A few years ago I became an adopted grandma and had a five year old living in my house for awhile. I have to admit that seeing the world through the eyes of a five year old is an excellent reminder to lighten up. She and my cats were clearly put in my life to remind me to play and have fun, no matter what I am doing.
Yesterday while taking a walk with my granddaughter and her mother, we decided to jog. Thoughts began to run through my mind of how long it had been since I’d been jogging and I started to wonder how far I’d actually be able to do it. The more I thought like this, the less enjoyable jogging became. But lo and behold, the little one came running up from behind me with a big smile on her face and took my hand as if to say, “Isn’t this fun?”! In a moment of self-observation I realized that jogging happily or jogging miserably were as simple as a choice—either way, I was jogging. I’m quite certain that her thoughts had nothing to do with the past or the future as mine did. Her thoughts were solely in the present moment in which we were happily running on the beach together on an absolutely beautiful day.
When I am faced with cleaning the house or some other mundane task, the little one runs over and asks what she can do to help. Whether sweeping, dusting, or feeding the dogs, she tackles each as if it were a game rather than a chore.
Whenever music comes on she jumps up and says, “Let’s dance!” Then she moves with passion to the beat as if the music is a part of her soul. I remember when I was five and would dance like that, no matter who was watching.
And then, of course, there is the realm of relationships. We all melt when she jumps up and down and runs to the door, joyful to see us when we come home from wherever we’ve been. I can’t help but wonder how different our relationships would be if we all looked at our partners through our own inner five-year-old eyes and greeted them with such enthusiasm. What if we got in as many hugs and kisses as we possibly could each day? What if we turned every task into an adventure? What if we were excited about meeting new people and telling them all about our favorite things and inviting them to dance with us?
When do we get disconnected from these child-like engagements with life and others? My guess is that it is a gradual process of disconnect rather than a wake-up-one-day-with-a-bad-attitude kind of thing. What I am 100 percent sure of is that these child-like qualities—enthusiasm, creativity, joy, imagination, compassion, loving kindness, energy—don’t actually go away; instead, our access to them gets blocked by our beliefs and our experiences. Somewhere along the way, someone manages to squash our enthusiasm, telling us to grow up and stop being silly; or perhaps they put us down or are not joyful recipients of our loving kindness. Slowly we learn to protect that part of ourselves and keep it a secret. Unfortunately, for many of us, our defense mechanisms—designed to keep us safe—start to build up such a thick wall that we, ourselves, forget about our secret, sacred selves, too.
While it may not be appropriate to evoke our child-like enthusiasm in every situation, it would certainly be nice if we had the choice and could access it when we wanted. For instance, to gleefully greet those we love without any fear of “losing face” or to fully engage in the present moment of petting a cat, seeing a rainbow, washing the dishes or taking a jog.
Begin to self-observe how you are showing up and see if you can bring forth joy into your daily life and into your relationships. After all, “elation” is the core of rELATIONships.
Intellectual Foreplay Question of the Week: When was the last time you simply played make-believe?
Love Tip of the Week: Enthusiasm comes from the root words En Theo, meaning In God. Practice gratitude and you will be introduced, or re-introduced, to your child-like enthusiasm for life.