Recipe For A Happy Life: Week 2
Spend Time With Small Children
Step 1: Find A Small Child, Or Several!*
Step 2: Spend Time With Them
*We suggest a child you already know, whose parents also know you – this really decreases the likelihood of a “misunderstanding”, and you being run out of the local playground by a herd of angry mothers, armed with diaper bags and Dora the Explorer lunch boxes.
As a general rule, children between the ages of about one and three years old are in a really magical time of their lives. They are completely uninhibited, free of negative self talk, curious, explorative and in a nearly constant state of wonder + awe. If you take the time to pay attention and watch how a little one interacts with the world around them, it is tough not to appreciate (and learn from) a child’s happy, simplistic approach to the world around them.
One of the most wonderful things about young children is that they engage with everything from a place of Beginner’s Mind, which is a Buddhist concept of experiencing your world with openness, eagerness, and a lack of preconceived notions. For young children, this mindset isn’t a sign of spiritual evolution or conscious effort, because they really are experiencing all of these things for the very first time – literally everything is exciting! But as adults, we lose this openness and almost never choose (and it really is a choice) to approach our lives from this state of mind. As a result, a lot of the beauty in our day-to-day experiences is missed.
Small children also have a magical way of providing a healthy dose of perspective. Our adult worries about money, work deadlines, personal relationships, arguments with our boss or partner, etc., can be temporarily suspended, replaced by tea parties, sand castles, Fisher-Price kitchens and Tonka trucks; and to that little one, those things are vastly more important than any of your “grown up” concerns.
Try it! Find a little one – maybe your niece or nephew, a neighbour, or even your own child – watch them, interact with them, learn from them. Try to rediscover that sense of wonder and awe; an open appreciation for the world around you, and even the simplest experiences. These kids really do have it figured out, and you will be better for it!
Worst case scenario: You accidentally step on a piece of Lego, learning firsthand the inherent dangers of time spent with small children. (Also see above warning regarding angry mothers with diaper bags.)
Best case scenario: You rediscover the beauty of the little things in life, seeing the world – even just briefly – through the curious, wonder-filled eyes of a child. You leave openminded, refreshed, happy, and with a new appreciation for the time it takes to build a sand castle armed only with a small bucket and a tiny, tiny shovel.
Either way, a healthy dose of perspective never hurt anyone.