If you've ever found yourself thinking, "Life was so much easier when I was a kid," then you've probably lost a lot of important traits children naturally have.
Life is challenging and tends to get harder the older you get, but I've come to believe the way children think and behave are the key to a fulfilling life.
I know this because my two-year-old daughter turned my world upside down. I knew she had a lot to learn, but I was the one learning the most from her.
Here's five characteristics of children no one should ever lose.
When I was a little kid, I was pretty easy to impress. The simplest magic trick or a cheap new toy was enough to give me a sense of awe and wonder.
When I got older, I wasn't as easily impressed. I got to a point where I thought I've seen everything already. This is what happens when you become an adult.
The problem with thinking you already know enough about things is you no longer are in a space to learn.
Then came the realization.
We should never let our sense of wonder die. If we find ourselves getting disengaged with our lives, it probably means it's time to expose ourselves to new environments.
If we're not impressed at how beautiful this world can be, then we must be missing out on what's out there. We just need to go out and discover it.
This leads to the next important childhood trait.
Ever notice how children tend to ask a lot of questions?
It's because they're curious and curiosity is the key ingredient to growth.
You always learn as a result.
My daughter's natural curiosity inspires me to always explore multiple angles and keep learning when I'm in a creative rut.
All of the world's greatest innovations are a result of someone's curiosity.
I would imagine in order to create a food like sushi, someone must've sat down and thought, "Hmm, I wonder if it would taste good if I put together some raw fish, rice, cucumbers and avocado"
I'm very glad he or she did because sushi is my favorite food.
Albert Einstein said it best.
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
Without curiosity, none of the great things we have today would ever exist.
It keeps the world going and we should enjoy the process, which is the next important trait children have.
When children are spending the day playing at the park or doing arts and crafts at home, they are engaging in essential activities that contribute to their cognitive, physical, social and emotional well being.
The American Association of Pediatrics presents well-documented evidence showing the necessity of play in children.
This is when it hit me.
Many adults lose their playfulness as they grow up.
The average stressed out working American knows how much struggle is involved in just getting by.
As we get older, responsibilities begin to overwhelm us.
We have bills to pay. Mouths to feed.
Psychologist Stuart Brown, the founder of National Institute of Play, stated in a Washington Post article:
Play deprivation can reveal itself in certain patterns of behavior: We might get cranky, rigid, feel stuck in a rut or feel victimized by life. To benefit most from the rejuvenating benefits of play, he says, we need to incorporate it into our everyday lives, "not just wait for that two-week vacation every year."
Play benefits adults a significant amount in addition to children, so it's important to let loose and enjoy yourself regularly. Playing together opens up a space for bonding and connection, which is the next trait we should never lose.
My daughter is very attached to my wife and I. She cries for us when she trips and falls. She gives us kisses to try and wake us up in the morning so we can play with her. She hugs us when she's tired so we can put her to bed.
She wants to connect with us on a daily basis.
This was a great reminder of how our need to connect with people never goes away. It's the most important human need.
My need to connect with others was always high, but because of times I've been hurt or betrayed, I didn't let myself trust people as much anymore.
This lack of trust made me suffer from a ton of loneliness and depression because I never allowed enough genuine relationships to enter my life.
I focused so much on pleasing others rather than connecting with them.
I realized the more we connect with each other authentically, the more we get in tune with who we really are, which children can do naturally.
Children definitely have personalities of their own, but they start off as themselves. They don't worry about people liking them. They don't worry about being the popular kid at school. They just are who they are.
I thought about how I was once ok and open with being myself too until I let things like shame, anxiety, and low self-esteem control how I behaved.
My strong desire of wanting to feel accepted and loved prevented me from being true to myself. As a result, I ended up unhappy and I didn't feel engaged with my life.
It's a big problem with many adults (including myself) where the older we become, what we want to change about ourselves is based on how we can impress or please other people.
When children are asked what they'd change about themselves, it has nothing to do with their insecurities.
It's true, I worked on a great film with my friends at Jubilee Project to prove it. It did so well it even ended up on television on the Queen Latifah and Meredith Viera Show.
It takes a lot of courage in the adult world to be your authentic self. In fact, according to palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware, one of the top five regrets said by people on their deathbed was:
"I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
If you find yourself unsatisfied with your life, perhaps a good start is to think about if you're living a life doing what truly matters to you instead of letting other people define how you should live your life for you.
Children Are The Real Heroes
I was eating lunch at a restaurant with my wife once and overheard a woman at the next table sigh and say "Children are superheroes until they are told they're not."
This never resonated with me so much until I had a child of my own. Despite all the difficult challenges life comes with, Nora now has become my hero and inspires me on a daily basis to continue engaging my creativity, being genuine and to never stop moving forward in order to keep my heart growing.
So if you're feeling stuck, maybe it's time to reconnect with your inner child's natural traits of wonder, curiosity, playfulness, connectedness, and authenticity.
Life just might become a whole lot more fulfilling if you do.