reasons for impossibilities.
Unlike many adults kids are happy for no reason. Many adults tend to think negatively and that leads them to see many things in a negative light, which then become reasons for their unhappiness. Many adults seek their happiness in others. The truth is that we can and are supposed to be happy regardless of others. Happiness is internal and kids instinctively know that.
If you do what you love, you probably won’t give up when the going gets tough and so you’ll eventually make your breakthrough.
Test it yourself. Ask people around you whether they love their job. “Of course”, many will say. Ask them, “Why?” A number will say, “Well, thanks to this job I can do whatever I want”. Often, people will tell you the benefits of their job. When you change the question to what would you do if you won the lottery? Many of them will say, “I’d quit my job”. We can learn from kids who usually do things with great passion. When you do what you love, you do it well and those you serve see and feel your passion. Because you do what you love, you probably won’t give up when the going gets tough and so you’ll eventually make your breakthrough. Hafiz, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, they are all titans who did what they loved and, by doing so, made a name for themselves.
When their kids leave home or when they lose their job, many adults feel very uncomfortable. Why? Because they had made themselves dependent. Kids, however, do not get too dependent on anything or anyone for too long. They have a toy they love but when it breaks they find something else to play with. Even when they lose their parents, which is probably the greatest loss a child might suffer, they are flexible and eventually accept the loss and seek out alternatives. Many adults are afraid to commit to a new relationship because of past experiences. It’s important to let go of the past.
When kids have a reason to cry, they do. This enables them to show their emotions and feel the relief that follows once the pain has been expressed. Many adults consider showing their emotions to be a sign of weakness so they keep the pain inside. As a result, it takes them much longer to experience any relief.
When kids want something badly they don’t give up easily. They have impressive powers of persuasion and are very persistent. How often have you given up because you failed at the first attempt?
When kids fight together they give their all. However, when the fight is over it is as though it never happened. Kids just want to have fun and they are willing to set aside their differences for that. Remember, your next moment depends on what you think now. If you want to have fun, learn the algorithm of joy which kids are masters at.
Now take a moment of mindfulness and write down what else we can learn from kids. Please answer the following questions: