6 Ways to Rediscover Our Childlike Mind

October 27, 2022

senior on a skateboardWe don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – Bernard Shaw

The quotation above inspired me to write this article. I didn’t know exactly what the finished product would be when I started, but I felt that rediscovering our childlike mind was an important concept to explore. I’m so thankful that I did. It started me down a path of discovery and realization that has shifted my perspective. The more research I did, the more I realized what a fundamental concept this is for so many of the world’s greatest thinkers and creatives.

Somewhere along the way it happens to most of us: we start believing that life has to be serious for some reason. I think it might have something to do with a public school system that spends years forcing us to conform and follow rules. When we don’t, we’re punished. The inner child that simply used to be our personality slowly suffocates under the layers of forced conformity that build up over the years.  

child dressed as astronautWhy a childlike mind isn’t just for kids

We are walking, talking balls of potential – every one of us. Children know this inherently: they are a firefighter one day, a pilot the next, and tomorrow they will be something completely different. Over time we get caught up in life and lose sight of our dreams. The weight of life on our shoulders also leads to questions about our purpose, which often leads to existential angst.

I sometimes wonder if the prevalence of mental health issues nowadays has to do with the programming we receive as adolescents to “take life seriously”. It’s not like we’re going to get a lifetime productivity grade engraved on our headstone. Some of the happiest people I know never grew up. They found something they liked doing and found a way to make a living doing it. 

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.”– Aldous Huxley

Here are 6 ways to rediscover your inner child;

1) Remove negative assumptions

Children explore the world; they don’t just exist in it. We live in a time when there are seemingly infinite reminders that life is hard, and cynicism abounds. There is so much beauty though; it’s everywhere we look. If you do need to scratch your current events itch, try an alternative news source like  The Good News Hub or Good News Network

2) Don’t let your routine become your life

When we’re doing practically the same thing, day in and day out, it’s no wonder that there’s no wonder in our lives. It would be like watching “The Notebook” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” every day on repeat and  still expecting to cry at the end. Repetition transforms the incredible into the mundane. Since we can’t drop everything and go explore the world because life is getting repetitive, we should try starting with being mindfully present. It can make all the difference in making the ordinary extraordinary.  Check out this article on being present, how to do it and why.

“Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born.” – Albert Einstein 

3) Be more curious 

The same platform that brought you to this article could take you to an article or a video on almost any place or thing in the universe. The Internet is a great blessing, but it also robs some of the majesty from living on such a large and diverse planet. We can all put more effort into getting out and exploring the world, not just the world wide web.

kid in the snowCuriosity also makes a huge difference when dealing with those around us. As adults we often make up stories in our heads when someone is acting poorly towards us. The truth is that someone else’s behaviour has more to do with them than with you. They’re hurting, or sad, and we only compound that when we’re short with them because we made assumptions about  the situation. 

4) Be more vulnerable 

This often also ties in with curiosity. We lose so much of ourselves as we grow up and start worrying more about how we will be perceived. It stifles our creativity and expression. We’re scared to look silly or incompletent, but that’s how we all start when we are learning new things. Embrace asking the “dumb question” or being bad at something new.  

5) Embrace compassion

As we grow older, it gets more difficult to assume that the world is on our side and that people are inherently good. Even giving people the benefit of the doubt can feel unnatural. Every year we’re alive is another year that people or situations can hurt us. Manifesting a childlike mindset requires faith and confidence. It’s not easy to accept that we will get hurt sometimes, and even harder knowing that  choosing kindness and compassion might amplify that pain.

seniors playing videogames6)Make fun a pursuit

It’s been so long for some of us that the concept of making fun a priority seems foreign and causes us to feel guilty. The closest that some of us get to fun for the sake of fun is the “self care” that we do to help combat our burnout. Even the things that would be fun normally feel like a chore when you’re burnt out. We owe it to ourselves to inject some guilt-free fun into our lives. Not because we should but because it’s, well, fun! 

What I learned writing this

Something I realized while working on this article is that aspiring to be more childlike is a Taoist approach to life. It doesn’t require any comparison to anyone else’s journey or accomplishments. We don’t need to force our way through an infinite series of goals until we run out of time or means. We don’t need to go through the frustration or disappointment from constant comparison. There is a beautiful simplicity to be found by channeling your inner child.

It sounds backwards, but becoming childlike isn’t easy and it won’t happen without mindful focus. Removing programming from your subconscious is one of the most difficult tasks adults can do. It’s like trying to force ourselves to forget something; we’re more likely to remember whatever it is than if we had not tried to forget it in the first place!

We all have the potential to add more wonder and joy to our lives. We don’t have to sacrifice being responsible adults to do it either. We can still be reliable and hard working. Adopting amore childlike paradigm of the world does not conflict with the actions that make us a responsible adult. It might just make it a lot more fun though.

PS The video below is one that I watch at least once a month. It always cheers me up and reminds me of the beauty around all of us. Please enjoy.

One Comment

  1. Jean October 28, 2022 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Another “Right On” article!

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