As I take a seat on a bench in front of Cinderella’s castle on a cool November evening, an instant feeling of tranquility and bliss washes over me. I marvel at the glittering display of sparkling lights on the façade of the castle as I bite into a warm, freshly baked, caramel-coated apple.
After relishing the grandeur of this sight, I turn my attention towards my surroundings to soak in everything else around me – the sights, sounds and smells were like cherries added to the top of a delectable, sensory treat.
I can hear the sounds of two toddler boys laughing as they chase each other during a game of tag. I see a little girl proudly prancing around like a peacock in her miniature Disney Princess regalia.
The soothing melodies of the songs that defined my childhood playing in the background, and the whiff of cinnamon flavored buns fresh from the ovens of a nearby bakery, all wrap me up in a warm blanket of comfort.
In my heart, I knew that this was a moment that I would treasure and return to in my thoughts. Although my visits to Disney parks has been a regular ritual for me and my family for many years, what I experienced that evening felt special.
I felt connected to Walt Disney’s spirit and his intention to create the “the happiest place on Earth” – a place where dreams are celebrated, where a sense of wonder and curiosity are encouraged, and where wholesome fun and family traditions are the norm.
I believe that the world is in desperate need of places like these. The rapid pace of modern life has caused people to be perpetually tired, overworked and overwhelmed by urgency and stress.
Returning to our child-like state can not only heal these symptoms but also help us live richer and fuller lives.
When we arrived into this world, our minds were blank slates, but after enduring many years of mental conditioning, we lost touch with the gifts of that pure consciousness that we were born with.
Our parents, teachers, or whoever had an impact on our thinking, made us believe that life is a serious affair that requires a cautious and serious approach. Although there is some truth to that, it can water down our zest for life.
No doubt, we all face real-world challenges such as raising a family, maintaining a steady flow of income, or dealing with the general ups and downs of life. But if we take life too seriously, we’re prone to a zombie-like existence of going through the motions, unable to appreciate the rich colors and textures in the tapestry of life.
There’s a big difference between being “child-like” and “childish”. A “childish” behavior pattern is demonstrated by an unwillingness to face reality and take responsibility for one’s actions. A “child-like” disposition, on the other hand, is demonstrated by a display of all the positive attributes, retained from childhood, such as openness, curiosity and play.
We need to aim for re-connecting with our “child-like” sensibilities. Not only will it add more joy to our lives, but it give us an empowering outlook that will push us to dream big and take action on those dreams.
Over the years, I’ve developed several rituals and activities that give me plenty of opportunities to bring out my inner kid, such as scheduling play-time with my niece and nephew, watching animated movies, and playing board games with friends.
I encourage you to do the same. Here are some guidelines on identifying the activities that you would most resonate with:
1. Always be open to learning: Many people delude themselves into thinking that they know it all or that learning stops after they graduate from school. They miss out on the opportunities to broaden their horizons with new learning. Whether it’s related to a career pursuit or something entirely different such as a new language or art, the objective is to bring you back to a beginner’s mindset.
2. Make “play” a priority in your life: ‘Play’ pertains to any activity that you consider to be fun. Most people associate “play” with hobbies related to the arts or sport, which can either be enjoyed alone or with other people. Create your own list of activities that you consider “play” and schedule non-negotiable “play-time” during your week.
3. Maintain a sense of wonder: Children are a lot easier to impress than adults because they see everything from a place of wonder. Painful and tough experiences may have blocked our hearts, preventing us from appreciating the vibrancy and beauty of life. We need to re-open our heart space to re-create that sense of “wow” that felt magical to you as a child.
4. Stay hopeful and open to possibilities: Children wish upon stars because they know that if they truly believe in their dreams, their wish will come true. As adults, we need to tap into that child-like hope whenever we are ready to take a leap of faith in any area of our life, while staying open to whatever guidance and messages we receive as we try to find our way.
Ultimately, getting in touch with our inner child is a way for us to let go of our limiting beliefs and social masks. We begin to live our life from a place of authenticity and faith in the unknown.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Have you been in touch with your inner child? If not, which personal beliefs prevented you from doing so? What can you do to begin changing them?
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