Sometimes we’re in such a rush to grow up and become independent that we forget to nurture our inner child. The carefree, enthusiastic nature we had as children may turn into a sarcastic, cynical outlook over time. A trip to the fair can easily turn into a day of complaining. Why are tickets so expensive—and do we have to pay to park, too? Those games are all rigged. The food consists of three things: fat, salt, and sugar.
But for a child, any new experience is magical. Cotton candy isn’t just spun sugar; it’s an edible cloud from heaven. Winning a simple carnival game is a great victory. A walk through a creaky hall of mirrors becomes an adventure.
Seeing things from a child’s perspective of wonder and excitement can inspire us, help us to succeed, and remind us to keep a lighthearted mindset.
I was helping out with my church’s Vacation Bible School this past summer, and on our last day of classes, we brought out the parachute as a special treat. Everyone loves the parachute—that colorful, floppy circle light enough for the wind to buoy into the air. It was my favorite part of gym class when I was small—a “game” that didn’t have winners or losers. The church’s parachute was old and holey. Some of the handles had ripped off the sides and the brilliance of the colors had faded from many hours of play in the sun. These flaws in the parachute were invisible to the children.
As soon as they saw it, their eyes lit up and they started chatting about how much they loved the parachute (and how pleased they were that the day’s game wasn’t going to be another dreaded sack race). What pleasure a colored circle of nylon can bring! Everyone gathered around the parachute and grabbed a handle—or a piece of fabric in the spots where the handles were missing.
When the children heaved the parachute into the air and it belled up and out to meet the summer sun, I put myself in their shoes. I pretended I was as carefree as a child for just that one moment. On the count of three, we all rushed inside the rainbow dome of the parachute, pulling it close around us. A smile brightened every child’s face—and my own.
Seeing and playing with that symbol of childhood gave me a revelation. We can find memories of the children we used to be everywhere. Those memories can give us inspiration for life. The best way to live is to live like a child: Live in the present. Let simple pleasures in life fill you with joy. Tackle any project with enthusiasm and hope. Don’t get upset over petty things. Live every day like it’s your last. Take time to play with people you love. Accept others for who they are.
Once we leave elementary school, our inner child can start to fade away into the background. In the rush of the real world, it’s easy to forget about the happiness our inner youth can bring to our souls. Spend just a few minutes each day nurturing your inner child—that spirit of enthusiasm, contentedness, and imagination. Play a game, watch a Disney movie, take a nature walk. Over time, your entire outlook may change to one of positivity and satisfaction.