I have had the opportunity to work with children pretty much my entire professional career. I realized that most of who I am encompasses a lot of things I have learnt from accessing the child within me and from the children around me. It only makes sense that I would be writing this. I present the 5 most important lessons I learnt from kids.
1. The time is now. If enjoy something; you want to learn something – Do it!
Shawn Achor , the author of the book #HappinessAdvantage says that people tend to believe that happiness will come to them when they achieve a certain goal that they had in mind. Research suggests that it is in fact ‘being happy’ with whatever it is we are doing right now is what’s going to help us achieve the goal in the first place. As adults we may think we may not have the opportunity to do this always, but indulging in enjoying ourselves however we may define it may not be a privilege, rather a right and responsibility we own ourselves. When we allow ourselves to do things that make us happy we are increasing dopamine levels in our body which is responsible for giving us a sense of well- being and clarity. Such well being and clarity is known to decrease stress and increase creativity. That is why children learn things much faster than adults – they allow themselves to do things that make them happy.
2. Sleep for a minimum of 6 hours
Children ( if you successfully get them to bed that is) tend to sleep for a good six to eight hours. So, why should we as adults adopt it from them? Simple, because it is restorative, opens up metabolic pathways but more importantly helps grasp whatever that you need to learn concretely. More so, research has also found that the ability to come up with creative solutions to everyday professional and personal challenges is also associated with good sleep. So if you are reading this late at night, close this article and hit the bed. You can thank us later.
To understand sleep better, check out this TED talk by Russell Foster here
3. Life opens up so many opportunities and chances to love your present if you learn to let go.
Seen kids fight? One moment they are at it screaming, howling, pulling toys from each other’s hand. The next instance, they are playing with each other like inseparable best friends. Why? They are innately wired to ‘let go’ and not hold that which does not serve a purpose to their growth. When we hold irritation, frustration about others, or the sense of failure or angst we are pretty much holding on aspects which are not serving any purpose to our self or professional growth.
As adults it is easier said than done, but not impossible. we may not be able to change a lot of situations in our lives, but when a difficult moment is over, we can learn to ‘let go’ of it. Meditation, exercise or practising mindfulness helps to a large extent. Don’t have time? Try this simple exercise I learnt from a mindfulness article – sit relaxed, notice the flow of your breath a for a few seconds, now focus on at least 3 things that you see around you, next focus on at least 3 things that you can smell so on and so forth with touch, taste and hearing. What this does is trains your brain to look for things in the present moment and does not allow it to delve on what has passed.
4. If you think someone is awesome, show them.
Children allow themselves to openly express love and affection to the people they like. It does not matter who they might be. If they adore them, it’s expressed as a hug, kiss, cuddles or loving words. Positive psychology suggests the very same ideas. If you want to be happy, spread the happiness. Write to your boss, subordinate, colleague with specifics about how you appreciate their work and how they may be inspiring. Invite colleagues, your team for an impromptu beer night or a cup of coffee just because they matter to you, you do not need a reason. Find one quality about them that you admire and would like to acknowledge. The more you do, the more they learn to emulate and do the same thing back to you. That is why children get cuddled a lot. They know how to get happiness.
5. Imagine and apply. Your curve is my rectangle.
Try stating facts to a 5 or 6 year old that who thinks a random thought like the above. If you are simply stating a fact and not correcting him/her, they might say something along the lines of ,“ Mmm … maybe, but I think of it this way.” Eventually the child learns his/her math. But they thought of something very unique, they applied their brains and wondered ‘what if?’ This sense of wonder is lost on us as adults. We dream of things we want to do and want to achieve, but everyday responsibilities and challenges bog us down like those elders correcting the child. That inner voice within us presenting the facts is looking out for us, wants you to be safe and secure. Yet if we need to grow, we need to slowly learn to step out of our safety net and try to find how the curve could also be a rectangle.
So the next time you get to interact with a little one, take a moment – observe, talk to them, play with them, be a kid. “While I try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about.” says Angela Schwindt ins The Zen Mama’s Book of Quotes: A Collection Of Thoughts And Wisdom Throughout The Ages, I agree!