When each of us come into the world – we are a blank slate. We have the amazing ability to be formed and molded by our surroundings and the people who influence us in the most important of times.
As we get older, we fall into routines and ways of thinking that may seem set in stone – but the beautiful part about the human mind is, we can always choose to re-mold ourselves, to learn, and grow.
Here are some ways we can benefit by thinking like a kid again:
- They always ask questions.
Kids want to know why everything is the way it is. Anyone who has been around a child is aware of the string of questions that follow each other in an attempt to constantly learn. We can’t let this part of ourselves fade away.
Curiosity, learning, and understanding, are literally the lifeblood of both individual and societal progress. There is so much left for our species to learn about our own psychology, our planet, and especially our universe – that an unquenchable desire for ongoing knowledge is the key to improvement. The moment we stop learning is the moment we stop growing.
- They have no prejudice.
Children have no reason to dislike anyone else because they are different. Prejudice is something that is learned – which means it can be unlearned. Put babies from all different cultures and races in the same room, and all they see is more babies.
There is a quote from comedian Denis Leary floating around the internet that speaks about his young child. He asks “You know what he hates? Naps. End of list.”
This succinctly but effectively illustrates how children see the world naturally and what they are programmed to see while growing up. We need to stop teaching “tolerance” which by definition is simply putting up with someone or something, and start teaching acceptance, the viewing of everyone as equals regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
- They’re not afraid to make mistakes.
When a child runs, tries to ride a bike, or throws a ball – and fails – they get up and do it again. It may be out of frustration or determination, but they don’t stop at the sign of failure, and neither should we.
The recent story of Brian Acton, founder of WhatsApp, is a fantastic example of this. In 2009, Brian applied for a job at Facebook and was turned down. On February 19th, 2014 – Facebook bought Brian’s company for a staggering 19 Billion dollars. Had Brian allowed his previous setback discourage him or cause him to change direction in life, this may not have happened. He used his “failure” as fuel to create an infinitely bigger success – a lesson we can all learn from.
- They’re not afraid to dream big.
Ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, and you’ll often get answers like an astronaut or a race car driver. Often these dreams fade when ‘reality’ sets in, bills are to be paid, and responsibilities grow. We can’t let this happen.
It’s important that we always make sure we have more dreams than memories. To wake up each morning without a goal to strive for will make for a bleak, mundane life. It is not difficult to look at the faces of people on their daily commutes and surmise that they might as well be driving themselves to prison.
When our dreams start to fade, so does our livelihood. We need to surround ourselves with others pursuing greatness, and we will be motivated to pursue it as well. There is no “realistic friend” in a group of children – they are simply made up of extraordinary futures.
- They are brutally honest.
Kids tell it like it is. They don’t understand sugar coating or lying for the sake of self-benefit. If they see something, they say it or ask about it. We should all be so smart.
As adults, we learn tact. We learn to be more careful with the feelings of others rather than just blurting things out, but it’s important that we remain honest will doing so. As adults we often become too careful, too afraid to offend a person or group, and therefore water down our thoughts or even create a lie in their place. While I am all for saving the feelings of others, I am also a believer that a painful truth (that will help someone grow) is more desirable than a comfortable lie.
- Their imaginations run wild.
Ask a child to look into the sky and tell you what a cloud looks like – and you’ll get hundreds of answers. Show them a blotch of ink on a piece of paper, and you’ll get an entire story around it. As we become adults we start to see things more in black and white without the imagination and creativity. Throw your logic away next time you look at the clouds, and see what stories you can create.
As important as logic is to living a successful life, it can also be paralyzing. We can over-think, and create problems that didn’t even exist in the first place. Happiness and progress relies on a healthy mix of imagination, emotion, and logic – not too much of one ingredient.
- They always see the bright side.
Children are naturally optimistic. They have no reason to see the glass half empty because they’ve never been disappointed. As hard as it is, we have to remember that the past is simply a thought appearing in your mind in the present. Each new situation is unique in its own way and we can’t let our past disappointments govern how we see the future.
We all have to remember we have the ability to learn and grow constantly. Our minds are endless sponges for information and we can mold ourselves as we wish.
Don’t think just because someone is younger than you, that they’re the ones who have to learn from you – always be open to growing from everything and everyone around you.