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Challenge: Get Happy!

Play Like a Child!

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Not too long ago I put together a video expressing how we, as parents, can teach our children to live a life of play and adventure by simply letting them get outside, explore, and be kids. But, recently, I've started to see things in a whole new light: As much as we are able to teach our children about how to LIVE life, they can teach us so much about how to LOVE the life we live!

Children exude an enthusiasm for life. The look at everything with such wonder and optimism. All things in life are worth exploring and, quite honestly, they were the original proponents of "reduce, reuse, recycle". Nothing is wasted with them.

What I've learned from my kids, as I've tried examining life from their viewpoint, is that if I just use a little creativity and imagination all the nuisances that tend to bother me might actually become enjoyable (say what?). If we adults can learn to play like a child at times, we might actually begin to feel again: feelings of pure delight, joy, and amusement! We now pay a lot of money for these sensations that used to come to us naturally as kids!

Below are some examples of how looking at life through the eyes of our children can actually change our perspective and open up a whole new world of possibilities:

1. What I see as an obstacle to be avoided, they see as an opportunity:

Most of us steer clear of rain puddles. However, as we all know, kids love to jump in them. The sheer delight on their faces is unmistakable. Recently, though, my son and his cousin got even more creative: they found some palm fronds and used them as pretend fishing rods to go "fishing" in the rain puddles outside. I was honestly blown away by their creativity. And, they had so much fun!

2. What I consider trash, they view as a treasure:

As a military family, we move a lot. And, with moving comes a LOT of trash in the form of boxes. Well, once we had children, I realized that these empty boxes (especially the large wardrobe ones) might as well be filled with pure gold as far as my kids are concerned. They are priceless. Our kids LOVE them and will play with them until they shred into pieces. Even smaller Amazon boxes get ripped out of my hands before I know what's in them because my kids love to color on them and turn them into rocket ships or cars.

3. What I see as an ordinary object, they see as extraordinary:

My children's imaginations amaze me. They see so much more in ordinary objects than I could ever see. Almost every day on our walk back from the bus stop, my son will collect sticks. In fact, he has an arsenal of them sitting next to our garage. When I ask him why he keeps collecting all these random sticks, he insists that they are not sticks. They are swords, or guns, depending on the shape. I wish I had known before I spent money on the pretend ones, that these would entertain him just as much!

4. When I see the weather outside as an annoyance, they see it as an adventure:

I really do not like windy weather. It turns me and my hair into a hot mess, but my kids love the wind and keep asking when we are going to have a windy day. Why? Because, it's the perfect time to fly their kites. After several weeks of stagnant air, I finally began to wish it would be windy out so they could do it and, you know what, the wind didn't bother me one bit once we were out flying the kites in it. In fact, I kept wanting it to get even more windy. Imagine that!

As I examined these differences, I began to wonder what would happen if I started doing more of these things with my children instead of just observing from the sidelines. Would I have as much fun as them? Well, I decided to try it out, and the answer is a resounding, YES! I dare you to not smile as you swing next to your child or slide down a slide at the playground. Go ahead and jump right in that rain puddle with you kids. It's just water after all! Get yourself a kite and fly yours with your children! All of these things are invigorating and cause us to just let loose a little! Stop worrying about how wet you'll get, or that your hair will get messed up. It will be worth the memories, I promise.

Now, I don't always go jumping in the rain puddles every time it rains but my kids have never forgotten that I did do it with them and, on occasion, I still jump right in with them. Then we run inside and just change our clothes. No big deal.

Let your kids help you feel again what it's like to experience pure joy and delight!

I dare you: the next time you are at a playground, get on the swings and go as high as you can. You'll suddenly remember why you loved it so much as a kid.

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