As we get older, we are pressured to put aside a lot of the things that bring us joy. We have to act serious, and we have to stop wearing so much color so we can present ourselves "like a professional." We find that we don’t play as much. Some of us don’t even take all of our vacation days, which are perfect days to add joy in your life.
Joy is a universal human emotion, and we are all capable of feeling it. If you look at children, you can see that joy is sort of effortless for them. Kids naturally find joy in the world around them.
I recently read a story about a man and his daughter and here's what it said:
Every morning my daughter and I go for a twenty-minute walk to my workplace. For me, in those twenty minutes, I’m in transit. For my toddler, it’s nothing less than a parade of flowers, fire trucks, pebbles, and friendly folk.
I walk alongside her, engrossed in my thoughts of concern that her bouncing body might fall down the stairs, or jump onto incoming traffic.
One morning, I noticed that a sweet old man, amused by my toddler, was watching her with a smile on his face. As we crossed his path, he chuckled to himself looked at me and said, “Children have all the fun!”
Why does our culture have a such bias toward colorless attire in the workplace, seriousness, cynicism, coolness, and distance—as opposed to exuberance, enthusiasm, and vibrancy when those are the things that really bring us joy.
That sweet old man is absolutely right ... children do have all the fun. Clearly, we are missing out! Our age, and being an adult are no good reasons to miss out on this street party!
We are born with an innate understanding of joy, which seems to fade over time with family conditioning and working in society. I say we listen to the children. Why not try some of these and pursue your joy.
1. Be where you are.
Kids are really good at enjoying the moment. Adults are addicted to the stories in our heads telling us about all the things we didn't yet do, or that we have to do tonight, tomorrow, or next week. Where you are is where the joy is. Nowhere else. Be where you are.
2. Learn something new.
From new words to new facial expressions, kids are constantly mastering new skills. Make it a point to continuously be learning something, anything. Aren’t we the ones who tell our kids that “learning is fun”?
3. Get out of your comfort zone.
Toddlers take risks all day long. As we mature, we tend to stay in our safe place. Your day will be so much more exciting if you gather the guts to wear those hot pink pants.
4. Find the beat.
While adults would find a car or motorcycle alarm loud and obnoxious, kids see it all differently. This young guy kicks this tire, waits for the alarm and dances to the rhythm of the changing beat. Seek out the symphony in the background noise.
5. Smile 27 times more than you normally do.
I’ve heard that children smile 400 times a day and adults, only 15. Smiling is the catalyst to joy.
6. Notice nature.
We live in Eureka Springs. We're in The Natural State. Every child is in awe of ants, birds, fireflies, butterflies and dandelions. At some point, we become creatures of the concrete jungle. Allow yourself to be enamored by Mother Nature.
7. Climb things.
As soon as they discover their legs, kids start climbing everything. There is something about being above ground level that is somewhat thrilling. Climb a rock. Climb a tree. Climb a hill. Take a hike. You’ll feel like the master of the universe.
8. Embrace your “flaws.”
Being self-conscious is stifling. Toddlers bring more attention to their little Buddha bellies than any adult ever would and most of the time, they're giggling when they're drawing your attention to it.
9. Use your imagination.
A child can get lost in her make-believe world for hours. Imagine riding an elephant in Thailand. Or running a marathon on the Great Wall of China. You’ll have so much fun pretending that you might want to make it a reality—which leads to more fun and joy than you can imagine.
10. Be unpredictable.
There is no knowing what a kid will get up to next. Step out of your ordinary routine and you’ll be surprised at how liberated you’ll feel.
11. Hand out high-fives.
For no reason at all, kids hand out high-fives like they just won gold at the Olympics. Next time you hear some good news, give somebody a high-five. It feels good to get pumped about the little things.
12. Slow down.
Children know how to take their sweet time. Allow yourself enough time to enjoy living. Rushing sucks all the joy out of the day.
Paint, draw, build, write. Kids clearly enjoy those activities. Find your creative element and bask in it.
14. Get dirty.
Kids aren’t afraid to experience life hands on. Get right in there. Make sandcastles. Turn up a log. Check out these kids playing in the mud and having a hell of a time.
15. Break the rules.
Fun doesn’t follow all the rules. Neither do kids. If it doesn’t hurt you, go for it! One year, we took down all the colored Christmas lights after the holidays were over but we decided to leave up some of the white lights year round.
Joy is all around us.
Here in beautiful Eureka Springs, moments of joy are everywhere. A carved tree, a mosaic tile, yarnbombing, a rainbow staircase, Humpty Dumpty.
Eureka Springs is a wonderful place to live and to visit because being here brings out the children in us all.