Adults often daydream of simpler times, where bills are parts of a duck and worries consist of snacks to eat and cartoons to watch. “Those were the days,” they would say while trying to meet deadlines at work and taking care of their family. Childhood remains a peaceful life stage with minimal responsibilities and stress. Kids have a sense of wonder, authentic joy, and innocence that made the world their playground, unconcerned by societal expectations and pressure.
While it might be impossible to turn back the clock and embody one’s younger self, adults can still learn a lot from children in becoming happier and feeling more fulfilled. They can then have the best of both worlds—maturity and emotional control of adults and creativity and spontaneity of children. Here’s why thinking like a child can be beneficial.
They say what they mean.
Kids are honest. They won’t sugarcoat the truth about what they’re thinking and feeling. If what you’re wearing is weird, they will point it out. If your story is boring them to sleep, they will interrupt and tell you straight. If the food you cooked is bland and burnt, they will not force themselves to eat it. Adults, on the other hand, are fans of telling white lies. A survey conducted by media outlet Deseret News found their respondents accepting of white lies, usually to make a story more exciting or post edited photos on social media.
Lying is still lying, no matter the circumstances. It can also be stressful when you are caught in a lie, no matter how minor it is. Your relationship with yourself and others will become stronger if you face the truth head-on without false excuses, changing subjects, and laughing off the discomfort.
They showcase humility.
Children are consistently curious about the world around them. They often ask hundreds of questions about anything that catches their attention and interests. No one is safe from their inquisitive nature—not their parents, their teachers, strangers in the park, and even the residential electrician coming by their house. In their minds, there is always something to learn.
Adults can lose this sense of wonder and think that the universe exists to cater to their needs. They no longer showcase the humility of becoming a student of the world, with much to discover and absorb. This can limit one’s potential and ability to grow as a person.
They are unafraid to show tears.
When children get hurt and feel sad, they cry to their heart’s content. They don’t care if someone is watching or judging them for wearing their emotions on their sleeves. At a deeper level, they understand that crying offers a release from stress and pent-up feelings. Adults, though, have learned to control their tear ducts by building up walls that hide their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. This act of suppression through bottling up strong emotions can be harmful to one’s health, triggering psychological distress and symptoms.
Adults can follow the footsteps of children and accept that emotions are not under anyone’s conscious control. They will manifest in other ways that are more painful than crying. Practicing self-compassion and mindfulness can help in managing one’s emotions more productively.
There is much to learn from children on how to experience the world with happiness and fulfillment. Adopting their honesty, humility, and vulnerability can be part of the gateway for a better life.