Why “growing up” is overrated and you should get in touch with your inner child instead

When I was 13, I would always have early morning tennis practice out on these public courts in east Dallas, and every morning a little old lady would be walking her dog in her wheelchair. We would always say good morning and chat briefly and one day I, in all my 13 and ready to be a grown-up ness, asked “so when did you grow up?” She laughed and replied “Now why would I ever want to grow up? I want to keep growing and learning every day of my life!”

Those simple but impactful words have stayed with me now more than 10 years later and with my 25th birthday rapidly approaching (cue quarter life crisis drum roll) it’s something I’ve been especially reflecting on and thought I’d share few ways to get in touch with your inner child, always stay young at heart and keep learning and growing.

1)Lose the structure: Remember play? Nothing but you, nature and your imagination and maybe your friends’ imagination beautifully mingling with your own. No time frames. No places to be. No agendas. Who says we can’t still do that? Sure, we have places to be and responsibilities to uphold but how about taking just a few hours sometimes to just be and see where your imagination and musings take you. Laugh and act goofy and swing on a swing. Run and skip when you’re supposed to walk. Eat ice cream for dinner without thinking about nutrition or calories – just once –it’ll be our little secret.

2)Ditch technology and use your imagination: I’m a millennial who grew up on that interesting cusp right before technology become completely pervasive and phone separation anxiety become a daily reality. I played inside and out with nothing but myself and my imagination for company. Who says that has to be gone forever? Can you go a couple hours without be tied to technology of some kind and just see where your imagination takes you? Who knows maybe it will even lead to a new hobby.

3)Come back to now — time isn’t running off anywhere: I remember summers in the country in Germany outside with my cousin from dawn until dusk the only mention of time my grandma calling us for supper. Those carefree days flew by while simultaneously having an endless quality of time standing still in the best way possible. Why? Because the day didn’t revolve around time. Getting “there” on time, finishing a task on time, having enough time. We just were and let time do its thing. Now that not to say time and deadlines and punctuality don’t matter but maybe just maybe we can try to carve out the time to just be a little more, even for a few moments. That deadline will wait 5 minutes.

4)What if you could experience everything as if for the first time? What did it feel like to walk for the first time? How amazingly intricate just the “simple” act of walking is. What about eating ice cream for the first time? Feeling sand or snow? It’s interesting how memories work. I have amazingly vivid memories of childhood summers in Germany but sometimes forget what I had for lunch yesterday! Why is that? Probably because as a child in Germany I was very much engaging all my senses even as I was lost in my own imagination. Yesterday lunch was hastily scarfed down at work while thinking about my deadlines for the afternoon… No wonder I didn’t remember… How can you remember something after all that you weren’t paying attention to in the first place. So why not try a little exercise and go through some “mundane” daily activities treating whatever that action is whether showering or drinking a glass of water or brushing your teeth as if for the very first time. What do you feel? This idea is embodied by the Zen Buddhist concept of Shoshin a word meaning “beginner’s mind” and refers to having an attitude of openness, enthusiasm and wonder for the world just as a beginner who has never experienced something would.

 5)Bring back arts and crafts time. Well this one is a little ironic because I remember most of the craft kits I received as a child staying in their boxes, but I did love to freestyle draw and paint and had a blast doing so! Recently I got back into my “abstract” painting roots. Can you tell which painting I did as a child vs. now haha? 

6)Laugh and let out your inner goofball. Do you remember the last time you had a giggle fit? You know that uncontrollable burst of laughter over something silly and then you just can’t stop? Laughter not only releases those feel good endorphins but also improves your immune system by releasing infection-fighting antibodies. So, I invite you to not be so serious all the time and let out your inner child goofball every once in a while 🙂 In fact, the next time you feel you “messed up” instead of getting frustrated why not try laughing at yourself instead?

“Each day I greet my inner child with love and gratitude, I allow the innocence, playfulness and beauty to shine bright. I give my inner child the space to come out and play.”

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