6 Perspectives from the Eyes of a Child:
Living in the moment
Embrace the Boredom!
I remember a long time ago I was on a flight to Paris on a 777. It was an Air France flight and everything was in French. It was really neat to hear all the different sounds and I really got a kick out of it. As I sat there, really getting into all the new experiences, I realized that the person sitting next to me (French) was getting a little annoyed or was really surprised that I truly found this otherwise common situation interesting. I remember speaking to him (in French) and he told me in a sarcastic way something like, "You are truly amazed at all these things, aren't you?" The message here is to always continue to be curious about things. Take interest and fascinate yourself with the simple things. The miracle of life itself. The way your spouse looks at you. The sounds of the rain hitting the roof. By the way, this attitude is contagious. Don't let the "adults" in your life tell you otherwise. Try to get as many "grow up" looks as you can throughout the day. You will know that you have accomplished the discovery mission. I can’t tell you how many times my daughters have looked at me with excited huge brown eyes (with the exception of Elena whose picture is on this blog) at a letter in the mail box addressed to them or a frog found in the backyard. Make discovery a part of your life.
My kids are very dramatic. They will tell you about something that happened at school or at gymnastics and and the raw, innocent passion flows from their bodies. The kind of passion academy awards are given to. You see, Passion runs in my family and my wife’s family. The kind of passion that you see in busy Italian restaurants. The "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" type passion. You get the picture. What stops passion? Fear. Fear of what people will say or think about you. Passion is the closest thing you will get to literally being on fire. It is the fun in being human. Passion is closely linked to our emotions and our emotions both affect other people and affect ourselves as well. Passion has been known to ignite people, movements, entire countries. The power of passion must be harnessed and practiced on a daily basis.
Let yourself go; let yourself be a kid again.
An example of passion in my kids: the passion in the eyes of my son as he tells me “I am the fastest runner!” He then takes off (in the house) running at full steam. This type of passion is never lost. It lies in the deepest corners of our spirit. Tap into it. Let yourself really feel it!
My uncle once told me while looking at my velociraptors (that is what I call my kids), “if we ran around like them we would be dead tired.” The reason that kids have that much energy is that they don’t know any better. Ever notice how soundly they sleep at night? Part of it is youth but from experience I know that the energy cycle is a circular one. The more we consciously do more active things the more energy we get. And if you tell yourself that you are "too old" or "too tired" then you are. Your body will believe whatever your mind says, so change the way you talk about your energy. Proper nutrition as well as plenty of rest helps as well. If you have less energy than you want, change your lifestyle and be more active. Free yourself from the mind crippling thoughts of things you MUST do or the negative feelings and get outside. Maybe a series of activities throughout the day that are less intense will do the trick?
Living in the Moment
My son wants me to build legos with him all the time. When I tell him that I will come upstairs after I clean the kitchen he replies, “But that will be in a long time!" Kids lack the concept of time. They know that things will occur in the future but they seem to have an unbelievable way of living in the present. You can see it in their eyes. Living in the moment ties to true passion. The sense of pure excitement when eating a brownie (what did he say?) The total concentration of pouring a make believe tea in a my little pony tea cup. The extreme joy when conducting the perfect canon ball into a pool in the summer. Pure, in the moment type joy. No past or future to bog them down. No external thoughts or complications. Total concentration. I can learn from this. I really can. Some of my clients tell me that children have the advantage of not having responsibilities. This may be true but using adult experience and wisdom we should be able to mindfully practice the "smelling the roses" metaphor of living in the moment. Right?
My kids have a lot of toys. Not an overabundance but a lot of them. Some of the toys have over a thousand pieces in them, like some of the lego sets. Some of them are electronic master pieces, like the Wii. The most fun that I ever saw my kids have, however, was with a large cardboard box from the store. The kids immediately began playing with this box and pretended to be monsters coming out of the box. The simple fun that they had lasted for days and days. They still gravitate towards cardboard boxes even now at the old age of 10! So the "things" in our lives don't really bring us happiness. It is what we do with the people around us that does. Now "things" are great if they bring us closer to people. But concentrate on the things and you are destined for an empty, unfulfilled life; that's an HPC guarantee. This simple happiness mantra leads us to our final perspective, imagination.
Embrace the Boredom
“I’m bored”, is the joke that we tell our 18 year old daughter. The reality is that you want your kids to be a little bored, if not a lot bored. Boredom stimulates motivation and motivation stimulates creativity. Creativity sparks the imagination into gear. With creativity and imagination, the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that is responsible for cognitive thought and is what makes us human) is working out during this time. So if boredom leads to this in my child; let them be bored! Always having something to do or a place to be will create confusion and a whirlwind in a child's brain as well as an adult brain. It will also overstimulate the stress response because your brain will constantly be orienting towards a stimulus that it feels it should try to face and control. Stimulate imagination instead through periods of reflection (even young children do this when they are allowed to come up with off the wall questions about certain subjects.) Embrace the boredom!
If you have access to children, this assignment will be fairly simple. If not, you will have to use your imagination. The next time you are with a child, observe what they do. Look at the wonder in their eyes and the boundless curiosity and amazement that they bring to the world. Think of a time when you were a child and imagine yourself observing the world un the same way. Look at all the marvelous patterns and colors. Be amazed at the simple things in life: the way the web of life works and unfolds itself in front of you. Observe the smells, the sounds, everything around you. Don’t think about complicated issues and let yourself be bored. Write down the various perspectives in a notebook for a week. If you need an outline, use the 6 perspectives listed at the beginning of this article as a guide. Feel free to add more child perspectives as well.
Until next time, take care, and look into a child’s eyes. You will be surprised at what you learn.
"Lean into it!"