Remember being about five years old or watching a five year old explore the world? Remember that innocent love of learning about your surroundings? So many new things to explore. No filters or experiences or judgments to get in the way of those feelings of wonder and enjoyment. No other things to worry about. Just living in the moment and taking it all in. So innocent! Where does that go as we get older? Who does not want to experience that feeling again? Can we re-gain that innocence?
Absolutely! If you allow yourself to. This was a topic recently brought up where I work after one of my co-workers spent the day with a five year old exploring a natural park. After this brief conversation I began to reflect on it more and found ways that I come back to this innocence from time to time. Without really knowing it, I’ve had to allow myself to find opportunities to just be in the moment. To take in the situation without thought or judgment. It can take some learning and practice to accomplish but this child like enjoyment of life is at our control.
As I thought about this a little longer the easiest situation for me to enter this mindset of an innocent child is while exploring our national parks whether it be the stunning landscapes of Alaska, the Grand Canyon, or standing in the midst of a historic landmark like Bunker Hill where the Revolutionary War started or were Benjamin Franklin is buried. It doesn’t just happen though. Often our brains are working causing thoughts of things to be done or parts of conversations to enter the moment distracting from just being and taking in that moment in our lives.
Over the years I have learned how to quiet all that is running through my mind to just take in a certain moment from time to time. Allowing me to just take it in and enjoy the opportunity I’ve been given. I continue to improve this skill which brings more enjoyment in this short time we have available. Now, just seeing a firefly blinking in the backyard or sharing a memorable moment with someone or watching a dragonfly eat can bring this young innocence back. It has taken a lot of hours of self learning and reflection to work on this and bring back these skills.
I remember when I was younger being around some people who always seem to be smiling and where amazed at every little thing. I thought they were a little bizarre because not everything is amazing and needs to be treated like it’s the first time it has ever happened. This constant state of happiness approached stupidity in my mind. As years passed I began to admire this ability in people because it was not something I could do. They seemed to enjoy life more than I do. Jealousy started to creep in. Questions as to why I couldn’t have this much enjoyment arouse.
Soon I began to realize that while I thought I enjoyed traveling, I really wasn’t taking in those places I was visiting mentally. My thoughts were usually of what I had to do when I get back home or of recent conversations that occurred before I left for the trip. Sure, I did spend some time mentally in this place I had traveled to see but I wasn’t allowing myself to be fully in that place. Over time I have learned that I need to remind myself to be in the moment.
Pretend to be a little kid again – it’s OK!