17 Things Our Kids Teach Us About Happiness

Happy Kids

Photo by Sergey Novikov/Shutterstock

Follow children's lead when it comes to unplanned fun and spontaneity.

Parenting isn’t easy. We wonder if we are doing a good enough job while we juggle multiple responsibilities and watch our kids grow up too fast. Sometimes we are so caught up in teaching our children that we forget to pause and ask ourselves what we can learn from them. What if children hold the secret to a meaningful and fulfilling adulthood?

Here are 17 things you can learn from kids:

  1. Stay present. When a child wakes up, they are not stressing about what’s on their to-do list or how to get it all done. Kids just naturally live in the moment. Adults can choose to as well. 
  2. Be spontaneous. While we may not want to emulate our kids when they go from temper tantrum to happy in a matter of seconds, we can follow their lead when it comes to unplanned fun. Forget the workweek drudgery and the fun-is-for-the-weekend mindset and seek more moments of joy within each day.
  3. Find your voice. Our kids are always vying for our attention. They want to be seen and heard. Adults need to know they matter, too.  Surround yourself with people who value you and what you have to say.
  4. Don’t worry about what other people think. Watch a 4-year-old select an outfit, and you quickly realize they don’t care about what other people think. Blue sparkle pants can go with a black and white polka dot shirt and orange rain boots. Make decisions based on what you like and not what the critics might say.
  5. Dance. Don’t wait for a dance club or ballroom lessons, let the music play and dance in your kitchen or down the street. Kids delight in movement, anywhere, any time. Be open to some playful dancing just because.
  6. Start with a blank slate. Even if little ones go to bed pouting, they often wake up happy without holding on to what happened the day before. A new day is a chance to start again.
  7. Be silly and laugh for no special reason. It’s easy to make kids laugh. Adults? Not so much. Booked schedules and multiple responsibilities can make adults too serious. Let yourself be silly for no special reason. Laugh with your co-workers. Crack a joke. Watch a comedy and laugh out loud. Be playful with your spouse. Laughing is good for your health.
  8. Go outdoors. Remember when you were little and you’d come inside smelling like fresh air? You probably had dirt on you, a fresh scratch or two and you were exhilarated from a day of running around outside nonstop. Seek out nature more often to recharge and awaken your spirit.
  9. Love unconditionally. Even when we don’t have our best day as a parent, our children love us anyway. Instead of being so tough on yourself, choose to love yourself and others without conditions. It feels so good when your child says, “I love you.” Offer that unconditional love to others around you, too.
  10. Do what you love. Kids are inherently drawn to what they love doing. They will ask mom or dad 100 times in a row if they can do that activity. Too often adults let what they love doing slip to the bottom of their list—buried under responsibilities and daily habits. Get back to doing what you love—it’s often the path to your purpose.
  11. Play. Children often view every environment as an opportunity to play. What if you began filtering your world (and days) looking for opportunities to have some fun?
  12. Make messes. Enjoy the freedom in making a mess. (Note to neat freaks: You can clean it up!) You don’t have to destroy your kitchen with a food fight. Channel your inner child by riding your bike through a puddle, running through the sprinkler, playing in mud with your kids or painting without worry that colors will drip on your clothes.
  13. Get excited. How often do you get crazy psyched for something? Anticipation and excitement are skills kids have mastered. (Picture wide eyes, big smiles, jumping up and down and shrieking.) When is the last time you felt that excited? Put some things on your calendar that make you giddy with childlike excitement.
  14. Notice the joy all around you. Kids find joy in the smallest of pleasures—from a firetruck that passes by to a butterfly landing near them. Children delight in cloud shapes, a rabbit that hops into the yard and rainbow sprinkles on ice cream. Start noticing and appreciating the simple little joys that surround you every day.
  15. Accept others exactly as they are. Children are drawn to adults who show an interest in them. You don’t have to look or be a certain way to be loved and accepted by kids. Take a tip from the little ones: Don’t judge others. Take an open-minded and kind-hearted interest in other people.   
  16. Be curious about the world. Kids have a natural wonder and curiosity about the world. Be a sponge and love to learn like your kids do. See every new person you meet as someone you could learn something from. Look for new experiences and opportunities to absorb knowledge.
  17. Be authentic. Some adults spend their lives learning to be who they are. Children just know who they are unapologetically. Find your way back to who you know yourself to be.

 

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