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We can all learn from our childhood selves. That innocent kid within us that used to take the world at face value and trusted the process of life. I know that we can learn a lot from our childhood self and re-introduce a childlike wonder into our daily experiences. Here’s how…
1. Be more trusting of others & let others in instead of building barriers
As we get older, life throws us challenges and sometimes those challenges cause us to shut off from the world in order to protect ourselves. We get hurt and we quickly learn to judge others and build barriers to keep others and the world at bay. This gives us a sense of control but it also fosters loneliness and disconnection from others. Learn to let the barriers down and allow others to get to know the real you. The more someone knows you, the more empathy they will have for you. The world will seem a warmer, friendlier place.
2. Adopt an open, honest attitude and express yourself freely
Children speak their minds but this isn’t taken the wrong way because young children do not operate with malicious intent. They just express congruency between their inner world and their outer world. Freedom of expression starts to dwindle as we get older. Society conditions us to keep quiet and behave. In this way, we tend to lose a small part of our true character in an effort to fit in and be acceptable in society. By expressing yourself and resisting the urge to always be politically correct, you are honoring your childhood self. Speak your mind and be open in a positive way. Compliment others and spread goodwill. You’ll be making the world a better place.
3. Wear your heart on your sleeve
There is an innocence and a delicate trust that children show when they wear their hearts on their sleeves, yet they do it naturally. They will tell someone that they like them or that they would like to spend time with them. Adults who often fear rejection, hide their true intentions leading many interactions to resemble a guessing game. When we don’t trust the world, we focus on our suspicions and our thinking changes the way we interact with others. We treat others with caution and unwittingly change the whole dynamic of the social interaction by way of our behavior. Actively choose to see the good in others, learn to trust and people will more often than not meet that expectation in a positive way. When we give others the chance to help us or do the right thing, they will often oblige.
4. Rediscover your curiosity about life, love and the ways of the world
Being inquisitive involves understanding that there is still so much to learn. We never stop learning no matter what age we are. Children constantly ask “Why?” and this is a habit that we tend to grow out of. Start asking yourself “why” instead of just accepting the status quo. Our childhood self had a hunger for knowledge that helped us grow and discover. You are never too old to learn and understand more. An active brain keeps the mind healthy and strong- it needs to be exercised, just like the rest of your body. Curiosity is a virtue.
5. Foster optimism about the future
Do you remember how excited you used to be just before Christmas? That feeling of intense joy and anticipation is hard to beat. Rekindle that childlike emotion by expecting good things in your future. As adults, we tend to be more cynical and almost expect disappointment but this can set us up for failure. Expect the best and try not to constantly imagine all the things that could go wrong. Imagine that the best is yet to come and trust that things will turn out okay. Even if they don’t turn out as you expected, deal with what comes your way without torturing yourself needlessly with negative anticipation.
6. Dream big and imagine the impossible
How often have you heard a child say something like “One day, I am going to be an astronaut”. Our adult minds immediately scoff at this idea and think about all the logical reasons as to why this might never happen…financial restrictions, competition from others to find a job and so on. We employ self limiting beliefs without even realizing it and in the process. We minimize our chances of attaining what we dream about. It’s okay to dream big just as our childhood self did. As the saying goes “you can’t score a goal if you aren’t on the playing field.”
7. Maintain a “can do” attitude
Most children tend to think positively rather than negatively. Once we become adults, our thinking tends to default to the negative. Our childhood self looked at possibilities. If we wanted to build a tree house, we would go about thinking about how to make it happen instead of focusing on all the reasons it might not happen. This is an important attitude to nurture. It can fill your life with possibilities rather than regrets.
8. Be playful and silly sometimes
All work and no play makes a person very dull (and miserable!). Children spend a large amount of time escaping from reality to mess about and have fun. Make time for your childhood self to come out and play. Run around the garden, wear a silly hat or spend time laughing. All of these activities release endorphins – that ‘feel good’ hormone that makes us feel happy and alive. Life can be too serious sometimes so make sure to lighten your life up with a little fun.
9. Live in the moment
There’s a lot to be said for enjoying the present moment. Often, we’re either resentful about the past or worrying about the future. When we do this, we suck the enjoyment out of the present moment by not being fully present in the here and now. As a child, life was lived as it played out – then and there. Your childhood self was present in the moment and enjoying everything that was happening around them as it happened. Your childhood self savored every moment and rarely worried about the past or the future. This is one of the keys to happiness.
10. No hidden agenda
What you see is what you get. Young children very rarely have a hidden agenda and your childhood self was no exception. That childlike innocence that is devoid of assumptions and prejudices. You still have this skill within you. See the world at face value, like a child would and you will enjoy a more peaceful existence. As adults we torture ourselves with ideas about what someone intended or why they behaved a certain way. Often, we will never know but we nevertheless agonize over situations and possible “what ifs.” When you take situations at face value, the innuendo and game playing goes over your head and cannot bother you.
We automatically assume that as adults, we are wiser than when we were children but there is a lot to learn from our childhood self. That raw, true element of our nature that lived life with no holds barred and worried less about outcomes, possessed wisdom. Reconnecting with your childhood self allows freedom and creativity to flourish. Approach the world with an open mind, judge less and laugh often and you will be on your way to rediscovering your childhood self.