Being Childlike

To be more childlike, you don’t have to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously. Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe.

Wayne Dyer

Children live in the moment, they’re not concerned with how productive they are or what others think of them, they’re just focused on the joy of playing. They let their imaginations run wild and they create things endlessly. A tree branch becomes a sword or an appliance box becomes a space ship.

They are extremely curious and ask endless questions. Why? But why? But why? Children love to learn new things and especially like to show off to their parents. “look what I can do!” They often get lost in play and have to be told to come in for dinner. They don’t go to the gym and they don’t worry about what they’re eating. They’re burning so much energy having fun that fitness is just a side benefit. When I was a kid I would spend 8 hours in the public pool by our home fueled only on some French fries that we split between three of us.

Sure, they might get into a fight with a friend or get overly upset if a prized toy gets broken but these feelings don’t last long and they don’t hold grudges. Sharing some ice cream might be all it takes to make things better. You ever notice how easy kids make friends? We’d be on vacation at the pool and my kids would see other kids and the next thing you know they’re all playing together. I heard many conversations go like “hi, you want to play?”, “sure my name’s Charlie, what’s your name?” and off they go. They’re not judgmental unless they’ve been taught to be. Male, female, skin color, glasses, weight don’t seem to matter as long as you want to play.

In a world of fast paced change, imagine how childlike curiosity, imagination, creativity and a lack of consideration for how you’ll be judged could benefit you. Jobs have changed dramatically and having these childlike qualities could mean the difference between being seen as a valuable, high energy resource or someone who’s out of date or “stuck in their ways”.

If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “aren’t you too old for that” or “I’m too old for that” I’d own my own island. As an older snowboarder I hear this all of the time. I’m supposed to be on skis, snowboards are for kids and teenagers. I’m not supposed to ride mountain bikes, I’m supposed to stick to road bikes, its safer. I live next to a college campus and will ride my skateboard to a business meeting at a near by coffee shop. I love the shocked look on the faces of the people I meet when they see me carry my board in. The college kids on the other hand are interested in my bamboo board and how it handles. I did have someone say that I ride old school style which I learned 40 years ago! I love to play board games and we enjoy the newer ones that have become popular like “Ticket to Ride” or “Sushi Go”. My adult children get me board games and toys for my birthday.

So, how do you get this childlike behavior back? First of all, it never went away, your inner child is in there, still young as ever, waiting for you to unleash them back on the world. The first thing you’re going to need to do is to stop taking yourself so seriously. Stop talking yourself out of doing something fun because you’re concerned how you’ll look to others. I hate to burst your bubble but people are more interested in themselves than they are you and will most likely find you more interesting when you stand out from the crowd. This not caring about what others might think is a muscle you can develop. Do something unexpected and see what happens. How did you feel? Did anyone comment on your behavior? Did you care? I quoted Wayne Dryer above and once heard him say, “your opinion of me is none of my business”. In other words I know you have an opinion but I’m not asking as my opinion of myself is what matters, its my life after all.