I have kids. Three of them to be exact. Being a parent means I’ve been tasked with raising healthy, happy kids. As is often the case, however, we learn more from the people we are trying to teach. Now that my kids are preschool age they have really been oracles of wisdom; at least they believe so. It’s been said that children offer an unfiltered view of the world around them, I propose they also offer a reminder of some simple truths the adult world has forced us to forget.
Ever noticed how your little ones have so much energy? Their default is to go running: outside, at the park or circles around you while you try to cook. Television has become an easy distraction (guilty) that stops the running, but is it healthy? Recent obesity statistics suggest otherwise. I digress. Health people, like doctors, tell you that one of the many benefits of exercise is improved sense of energy. The more you move the more you’ll feel the energy to move. Maybe there’s something to the fact that our kids just run everywhere they go.
Running to your destination, whether it’s to the coffee machine or a meeting, may actually foster an attitude of excitement and expectation for what you’re running towards. It creates a sense of urgency. Plus the endorphins release is a bonus. People will think you’re weird, sure, but once they see the weight you lose, energy you have and how happy you’ve become they might relent and give it a try themselves. I’ve been applying this whenever I can at work and home and, really, there seems to be something to this.
Forgive always and instantly
Ever watched two preschoolers get into a fight? They can really get at it can’t they. Mom or Dad gets in there and breaks it up and the apologies are made. Ever noticed how quickly they are happily playing again? This is something we lose really fast. It’s not long before the concept of a grudge is introduced to us, probably from an adult without realizing it, and becomes an integral part of their emotional being. Before that, however, forgiveness was a central pillar; they forgive fast and quickly without lingering resentment. Jealousy perhaps, but not resentment.
Holding onto something like unforgiveness can be very toxic. I’ve once heard it compared to drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Continually we hear about the health benefits of being quick to forgive. Forgetting can be a lot harder, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t release the person from their doing. Forgiving somebody in your heart is crazy good for your health, like milk, or giving!
Be Generous in your giving, always looking for the need
This is a funny one. People often attach the stigma that preschoolers are a jealous, selfish bunch. Anybody who has watched them interact in any large group can easily point this out. It’s true, however, if you watch really close you can see true generosity a work. Perhaps it’s unique to my two. Often times when one has a toy the other wants they will watch as the other begs them for it, or notice that the other is lacking a similar toy and bummed out about it. Many times without asking my son or daughter has given up their toy happily in exchange for the enjoyment of their sibling. Sure it doesn’t happen ALL the time but it happens more often than it does amongst adults.
Being intentional about giving during the holiday season is easy. Opportunities surround us. How often though do we see a need and awkwardly walk past it or pretend we didn’t see or hear about it. Being generous should be a way of life all year round. People who give genuinely (with a happy heart) will tell you how rewarding it really is. Plus, you’ll really like hanging out with them. People will start really like hanging out with you.
Laugh lots, even when you don’t get it
Laughter is the best medicine. Blah blah blah. This one is a no brainier really, so why are we not laughing? Preschoolers think everything is funny. I mean everything. And if they don’t know that it’s funny but everyone else is laughing, they just join in. Laughter burns calories, works cardio and releases those feel good hormones that leave you smiling and feeling better. Laughter also has a great way of breaking the stress of something. If you’re facing a big decision or a serious problem, try taking a laugh break.
Work hard, play harder
Another one which may raise an eyebrow or six. Working hard is not something preschoolers are associated with. That may be because we have a grown up, furrowed brow, serious definition of work. Work can be fun, tasks can get done well while smiling. My two get the dishwasher emptied, feed the cat, wash the dishes, sweep the floor, try their darnedest to vacuum and even dust the TV stand. Often without being asked. At only two and a half they are less capable but their intentions are obvious. They sing and dance while they work, completing their tasks quickly so they can play. Nothing creates a better living room cleaning incentive than the prospect of play.
And why not? We don’t play enough. Smartphones have got us working nearly every waking hour. Keeping up with houses, working late hours, paying the bills all blind us to just having good old fashioned fun. The best parts of my day are getting on hands and knees and playing with my kids. Sure the work still has to get done sometime, but it will get done happier if we play more. It’s so easy to fill our schedules top to bottom with important big people business, but we forget the hobbies, passions, toys and books we used to play with. A little Lego therapy may be in order.
Go, and be like preschoolers.