While Christmas shopping during a trip to the UK, I came across some T-shirts with cartoon characters from my childhood on the front. They made me smile, so I started wearing them every chance I got. But my greatest delight came when I saw the look on stranger’s faces as they noticed my T shirts; that pure childlike joy that radiates across a room and takes ten years off your face for a couple of seconds, until the adult inner-dialogue kicks in and questions why you are getting so excited about a cartoon T-shirt.
It made me realize that I needed some small reminders every day to balance my burden of responsibilities with some of that innocence and joy I felt as a child, and I wouldn’t mind if it knocked 10 years off my face.
Just to clarify a point, I’m looking for more child-like delight; I don’t want to be an actual child again.
The aim is to start looking at the world through the eyes of an innocent joyous being, where life is a fun game, not a competition.
So I created a list of 5 ‘grown-up’ actions/intentions that I remember using
the mnemonic ‘GAMES’, to reflect on consciously each day and keep the balance
between childlike joy and adult responsibility.
Gratitude has become a bit of a cliché, but I think that is a good sign, because if gratitude is overused and unoriginal, the world must be a better place. That being said, I will not dwell on how it improves outlook and positivity, mental health and meaning in life, but I will reiterate the need to write down what you are grateful for. It is so much more effective when committed to paper.
Do it especially when you are feeling ungrateful; repeat during the day to counteract negative experiences. I start writing a list as soon as I get to work; it combats any frustration and negativity from my long commute.
We all carry so much responsibility for work, family, friends, house, car, and the future and we have to make so many decisions everyday relating to all these things. All that pressure creates daily guilt, fear, shame or worry that we are not good enough or causes us to questions our abilities.
Note down your current guilt, fears, worries and shame. Next to each, write whether its ‘in your control’ or ‘out of your control’. If it’s in your control, what actions can you take to correct it? Add the actions to your ‘to-do’ list, or email them to yourself and watch the negative feelings lighten. If it’s not in your control, absolve yourself and focus on something you can change.
We all know that sitting at our desks all day is horrible for our health, compresses the spine and gives us bad posture, but the new trend in standing at your desk is still quite sedentary and increases risk for the knees and legs (varicose veins). So move; wiggle and fidget like a 5 year old every chance you get.
Just because you don’t have the time to go to the gym today, doesn’t let you off the hook. Run around the block once, as fast as you can. Run up and down the stairs for 2 minutes. Even better, combine the greatest mood lifters of all; put your favorite happy music on and dance wildly until the end of the song. It’s not much, but anything is better than nothing.
Daily meditation practice rewires your brain into a calmer, sharper, creative machine and helps you reduce stress. But meditation takes discipline. So when I need a quick escape from my stresses, I daydream, like I did as a child. Unlike meditation, you can daydream anywhere, anytime. Daydreams are a meditation and visualization hybrid. Daydreaming reminds me that there are things to look forward to or things that I am building towards, even if today doesn’t feel so great. They don’t even have to be realistic or achieve anything; they are private imaginings that just make you feel better.
Daydream about your ideal job, a new house, a dream holiday, being an astronaut or a fairy princess. Daydreams are powerful insights into what makes you happy. So even if you feel it’s not the right time to take over the fairy kingdom, maybe you need a bit more glamour or romance in your life.
Sharing involves social interaction and even the most introvert of us benefit from that. The simple act of sharing a cuddle with another living creature is comforting and uplifting and touch has been shown to have health benefits for premature babies. Sharing, stimulates that mildly altruistic feeling, that is good for the mind and the soul. A problem shared really is a problem halved. Experiences are all the better when shared with others and laughter can only be contagious in company.
Share something every day. Share your experience, your knowledge, share your meal, your time (to listen to others). Share a hug, a cuddle with the cat, a compliment, an ice cream. It’s all love, and love multiplies every time it is shared; that’s a fact.