Do you feel your age? Or do you feel older than your age, much older perhaps? Do you feel tired and drained? Whatever your age is I invite you to read on and discover what you are doing that could be causing you to grow old faster, and what you can do to stop it before it’s too late.
Take a short trip with me down memory lane and recall if you can a time in your childhood when you were truly happy. A time when you didn’t have any cares or worries and you were just happy. Try your best to bring back all the details of that memory. When was it? Where were you? What were you doing? Were you alone or were others there with you?
Now close your eyes and sit with this memory for a moment before reading on.
Did you enjoy it? Did it make you feel good? Did you smile as you remembered? Did it make you feel happy? Did it make you feel young?
Now bring your awareness back to the present, and think about your life as it is now. Do you feel old again? Did your smile fade away? What happened to that little child? Does he/she still come out to play, carefree and full of energy, or has he/she grown scared of the world and taken refuge in a dark corner within the older you? When was the last time you played and laughed like that child? When was the last time you channeled your inner child, and truly allowed him or her to express him or herself?
Has it been long? If so, I invite you to ask yourself the reason behind that. Are you scared that that child will be hurt? Have you become so overprotective of your inner child that you, yourself, are preventing him/her from coming out to play?
Or do you feel like you are so overwhelmed with “grown up responsibilities” that you have no time to play? It’s easy to postpone or do away with playing when we become so absorbed with our everyday lives. After all, who has time to play when there are bills to be paid, mouths to be fed, responsibilities to be fulfilled…?
Or is it, perhaps, that you believe that adults are supposed to behave like adults, and not like immature little children? Do you frown when you see grownups acting silly or just “having too much fun”? Or… are you secretly wishing that you could do the same?
I invite you to really ponder these questions and come up with some truthful answers, because your answers will reveal to you why it is that you feel as old as you feel. At one point or another we all experienced that carefree child spirit. We played pretend and absorbed ourselves in imaginary worlds that were filled with fantasy. We built sand castles, we erected fortresses, we constructed spaceships and race cars, we fought pirates (or perhaps we were pirates); we engrossed ourselves in these activities so much that we lost track of time and space. Those were good ol’ times weren’t they?
But at some point, somewhere down the line we were introduced to work and responsibility. We were told to stop dreaming and focus on reality. We were instructed, whether with words or by example, to start taking life more seriously, because after all, we weren’t children anymore.
Somehow we got the idea that growing up meant that we had to smile less and stress more; that we had to stop playing and focus all our energy on working; that we had to dream less and do more.
But is that really true? Must we really bury that free-spirited child in order to live a fulfilling life? Wherever did we get that idea? It is true that as we grow up, get jobs, get married, have children, our responsibilities increase and our free time decreases. But where did we get the idea that we had to carry out our responsibilities without having any fun in the process? That we had to frown, be stressed, or be “serious” in order to show that we are mature grownups? All of this has nothing to do with maturity. Maturity is demonstrated by taking care of our responsibilities, not by how stressed or serious we are or look when we take care of them.
I believe that it is possible for us to let that inner child out to play again. Not only is it possible, it is a must if we are to enjoy life to the fullest. I know all of us are busier than we’d like and it’s difficult to find the time to involve ourselves in fun activities. But this is precisely why we must make it a point to let our inner child come out to play as often as we can while we carry on with our grown up responsibilities. Understand that I’m not talking about acting like a child while you’re in that important office meeting or taking that exam. I’m talking about feeling like a child as often as you can, no matter what you’re doing. I’m talking about letting go of those inhibitions and letting that fun side of you really shine through.
You know the side I’m talking about. You have it. We all do. But maybe we’re afraid that people will laugh at us or frown at us if we show it. You know what? Let them. Let everyone else frown and think what they want. Show them that it’s perfectly okay to feel young, to not take life so seriously, to be happy.
How do you go about it?
Next time you are around children pay attention to them. See how uninhibited they are. See how little they care about what the other children think. See how happy they are as a result of it. Then make it a point to be just like them. Here are 10 suggestions to help you coax your inner child out of his or her hiding place:
- Next time you’re moving from one place to another, whether it’s going from one room to another in your house, or from one isle to the next in the supermarket, skip instead of walking.
- Next time you take out the trash pretend there is a hopscotch drawing on the floor and hop, hop, hop your way to the dumpster.
- Buy a coloring book and crayons or coloring pencils, or a sketch pad and sketching pencils and spend 5-10 minutes coloring or drawing while you wait for your laundry to be done.
- Surprise your child or spouse by tickling the heck out of them. Then dare them to do the same to you and run!
- When stepping out of the shower make funny faces or talk in funny voices in front of the mirror.
- Next time you pick up your kids from school ask them what they did in school that day. When they tell you what they did, say, “Sounds boring compared to what I did.” Then make up a fantasy about going to the moon, or fighting monsters, or having a sea adventure.
- Dance in place as you cook, do the laundry, or make a deposit at the ATM.
- Buy a bubble set and have fun making and popping bubbles at the park while you watch your children play.
- Put stickers or post-it notes on your face while doing paperwork or paying bills.
- Next time you’re cooking dinner wear a bowl on your head and pretend it’s a chef’s hat, then narrate what you’re cooking as if you were doing a cooking show.
Give these suggestions a try, or come up with your own! There are hundreds of ways to channel your inner child and have fun while taking care of your adult responsibilities. Whatever you do, give yourself permission to be free, and smile as you’re doing it. Not only will you be less stressed and have more fun, you’ll be stopping or even reversing the aging process.
This post was inspired by my lovely wife whose inner child is always inviting my inner child out to play, and who reminds me every day that, no matter how hectic our lives are, there is always time for laughter.