What Your Inner Child Can Teach You About Life
Can you bring more play, joyfulness and creative spark into your life again?
“Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye — it is very beautiful.” — Kailash Satyarthi
Late last year, I was struck by a distant memory of childhood. I was reminiscing about all of things I wanted to be when I grew up. Boy, were there a lot of things. The first thing I remember wanting to be was a paleontologist. I wanted to travel the world digging up dinosaur bones and ancient artifacts. Of course, that all changed when I found…
My Mom’s cassette tape recorder.
Now, I’m probably dating myself when I talk about recording on cassettes, but it’s what we had. And it was the perfect medium for me to start recording comedy skits, impressions, silly character voices and making shows. I would invent these characters (mostly dinosaurs) and invite guests on my variety show like The Great Cook (aka my Mom!)
As I was reflecting on these memories from my childhood, I thought about the state of mind I was in then. So far as I can remember, I didn’t give a second thought about being concerned with what anyone thought of my cassette tapes or my characters or my big dreams to move to California one day. There was a sense of limitless, carefree expression. Whatever wanted to come through the creative pipeline, well, it got recorded. No editing and no holding back.
However, I also realized that in my adulthood, I’ve held myself back in so many moments from the delight of that freewheeling kind of expression that I so frequently indulged in as a child. And I thought, “Why is that?” Well, it dawned on me that, at some point, I bought into the idea that adulthood needed to be “serious” and that certain things were just too crazy to share with other people.
Perhaps this resonates with you. Perhaps you’ve noticed that you’re not as free or trusting or creative as you were in your childhood. And what I’m suggested is that we all make an effort to connect with our inner child and see what it wants to teach us.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” — Fred Rogers
As a sweeping generalization, I think that the inner child that is still alive within us can be one of the most profound teachers and redeemers of our aliveness in adulthood. I’ve begun to ask myself, “What are the things that made me delighted in childhood that I’ve forgotten about, dismissed or judged as unworthy of my attention?” And I’ve come to realize — there are a LOT of these things.
And upon examination, I actually still feel really excited about many of my childhood pursuits and hobbies. Things like taking walks in nature, playing with animals, fast cars, listening to music, playing music, creating crazy characters, writing jokes, doodling in my notebook… the list is pretty dense! But, it’s not enough just to be aware of these long-forgotten touchstones. I think the important question is: do these have any relevance in our adult lives? Can they bring us joy, or even a sense of purpose, right now?
I believe the answer is absolutely yes. I’ll give you an example from my life — and this was pretty profound when I realized it. As a child, I took such delight in making people happy, watching them laugh, knowing that I entertained them and made their day a bit brighter. I loved laughter and good feelings — especially watching them in other people. And, as an adult, I’ve realized that my intention is the same with everything I do now. My aim is to bring joy and delight to people. To give them relief from their suffering. To offer them just a moment of sweetness, of reflection and of unfettered bliss. I had no intention of that as a child, but that’s exactly what I was doing. Spreading joy and creating for the pure bliss of it. And watching that affect other people around me in a positive and profound way.
So, the question is, can you bring some of that childlike sense of play, joyfulness and creative spark into your life again? Are you willing to look back into the past to see what you’ve lost as an adult? Can you resurrect a long-forgotten dream and see if it still burns in your soul?
Your inner child wants to play. It wants to connect. It wants to be untethered and wild and free to express itself. Maybe it’s been years or decades since you gave yourself permission to feel this way.
By giving yourself this permission to play full out, to dream big, to wildly and creatively express yourself without concern for other people’s opinions — THAT is where the real mojo, the juicy stuff, the supreme verve of life exists!
This childlike freedom, this sublime spirit, this sense of play — they can infuse your life, your relationships, your business, damn near every aspect of your existence with an infusion of passion and ecstasy. And this soul liberation allows you to reframe your relationship to life and reinvigorates your soul on the deepest level.
So ask your inner child what he or she wants to experience. You may be surprised (and delighted) by the answers that come.
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This writing was originally posted on Wellevatr.com.