“That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.” – Walt Disney
Many of us, including myself, consider our childhood to be the golden period of our life.
Because of the boundless possibilities to have fun. The feeling of having all the time in the world. The absence of responsibilities and expectations. A non-existent to-do list. And, best of all, eating as many treats as we would like without worrying about what the scales would say the next day.
The only thing I had to worry about was school. But once I was done with homework, I spent my hours solving mysteries and fighting bad guys on my Sega Genesis gaming console. I had spontaneous playtime with my neighbors. I tuned in everyday at 4pm to watch my favorite cartoons, Scooby Doo and TMNT.
Ah yes, that was the life. As an adult, I truly miss the carefreeness and the freedom that came from the innocence of not knowing the crazy ways of the world. I often wished that I could totally regain a child-like consciousness, defined by purity, naiveté and idealism. I dreamed of going back to the times when unicorns, Santa and the tooth-fairy were real and “grown-up talk” didn’t make any sense to me.
It wasn’t long before the reality dawned upon me that my childhood is a bygone era. I had to accept that it’ll never come back in the way that I wished it could. I realized that if I resented my reality as an adult, I would limit my growth and evolution as a person. Yet a big part of me truly believes that being a mature and responsible individual and having a child-like outlook on the world are not mutually exclusive.
Yes, our passport and mirrors will unfailingly remind us that we’re no longer a kid, but they cannot deny the truth that we’ve all got our inner kid alive deep within us. Even if you’re one of those people who had to grow up quickly because of challenging life circumstances, I can assure you that your inner child still lives in you, but it’s probably dormant and patiently waiting to be summoned by you.
While you and I may not be able to fully recapture our childhoods, we can still experience shades of it in our life. My family and friends are often bemused by my continuing love for my childhood interests such as arcade games, theme parks and cartoons, which still give me laughing fits. No matter what people say, I’m resolute in my attempts to keep my inner child alive and slow down growing up too fast.
I don’t think any of us should be embarrassed by occasionally indulging in being child-like, because, let’s face it… being an adult is hard work! We’ve got people to support. Bills to pay. Bosses to please. Chores to take care of. Adulthood is stressful, busy, and can possibly feel boring and predictable. Sometimes you just need a break from it all, and what better way to do that than channeling your inner child?
I’m definitely not advocating childish behavior, or forgoing our responsibilities and unaccountability for our choices. Adulthood gives us the inner fortitude to handle the challenges life throws at us and helps us to get along as adults in society. All I’m just suggesting is that we stop taking ourselves so seriously. After all, life is a temporary affair for us all, so why not try to celebrate it with some lightheartedness?
Unfortunately, not everyone sees the benefits of being a kid again and they regard being child-like with contempt because they associate it with negative traits such as immaturity, poutiness, irresponsibility and ego-centricism. They usually say things like “Grow up!”, “Don’t be such a baby!”, “You’re so childish in your thinking!”, “Let’s be practical about this matter.”
Well-intentioned parents, teachers and society in general, raise and educate us to become responsible, grown-up adults but they unwittingly squeeze out all those wonderful childhood attributes such as playfulness, trust, curiosity, wonder, and an openness to the world. All this external mental conditioning has created a zombie-like culture that gets bogged down because they’re deprived of fun and frivolity.
But all is not lost. The good news is that you can break out of this somber mould and become a spirited being again. All it takes is a desire to play and have a good time. You can choose to make fun a priority and carve out some time for it in your life, no matter how busy and demanding your life gets. Remember that your inner child is always willing and ready to come out and play!
You’ll find that engaging your inner child is a transformational process if you can cherry pick the positive attributes of a child-like consciousness such as joy, creative thinking and wonder. It’s also therapeutic because it spiritually opens your heart space and significantly reduces your stress levels.
Don’t believe it’s possible for you? Think of someone that you know who seems to embody these child-like qualities, like an aunt or any uncle, a friend or someone famous like Will Smith or Ellen DeGeneres. No matter how old these folks get, they always radiate youth. Look at Betty White… she’s well into her 90s and she still has that sparkle in her eye!
Here are five fun ways to awaken the Peter Pan within you:
- Creative pursuits and hobbies: Children thrive on creativity and find immense joy in expressing themselves. They just grab those crayons, paint brushes or Play-Doh and let their artistry unleash. Without the worries of being judged, they have easy access to a world of make-believe where they can tap into their imagination. We can do the same when we engage in creative hobbies that we love, whether it’s drawing, singing, building something, cooking, dancing, writing or playing an instrument. When you follow your instincts and create whatever comes from your heart, you source your creativity from infinite potential. So create whatever pleases you like children do and expose yourself to other creative marvels. Watch artsy movies or Broadway shows, try out new cuisines, visit museums, etc.
- Treat yourself to nostalgia: Have you ever listened to a song on the radio that instantly took you back to a certain phase in your life? You can experience these pleasurable sensations of nostalgia by creating opportunities to remember or relive the things that you loved as a child. These days, we have access to pretty much any image, video and content on the Internet, so whether your childhood was during the 1940s or the 2000s, you’ll always have access to your memories. Besides searching the net for your childhood relics, you could also engage in certain activities to trigger nostalgic sentiments such as eating your favorite cookies, watching a Disney classic, visiting a park, building sandcastles, playing at an arcade or coloring a book. Unapologetically partake in whatever amuses you and gives you joy.
- Laughter, music and dance: Vulnerability expert, Brené Brown, once said, “When we value being cool and in control over granting ourselves the freedom to unleash the passionate, goofy, heartfelt, and soulful expressions of who we are, we betray ourselves.” Kids have no problem showing that side of themselves. As we grow older, we lose our spontaneity and our ability to have a good time because we’re so worried about what people might think. I believe that we can regain our spontaneity by enjoying three universal pleasures of life – laughter, music and dance. We can easily experience all of these fun things, as an adult, when we get out of our comfort zone and make time for activities such as watching comedy shows, hanging out with a witty friend, attending concerts or taking a dance class.
- Schedule playtime with children: When you immerse yourself in an environment with children, you’ll notice that you take on a more bouncy and playful persona. When I’m with my two-year-old nephew, I come down to his level of understanding when we play, by conversing with him in “baby-talk”, chasing him around the house while pretending I’m a T-Rex, and participating in his imaginary duels between his Batman and Spiderman action figures. And there isn’t a moment that I feel ridiculous doing all of this. In fact, I love it! If you don’t have little kids of your own, cousins, nieces or nephews, I encourage you to seek opportunities to be in the presence of children. Perhaps you can volunteer at a nursery, school or orphanage, or babysit, teach or tutor children. You’ll find that when you’re immersed in children’s effervescent energy and you’re part of their world, your goofy and playful side with naturally come out.
- Go off on adventures: Remember going on treasure hunts as a kid? Indeed, almost every outing felt like an adventurous quest of discovery. We can break the monotony of our routines by bringing back that enthusiasm for adventures. While it would be great to travel to exotic destinations such as Paris or Bali, we can create miniature adventures in our own backyards. Get clear on what your idea of an adventure is by trying out the things that pique your curiosity. Maybe you can check out an old theater showing classic movies, attend a wine tasting night, go vintage shopping in an artsy district, or visit an observatory. The possibilities are endless, but what’s important is that you let your wanderlust guide you and avoid having any judgments about what might show up in your expeditions and adventures.
No matter how our looks change on the outside, our spirit will never age. When we believe that we’re spiritual beings, having a human experience, we can embrace our agelessness and embody a youthful demeanor. This youthful energy is available to us in abundance if we believe in its magic and splendor.
All my best on your journey,
Question for you: Do you make efforts to keep your inner child alive? If yes, what are some of the things that you do to achieve this?