Since we’re closer to our instincts when we’re children, we tend to make more bad decisions. On the plus side, we’re also more daring and enthusiastic.
As adults, we sometimes know better than to do things that we know are bad for us, like eating too much dye #40, but we can be tricked by other things. We become more distant and detached from our instincts. The responsibilities and expectations surrounding our culture’s take on maturity can make us feel like we’re missing out on something. It’s like we gradually get diverted to a boring Interstate stretch after traveling the scenic route. The road is more efficient and utilitarian, and might have nicer rest stops, but it often feels like a major letdown. What does it take to find our way back to the panoramas? What are the things we never should’ve stopped doing in the first place? I hope you add your own to the list. Let me throw out a few I’ve been thinking of today.
Climb – anything.
In addition to the workout, there’s something about the vantage point of height that can be beneficial. For example, when you’re sitting in a tree, you see the world and your problems differently for a short time. Once you’re on solid ground again, reality settles back in, but you’re different for having experienced a different perspective. Find a favorite tree, a place you can sit on your roof, or build yourself a treehouse.
Jump in puddles (or snow mounds).
We adults tend to get too wrapped up in the weather. We’ve become so finicky that we talk ourselves out of enjoying most days. It’s time to invest in some good rain gear (like we had when we were younger) and embrace bad weather as the adventure it used to seem like. We only lost the novelty when we stopped using our imagination.
Stretching and improving yourself.
It’s always important to dream big and aim higher than you think is possible. Don’t worry about being better than anyone else around you, just focus on trying to be the best version of yourself.
Listening to your own inner voice.
The people who are the most unhappy are those who care the most about what everyone else thinks. They let everyone else drown out their own inner voice. So you should stand strong next to yourself. There’s a lot of freedom in leaving others to their opinions.
Walking comfortably in your own shoes.
If others get mad at you for not following their path, don’t worry about it. It’s their problem, not yours. A lot of people have a clear idea of how other people should live, but don’t know how to live themselves. So focus on what you want and keep going your own way. Your own strength and weaknesses are more important than knowing a lot about other people.
Play in the sand, dirt, mud, creek, lake, etc.
In other words, make a disgusting mess of yourself by immersing in the microbes, the sensory feast, and the subversive act. This is the ultimate snub to society’s confines.
Eat food right off the plant/out of the dirt.
If children today express any interest in picking an apple off a tree, five parents rushed over panicked yelling “Let me wash that for you!” Those of you who grew up in the 70s or earlier were probably running the neighborhood and your parents had no idea what you were up to. Left to their own devices, you probably ate any number of produce items pulled directly from the bushes, trees, and dirt (as well as worms, bugs, and other dare-worthy items). You were meant to eat your fair share of dirt then. Take the chance to enjoy the same Primal goodies now.
Working through your fears.
Choose wisely. Don’t let fear of failing stop you from achieving your dreams. It’s better to be brave and try something than to stay comfortable and not try at all.
Being a little unrealistic.
If you want to achieve something great, you have to think outside the box and be willing to take risks. It may seem impossible at first, but if you keep your head up and work hard, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Just look at how far technology has come in such a short amount of time. Who would have thought that we would be able to do all the things we can do with just a touch of a button? All it takes is a little bit of imagination and a lot of determination.
Doing what needs to be done.
Above all, you must BELIEVE you can be. You were born to succeed. If you want to be successful, you need to have a plan, prepare for it, expect it, and work for it every day. Most importantly, you need to believe in yourself.
Tell the truth.
Children can say some embarrassing things without meaning too, while their parents look on mortified. It’s just in their nature to be open like that. When we get older we become more tactful and reserved, but maybe we lose something in the process. We might start burying our own feelings and opinions because we don’t want to cause any trouble or offend anyone. Even though there’s a time and a place for basic respect and boundaries, maybe it’s not so bad to be more like our younger selves, when our emotions and true selves were more closer to the surface.
Remember how we used to ride our bikes as fast as we could just to see how fast we could go? How about jumping, again and again, to get higher and higher, to reach this branch and then that one? Childhood was like a never-ending quest to see how brave we were. Why did we ever let go of that instinct or at least confine it into the tiny space of a career function or other “acceptable” trial? We’re clearly missing out. So go ahead. Throw a tennis ball at the wall of your house and see how many hundred times you can catch it. Run as fast as you can just for the sheer amusement of it. See how many Big Wheels you can jump over. Trust me, it’s just as important as what you had planned for the day.
Do you remember staring at the trees or looking out the window for long periods of time when you were a kid? You would think about big things or maybe just examine the pattern of scratches on the sill. If you give yourself the same mental leisure once in a while, it would be relaxing and you would be able to be at your most creative.
Embracing your struggles.
The challenges you have overcome in the past have made you stronger and more capable of meeting the challenges you face today. The challenges you face today are preparing you for the challenges of tomorrow. Remember that there are no mistakes, and the events that seem negative are actually necessary steps to learning what you need to know to reach your goals.
Being willing to make mistakes.
Mistakes are more productive than inaction. You can learn from your mistakes if you don’t avoid or deny them. At some point, you have to stop thinking about the mistake and move on. Life is about lessons, not regrets.
Getting back up.
Even the strongest and most accomplished people sometimes lose. What defines them is not that they always win, but that they get up one more time than they fall down. So if you think you’re not good enough, keep trying. You may surprise yourself.
Making the best of it.
If you lose something, don’t think of it as a bad thing. Instead, think of it as a gift that makes your journey easier and is meant for you.
Ignoring the naysayers.
Someone who criticizes you or tells you your dreams are doomed is only telling you their story, not yours.
Taking small steps forward.
The second you quit is the second you allow somebody else to succeed. So don’t give up. You don’t need to have everything figured out to keep going.
If you are not smiling, you will lose your footing. So make sure to be happy and cheerful no matter what situation you find yourself in. You will eventually realize that most of your happiness or unhappiness does not come from your circumstances, but from your attitude and outlook.
A friend’s daughter is a perfect example of living in the moment. At six years old, she’s still in that “living fabulous” phase (which every parent hopes will never end). She sings at frequent and random parts of the day. She runs and leaps and dances at whim whether she’s in a grocery store, on the beach, at school, or at home. How do we lose that? Remember the days before self-consciousness set in? When did we stop doing what feels good in the moment? Even if you can’t bring yourself to dance at your workstation (although I’ve known plenty of fun people who do), let loose at home and consider trying some Parkour, Zumba, or another way to get you moving differently for your workouts. It’s a start.
Laugh early and often throughout the day.
If you spend a day around young kids, you’ll quickly lose track of how many times they laugh out loud. They can laugh for extended periods of time at things that adults would consider to be silly or unimportant. And I’m not talking about the polite chuckles that adults often exchange during conversation. The old ” Chicken butt” joke is enough to make them roll around on the floor laughing. Sure, it might take more than that to make us laugh, but why don’t we prioritize laughter more? There are laughter yoga groups, but there are also plenty of hilarious books, stand-up comedians, and movies out there. Find the friends and acquaintances with the personalities and stories that will keep you laughing for hours. Your cardiovascular system needs these folks. It flourishes with entertainment.
Thoughts influence your reality. They can help manifest what you want or tear it down. Be mindful of your thoughts and you can change your life for the better.
Appreciating the life you’re living right now.
Don’t hurry. Take a breath. Be where you are. You are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment. Every experience and step is important.
Spreading your kindness.
The way you make others feel about themselves reflects a lot on you as a person. It’s important to be kind to others and make them feel good about themselves.
How many of us stayed up late to read our favorite books with a flashlight under the covers? It was easy to get swept up in imagining other worlds then. Maybe it was because we’d likely seen so little of the world at that point. Picking up a good book today can be a therapeutic escape from the day or a reminder to get out and make more of life.
Give what you can.
Use your talents to give back to others as often as you can. When you get tired, think about all the people who can’t do what you can do, and how much they would be willing to give to have your abilities. Strive harder for them, and know that there are other people out there with different abilities who are doing the same for you.
We were at a cabin a few months ago with a group of people. One of the people was an art teacher and kept the kids busy by building small houses with all the wood, rocks, flowers, and leaves they could find. The result was impressive and the art teacher was enthusiastic about it. We don’t often exercise our creative side as adults unless we’re in a creative profession. However, exercising our creativity can help us hone our identities as we get older and celebrate new stages of our lives. Other times it just feels good.
Opening your mind to new perspectives.
Don’t be prejudiced against things you don’t understand. Give them a chance. Your mind is like a parachute; it only works when it’s open.