GROWING OLD IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL.
Today, as I grow one year older (& wiser hopefully!!) I’ve been thinking about this one thing a lot. What is the biggest lesson ( in all these years of going around the sun ) that I should learn from and swear by?
The lesson was simple — DON’T GROW UP, IT’S A TRAP ; yet the learnings were a bit more profound! Here are some key observations and learnings that I’d like to share:
1. Feel your feelings:
Children leave their emotions on their sleeves. When they’re happy, they smile and laugh. When they’re sad, they cry. As an adult, you may attempt to control your emotions without acknowledging how you feel. You may adapt compulsive behaviors around stuffing your emotions, denying them, suppressing your feelings and forcing them into something you think is more acceptable to the world and to others.
Of course, learning to manage our emotions is key to many positive things in our lives — but, we cannot proceed to that step without first acknowledging how we feel. Sad things are sad. Hard things are hard. Getting older doesn’t change that!
2. Be curious and excited:
Being inquisitive is how children learn. They push buttons, turn knobs, open drawers and have a million questions and hypotheses about nearly everything as they take in the enormity of this world. They aren’t yet burdened with worry about what others may think about their offerings or efforts.
We also have a little person inside of us with novel ideas and an innate desire to share. Yet, somewhere along the way, we lose that curiosity and excitement to learn new things and discover new places.
If we can relearn to be curious like a child, it may just lead us to greater self-fulfillment and joy.
3. Be fearless:
Children jump, climb, fall and get right back up. As a kid, it’s almost expected rather than feared. We too have the capacity to accept or surrender to fear and dive into something new, but we’ve adapted to self-handicap, perhaps out of collective years disliking the sting of failures. What would happen, though, if you tapped into those younger days when caution wasn’t relevant — the sparkling goal was much greater than the potential cost of reaching it?
What if you simply acknowledged your reservations, made calculated assessments of the actual risks and jumped in with the confidence of a child learning something new?
You can still be responsible; it’s not about being reckless but rather being willing to take risks.
4. Grow a little every day (even when it’s hard):
When we’re young, growth doesn’t take conscious effort; it’s a natural occurrence that pretty much won’t be stopped. As we age, however, growth truly becomes a choice, and a hard one at that to embrace.
Children show us that we will stumble, we may rage, we’ll have our feelings hurt at times, but if we allow ourselves to experience all these things, we may truly soar. If we fall down, mess up or make a mistake, we feel what we feel and we get right back up.
It’s time to turn off that inner critic in your head and look around at a world beyond yourself. Take a stab at a new skill, be open to change and be better today than you were yesterday (even when it’s hard or scary). You could stumble, or you may just surprise yourself.
GROWING OLD IS MANDATORY, GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL. Choose Wisely.