How many times have we looked at children and admired their simplicity and capacity for joy? How often have we discovered that taking things so seriously — as if it all depends on us — weighs us down, whereas entrusting ourselves to others, as a child does, gives us freedom?
Maybe we need to value what we, as adults, can learn from children. After all, Jesus teaches us that we need to become like little children, and St. Thérèse of Lisieux gave us an example of sainthood following the “little way” of spiritual childhood. We should consider the idea that the same could be true, in some ways, in other aspects of our daily life.
Here are 9 ideas for becoming a happier person, following in the footsteps of children:
1. Turn the page
Have you noticed how fast children forget moments of difficulty and start over? They get back on their feet quickly, and before you know it, they’ve moved on to the next episode of their life. We can do the same; don’t anchor yourself on past bad experiences.
See related story: How to raise faithful children
2. Truly forgive … and forget
Children know how to forgive, and they easily trust the person again in the future. While we need to learn from experience (“fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me …”), when people show true repentance we need to be open to giving them second chances. In any case, we must not hold on to grudges or resentment, which will only create suffering.
Try once, twice … as many times as necessary to get what you need. Children try time and time again; they don’t give up after the first try, and they’re not ashamed of failure. Follow your dreams, and persist. From each attempt, you can learn lessons that will help to do better next time.
4. “We’re good at this!”
Whether as an individual or as part of a team, it’s healthy to acknowledge our own successes and tell ourselves when we do things well. Healthy self-esteem makes us stronger and helps us face difficult challenges. Don’t wait for other people to encourage you. Examine your own strengths and use them to achieve your goals in life.
5. Stay curious
We’re not talking here about snooping into other people’s lives, but rather about asking questions regarding the world around us: about nature, about how people around us behave and why … If you cultivate healthy curiosity, you’ll be more observant and you’ll make interesting discoveries, learning important lessons about humanity. You’ll also learn to share what you’ve learned with simplicity and humility.
6. Speak up about problems
When children see there’s a problem, they usually say so. Sometimes they get angry, and sometimes they cry, because they don’t know how to express themselves properly, but they do know that they need to get the message across. It’s often harder for adults to be open about what’s wrong: we worry about what other people will think, and we’re embarrassed … But in reality, being sincere means acknowledging both what’s good and what’s bad about situations. If we’re transparent, our family will thank us. It’s not a virtue to avoid talking about important problems that need to be solved.
7. Express sentiments
Keeping quiet about what’s going on inside us generally leads to only one outcome: we end up exploding. It’s much better if we learn from children, who express their feelings more openly. Doing this will make us simpler people and allow others to help us more quickly when we need it. It’s easier to live with someone who doesn’t hide all their feelings.
See related story: How to get your children to open up about their day
8. Laugh like they do
Stop worrying, and enjoy all the benefits of a good laugh. A lot of things that happen to us throughout the day can be taken in two ways: either very seriously, or with a sense of humour. Look at life with optimism and humour, and laugh alongside your children. You’ll find that, with a little imagination, it’s easy. It’s all about attitude!
9. Be flexible
If plan A fails, switch to plan B with enthusiasm. Children don’t get stuck in a rut or in conventional ways of doing things. The haven’t learned to think “inside the box” yet, so they often achieve what they want in unexpected ways. Why not do the same? When your usual ways of doing things aren’t giving results, try something new, and you’ll see that being flexible will be a relief.
Growing up and maturing is essential, but sometimes we throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s not forget to look at children and see where we’ve lost some attitudes and behaviours that are actually healthier than the bad habits we’ve learned over the years.