As you can tell from my blog post on why millennial are having a hard time “adulting,” there is this yearning for our childhood days that the modern world has sunk into and is positively drowning in. Think of all the retro trends and reviving of our favorite TV shows or movies from when we were younger. We are well into our twenties and thirties now, but we still get excited over Pokemon and any sign of a possible Spice Girls reunion. And actually, this is not even unique to our generations. Everybody finds themselves slipping into reveries of the good ol’ days. And everyone smiles at the kids around them who show the same childhood traits they themselves had at that age.
Being so involved in our past might be concerning. I certainly have aired concerns about it, but there are also some good in looking back at how things used to be. I believe that children have a lot to offer the world and they can serve as role models to adults who have forgotten how to be carefree and happy. That is why I compiled this list of nine childhood traits that I think all we adults need more of in our lives today.
Belief that there is a whole world and future of possibilities out there
As we grow older, our view of the world gets smaller, like we are looking through a tunnel. We see light ahead, but everything around us is shrouded in darkness. We grow more hopeless and forget that there is a whole world out there. It is so easy for us to fall into despair. However, children see everything. They find the whole world, unencumbered by responsibilities and scary what-if’s, intriguing; there is possibility everywhere. Probably because they are so young, there really is a whole lifetime of possibilities ahead. However, just because we are older does not mean there are fewer possibilities ahead of us. There is still the promise of tomorrow. We have to keep on living expectantly like we are forever young.
Innocent trust in others
It is understandable that we get weathered by life as we age. We see things, we feel things, we experience things–not all of which are pleasant. We grow calloused and weary. I, for one, am a whole lot more cynical than I had been as a youngster. However, by suspecting everything around me, I am closing myself off to the good in people and in the universe. All this negativity also means I have less hope for the good in people and in the universe. Children do not understand this, and we innately desire to shield them from the bad. We want to protect their innocence by keeping it from taint, yet we do not protect our own even within the taint.
An open and non-judgmental attitude
Children are not born with an innate prejudice against others. They do not inherently understand differences–in race, gender, sexual orientation, or anything of that sort. They do not look at someone and immediately judge them on first impressions. They are all sisters and brothers. Remember the little white girl and black girl who told everyone they were twins? Adults tried to explain to them they weren’t, when they should’ve been nodding their heads ferociously like, “Hell yes.” Kids all get along for the most part for this very reason. This is something adults need to readopt because there is just too much judgment and prejudice in this world. We should keep an open mind, learn to think for ourselves, and give people and things a chance. Because children can, they keep open the gate to development. Adults gradually close that gate over time, stunting ourselves when we still have room to grow.
Eagerness to learn and insatiable curiosity
Yes, kids can be annoying, especially when they are constantly asking questions. Their favorite is, “Why?” on repeat for hours. Although this can get old fast, I realized that this is something I’ve stopped doing a long time ago. I used to be such a curious child, always eager to learn and retain new information. However, as I grew older, things became a bother. I kept learning things I didn’t want to learn about, and this fear that knowledge is a curse and ignorance is bliss grew. I wanted to get things over with, so I never questioned what I was told. I just accepted or ignored, and moved on. However, there is plenty in this world that is worth knowing about. It is important to remain curious. It is important to question things, like why things are the way they are. Feed your mind.
Along with that, children are constantly testing things. They’re not only asking questions but also running experiments. All children go through that phase when they test the limits of their parents’ patience. How far can we go before they get really mad? As we age, however, there is more risk and consequence, so we shy away from trying new things out. For example, do you really want to risk asking for a higher salary when you are desperate for a new job? YES. If it doesn’t work out, there will be another chance (re: there is a whole world and future of possibilities out there). It is important for you to figure things out for yourself as you struggle to adult because not even actual adults have everything down pat.
Getting your hands dirty
Children have a very hands-on approach to life. They dig their fingers into the dirt to learn how it feels after a night of rain. They don’t mind the dirt under their nails. They know that using touch and doing things personally are important. A lot of what we know now is from our experimental stage as children. We already know how icky mud feels from when we were children, so we don’t have to do that anymore. Still, this lesson continues to apply to our lives. We can’t think we know everything now or can just look it up on the net. We still need to go for a hands-on approach at times and get the job done ourselves or we will never personally know how it feels to go on a road trip across the country, train a parrot, or do yoga–and whether we even can do it.
Of course as adults we need to be more reasonable and realistic. We need to take care of our finances and go grocery shopping. This doesn’t mean we have to be plain boring! We can still have a vivid imagination like children, who think of innovative ways to solve problems just because they, again, look at all the possibilities and are figuring things out for themselves. Instead of resigning yourself to a typical but safe career track, you can hone your imagination to think of other roads you could take. You can still solve practical tasks with a vivid imagination. You don’t have a certain ingredient for your recipe? Well, then… change the recipe! Dream big! Think of all possibilities, no matter how ridiculous!
No self-consciousness, only self-love
Sure, there are some kids who are shy and self-conscious, but think back to when you’re really young, perhaps a toddler. You did not understand the concept of fat or ugly, you just were. You were too busy admiring and learning this new world to really take in the superficial layer that will slowly place itself on top of everything you know. I’ve heard lots of my peers mention how children and elders care the least about their appearances and stress less about things in general. It’s at this middle phase in our lives, starting in the teens and following us to our thirties, we are at our most self-conscious. We follow most closely the trends of fashion and the styles of our friends. We are less expressive and individualistic, scared of and less confident about standing out. Why, though? Be as free as a kid before you learn about noses that are too big, thighs that are too fat, hair that is too flat, clothes that were too bold, and all the other nonsense.
Not being your biggest critic
As a kid, you don’t feel the pressure of being great. As a result, you don’t feel let down by yourself. You brush off failure and move on. Sadly, it’s as you get older, you start comparing yourself more to others and hearing criticism from other people. You start being too hard on yourself, stressed about achieving things like success, popularity, likability, and other things. Children just are. They are eager to play and to learn and to be. They truly know just how to enjoy the world and are naturally more comfortable in their own skins. Do not be your own worst critic. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. One failure doesn’t mean failure for your life. No one else is like you.
We unfortunately cannot be children again. That’s how the world works. We can’t stop ourselves from growing like Peter Pan, either. What we can do is continue to flourish by keeping the traits we had as children that are worth treasuring while growing into adulthood.
Hopefully, you can work on bringing back these seven traits if you lost any of them on your way!