Here in the mountains of Northern California, at the base of Mount Lassen, it has been snowing off and on for several weeks. We’re low enough in elevation that the new fallen snow typically only lasts a few days. For me, a Bay Area sea level transplant, this is quite a new and refreshing experience. It is thrilling and fun to see the white flakes wafting down and blanketing the ground and trees. Driving through the snow covered forest is like being in your own magical kingdom, akin to the Disney movie Frozen.
This past weekend we had a couple visiting us. Friends we’ve known for several years, whose company we just really enjoy. When it started snowing the wife went outside and was enchanted with the falling snow. Watching her and then joining in, I realized we get so caught up in our day-to-day routines (being responsible, taking care of the next big project) that we too often forget to experience life from a childlike perspective. We need to be that responsible adult, but also remember to enjoy the simple pleasures and joys life offers.
Getting back to our childhood roots, to evoke that childlike response, actually takes some thought and consideration. You have to re-teach yourself how to fully embrace and experience life by applying a childlike perspective. Once, we could do this without any thought. It was an innate part of who we were as children; growing, learning and developing. Yet over the years, as we grew, it got lost somewhere deep inside. It’s similar to the stages of adult learning: starting at unconscious/unknowing, conscious/unknowing, conscious/knowing, and unconscious/knowing. As I share with my clients, “To be fully engaged, you often have to move back to conscious/knowing. Only then are you able to actually continue your ongoing growth and development.”
As you ponder cultivating a childlike perspective, try a few of the activities below to rekindle that child buried deep within you.
- Spark Your Curiosity: Have you ever noticed how curious kids are? Quite simply their bodies and minds are growing by leaps and bounds. Because of this they are interested in everything. Unlike adults who get to a certain age and begin to classify themselves (i.e., I’m a people person) and then typically stop being interested in science or math. Here’s your opportunity to unearth your childlike perspective: pick up a book, talk with a colleague or go see a movie on a topic different than you’ve ever studied. A great read for a non-science person is Richard Fenyman’s book, Surely You’re Joking Mr. Fenyman.
- Laugh with Abandon: Have you ever noticed how kids don’t just laugh, they laugh with abandon? My friend who was out on the back porch enjoying the snow, all at once just started belly laughing. I couldn’t help but want to immediately join her. Who cares it was just over snow falling; I felt so good afterwards. If you can’t find anything (or anyone) to assist with a good belly laugh, then go get the movie Patch Adams with Robin Williams, and be prepared to hold your sides.
- Engage Your Body: I remember watching my younger brother learning to ski. I was six years older and already knew how, but I was a bit cautious. After watching him hot-dogging it down the final slope, I remember asking, “How come you go so fast?” His flip comment, “Why not? I’m so close to the ground, I don’t have far to fall.” Children are willing to do things with their bodies that as adults we’d never consider, partly because we know better, and partly because we’re not as close to the ground anymore. So the next time you want to get in touch with your inner child, try making a snow angel, perform a cannonball into the pool, or whatever activity allows you complete abandonment.
- Ask Questions: Something happens when we reach a certain age, we stop asking questions and start making assumptions. In a movie I recently saw, the young daughter asks, “Why do buildings have stories instead of floors?” The mother replies, “I don’t know. We should look that up.” I sat there realizing how often I take for granted something I should be asking, whether it’s to Google, friends, my spouse, or books. Next time you’re with a friend, have a game of seeing how many questions you can ask of each other. It’s up to you whether you look up the answers or not.
- Shout Your Pleasure: Along the same lines as the good belly laugh, ever notice how kids just shout when they’re happy? Sometimes right in the middle of a restaurant, at the top of their lungs!! And no, I’m not advising you do that. But how about going into the woods, a quiet hilltop or (my favorite) on the shores of the ocean, and just shout out loud. It may be something simple like, “Hello.” People will wonder who you’re yelling at. Only you’ll know you’re tapping into your inner child. Give it a try.
ACTION: Pick one of the above to do within the next week. Be the adult and mark it on your calendar to remind yourself, then tap into your inner child and enjoy the experience.
Kathy Hart, EdD’s driving passion is human change and transformation. Her goal is to provide professional women in midlife with the support and resources needed to re-imagine and lead even more abundant, joy-filled and purpose-driven lives. If you are a woman wanting to reclaim your voice, realize a long-held dream, or just live your life to the fullest, take concrete action by contacting Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org. The choice is yours!
Services that Kathy offers:
- 1:1 coaching to support the journey into your midlife transition
- Trusted advisor for leaders navigating work changes and requiring an expert guide
- Speaking and workshops on human change and transformation
- Small group work and team development to boost the group’s performance