Grown-ups spend so much time and energy trying to teach children that they often forget how much they have to learn from them. Here are our top three things we can learn from kids that will make us happier, healthier adults.
While the bulk of a child’s school day focuses on learning math, science and reading, most kids also take art and music classes. They spend time drawing, painting, playing musical instruments, dancing and singing. Children are given a unique opportunity that adults often don’t afford themselves — the chance to be creative every single day.
We can learn from kids by making time in our busy schedules to do something creative each day. You may not be able to take formal art or music lessons, but you can still take simple steps to stimulate your creative spirit. Carry a sketch book with you and doodle cartoons while you wait for the bus. Keep a ball of clay in your drawer and work on a tiny sculpture while you’re sitting on the phone. Cook dinner in a more imaginative way.
Kids don’t judge themselves on how “good” their artwork is and neither should you. This isn’t about the piece of art you’ll have at the end — it’s about enjoying the creative process along the way.
You’d think kids would get their daily fill of exercise in gym class playing kick ball and doing jumping jacks. Yet check out a playground at recess time and you’ll see most kids are spending their “breaks” running around.
The older adults get, the more they tend to see breaks as a chance to rest. At work you sit in the lunch room and read the newspaper. At home, you lounge on the couch and watch TV.
But you may be surprised to find you’ll actually gain more energy by getting off the couch and going for a run. Working out releases chemicals in your body that can make you feel happier, more energized and even less depressed.
So the next time you’re feeling tired and stressed, skipping the couch and go for a walk around the block. Not only will you be thinking like a kid, you just might start feeling like one.
Regardless of what children are “doing,” one thing remains the same: they’re almost always playing. Kids are playing when they’re up to their elbows in finger paint, running around a soccer field, singing a hymn at church, sitting on grandma’s kitchen floor, camping out in the woods or even waiting to see their pediatrician.
This unending playfulness can be exasperating for those trying to care for children, but it’s something adults can really learn from. Too often adults grow up and become so focused on the busyness of life that they forget the fun of it.
Learning to play is about being childlike, not childish. You still have to be a responsible adult and go to the DMV – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it fun. Use your waiting time to “people watch” and make up interesting stories in your head about the other folks in line. Carry a toy or a game with you everywhere you go, so that you can spend your wait time having fun instead of impatiently thinking about all the things you need to get done.
Children have a unique ability to entertain themselves in any situation. Learn from them how to be easily amused and you may discover you can be a lot happier and healthier.