Motivation: The Power of Youth

Children are truly amazing people – they have an unbelievable outlook on life and the world. Many of the things that stress us out as adults were things that we looked forward to as children. Life was simple: no bills, no job, no appointments, no real responsibility. I remember one particular summer where my agenda was to discover the hidden treasures in the woods behind the new house my family moved into – I woke up at the crack of dawn to get started and I’d be up half the night scheming and planning out the following day. I don’t understand why as adults, we forget that excitement we once had as children and as children, we can’t wait to become adults. As young adults, we’re chided to not act childish yet sometimes as adults, acting childish is the medicine that we need to cheer ourselves up during tough times.

If you have young children or are around young children frequently, you’ve probably been amazed at how the little things in life excite them. The first falling leaf in autumn, the first snowflake of winter, a big puddle left over from a rainstorm or ant walking across a window sill can put a huge smile on child’s face (where these very same things can stress out adults). So why not take a look at the world from the eyes of a child every now and then?

Getting that innocent yet optimistic outlook on life is much easier than you think. Look back for that magical time in your life – a time where every day was better than the one before it and everything seemed exciting. The summer of 1984 sticks out in my mind as a time when every day was better than the one before it – it was the summer I mentioned earlier that I spent discovering the woods in my backyard. Let me walk you down Memory Lane.

I was almost 10 years old and my family had just moved from the city to a rural suburb. I spent my days playing with my new friends from my new neighborhood and we didn’t need expensive toys or gear to have fun. Often, the only thing we’d leave our houses with were backpacks filled with lunches (courtesy of mom) and the maps we drew (thanks to tools borrowed from dad). After a day in the woods, we’d all return to our homes for dinner where we’d eat as fast as we could so we could get back outside to play games like flashlight tag. And then after being called in to the house by our parents, we’d go off to bed and then wake up the following day even more excited.

At that stage of my life, it seemed like there was something exciting going on at least every month. Even after summer ended, there was a lot going on. The school year starting meant that my birthday was only a few weeks away (at that age, we all looked forward to birthdays instead of seeing them as a year closer to an age that ends in a zero). The fall was full of festive events and holidays such as apple picking, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Halloween was particularly exciting (what kid doesn’t like free candy?) as opposed to the chore that we see it as adults (we can’t go out, we have to leave the office on time and we need to ensure that have enough candy). Thanksgiving was more than just football and food – it was family, dressing up like pilgrims at school and giving thanks.

Christmas was the best part of wintertime. Putting up the tree and decorating the house was fun. Opening presents was even more fun. There was no holiday rush or last minute shopping trips; instead we’d count down the days until that magic visit from Santa. Lights and decorations meant much more than higher electric bills and we’d actually take the time to appreciate the decorative mastery of our own neighbors as well as homes of folks we didn’t know.

The next big holiday was New Years Eve and that was the night we got to stay up late. Like birthdays, new years were exciting and marked a new beginning as opposed to being a milestone that marks another year of disappointments. The winter had a number of lesser known holidays (unfortunately, most employers don’t close for them as schools do), but also a winter break. The occasional snow storm that would hit the area where I lived meant a possibility of a day off from school but a guarantee that there’d be sledding and snowball wars. There were no worries about how the weather would affect the commute.

The spring brought with it a number of things to look forward to. Easter, little league baseball and longer days were the things that I remember most. But of course, it also meant that the school year was almost over and the best part of the year was about to begin – summer vacation.

Now that we’ve completed this stroll down memory lane, it’s time to get back to the original point. Children and adults look at the same situation and see two completely different things. Imagine how your life would change if you were to look at one of your weekly hassles from the eyes of a child. Even better, imagine how your life would be if you acted like a child every now and then.

The next time you’re stressed out or something in the news gets you down, look at the world from a child’s perspective. I’ll never forget overhearing a conversation one morning when a father was his young son and said something like “oh no, it’s snowing!” The boy asked his dad why he didn’t like snow and the father explained that his long drive into work would be difficult because of the traffic the snow creates. The boy just looked up at him and said “then why don’t you get a closer job?”

Without knowing the father, his situation and what type of work he did, it’s hard for me to judge how difficult it would be for him to find another job. But I do wonder if he ever asked himself that simple question. I know that kids always seem to have all the questions but sometimes they may have the answers as well.

So again, when you’re faced with life’s challenges put yourself in a child’s shoes and look at things from their perspective. What questions would they ask? What solutions would they offer? If you need help trying to get into that frame of mind, then try one of the following activities:

  • Sing the A-B-Cs or your favorite song from when you were a child.
  • Count to 100 out loud.
  • Race someone across a field or in a park (find somewhere that’s green as opposed to paved to ensure that you don’t get severely injured if you fall).
  • Get some crayons and some paper and doodle or draw a picture.
  • Find some old clothes and play dress up.
  • Make up a silly joke and laugh about it.
  • Come up with silly names for the people in your life (especially people that cause you stress – just don’t share the names with them).
  • Write a poem.
  • Pretend that you’re your favorite animal and move around your home making animal sounds.
  • Make yourself an ice cream sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top (if you’re watching your weight, make it a small one).
  • Watch a kids show or movie (or if you can, get a DVD of a movie or show that you enjoyed as a kid).
  • Put on your waterproof boots and jump in a big puddle.
  • Build a snowman or have a friendly snowball fight.
  • Rake up a big pile of leaves and then jump in them.
  • Find a small tree and climb up as high as you can go.
  • Explore the woods either in your own backyard or in a public park or forest.
  • Go for a swim or go fishing.
  • Skip rocks across a pond.
  • Make up a silly song describing how you’re feeling at that moment.

Depending on where you grew up and what your own experiences were like, you could probably add to this list. You would be amazed at how these silly activities can snap you out of a bad mood. Physical activities are especially good for this (if you are physically able to do them) as your body releases all sorts of chemicals that give you a natural high. Sometimes, the simple sedentary act of reminiscing is all it takes to pull you out of the doldrums. You know yourself better than anyone else so it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you. Seeing the world through te eyes of a child may not solve all your problems, but it very well could help you get moving in the right direction.

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3 thoughts on “Motivation: The Power of Youth

  1. Prem Rao

    Thanks for a nice read. Brings back memories of one’s childhood.

    I may add that we lose creativity as we grow older and are at our creative best as kids. It’s sad how very creative people lose their edge over time as they are forced to “conform” to norms set by others-most of whom are not half s creative:)

  2. Pingback: Motivation, Creativity & Childhood « People at Work & Play

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