Your Inner Child Carries The Secret To Happiness

Some exercises to help you find bliss.

Sean Kernan
Mar 9, 2020 · 5 min read
Pexels by Skitterphoto

The rain roars and flows down your head and arms. Your feet thud along the wooded trail.

Tree trunks rush past you. Your socks are soaked. Your shoes hang like bricks. You see a puddle up ahead. You run faster.

Then — you leap.

You look down and watch as your feet plunge into the puddle, shooting water on your friend behind you. You both laugh.

Kneeling down, your hand descends to a floating, cylindrical stick. You lift it to eye level. You stare at it, examining the texture. The dripping forest is moving and out of focus behind it.

The stick suddenly transforms into a flying sailboat. Defying gravity, it cruises slowly through the air.

Then, the spits of falling rain turn into fireballs.

The ship takes damage. It slowly arches downwards. The captain shouts to his crew, as they scramble to put out fires in the control room.

Another fireball slams into it. Then another. Then another.

The ship begins forming circles as it screams downward. The body of water rises up faster and faster.

Faster.

Faster.

And as the water is rushing upwards, the captain activates thrusters at the bottom of its hull, quickly slowing its descent, touching it down with ease in the tiny puddle that rises above your ankles.

“Did they survive?”

You turn to see your drenched friend, his face echoing the question.

It was free. Things were simple. Time was slow. And eventually, it arrived. They told us about it. They prepared us for it.

We wished and dreaded it all in the same breath. And now it was here. Adulthood. Freedom.

And perhaps that’s where the confusion began.

Everything suddenly had a price. We became accountable to too many people. We were tasked with producing. We felt the weight of expectations. The weekly grind bored into us.

Childhood embodied the singular pursuit of fun. Adulthood became about to escape, about numbing ourselves, about recharging and unwinding.

Our perspective shifted. The rules. The chores. The bedtimes. We embraced them all.

Our prisons became our playgrounds.

We made new, more real mistakes. We faced the painful reality that being older and being mature were two different things.

Maturity came in the wake of hardship, guilt, and mistakes. We learned to apologize without limiting our apology with explanations. We realized the importance of picking our battles.

We learned to take a loss like an adult, to admit defeat and shake the hand of our better.

We lost people. We learned the futility of life.

We realized our parents were right, about everything. And that’s when we became them.

We changed. A part of us grew — as another part of us died.

Growing Up Takes a Toll

Do you ever notice how much happier children are than adults? It shouldn’t be that way. True magical, youthful happiness is within us.

The spirit of our former selves already peeks out from time to time.

  • You laugh at things you shouldn’t laugh at.
  • You poke fun at your spouse or partner, both of you laughing in your most intimate moments.
  • Sometimes you spazz out in the privacy of your home. Maybe you slide down the hallway in your socks for fun.
  • You may see an old show on TV that sparks your imagination or reconnects you to your childhood.

With a bit of practice, and control, you could leverage these feelings to spread more happiness into your life.

Your Mission

Once a day, channel your inner child.

Forget about your relationship, your problems, your job, your deadlines, and any other festering, adult headaches.

Feel yourself fall away from all of that. And for at least 5 minutes a day, find that tiny, faint sparkle that is still in there somewhere, and remember who you were.

Need help getting into that mindset?

Think back to your earliest grade school crush. Were you terrified? Did you send a messenger to tell her/him? Recall what happened.

Imagine a time you built a sandcastle with friends. Smell the sunscreen. See the other kid across from you, patting sand on the castle. Hear the waves crash. Hear a seagull call as it flies by.

Take those moments and those images that stand out. And manifest them as vividly in your mind as you can. And hold them for longer than seems normal.

Then, let go, and take that spirit with you. Go do things. Imagine stories. Read a book. Don’t have a care in the world.

Break out of your routine. Explore unfamiliar territory. Be illogical. Be random. Try new things just for the heck of it.

Let the world revolve around you. Let the selfish child mind takeover.

Learn something for the sake of learning it, not because it will get you anything or give you some advantage. Just learn it because you think it is cool.

Indulge a creative hobby. Do a terrible painting. Hell, hang it up on the wall.

Stay up past your bedtime. Poke fun at yourself.

Get excited about stupid little things. Laugh at things you aren’t supposed to laugh at. Stretch each minute out and make it last as we did in our youth.

Our inner child is full of joy. Find him or her and the world will suddenly feel larger.

Source: Unsplash Billy Huynh

Are you a part of me? I am a part of you.

Do you see? I do see.

It is dark. I am afraid. Are you afraid? I am not afraid. And you should not be either.

Must we sleep? We must indeed.

Why was that woman mean? Is she a witch? She is not a witch — in the literal sense.

Then why is she so mean? She might hate us. Why “might” hate us? Because the other option is that she loves us. Anger usually comes from those two places.

Why? I do not know.

I wish all girls were as nice as a mother. They can be. If treated right.

Do clouds have feelings?

I do not know.

But what if they did? What would they say? They would probably be no different than us. They would probably flirt with other clouds and procrastinate.

Would they sleep? They would. Perhaps they only sleep, sleep and float and dream. And they also go to the bathroom on us too. Haha — you mean rain. Yes. Rain. And thunder. We know what thunder means. Haha — a cloud farting! Yes indeed.

The sky is pretty. I’d like to become a cloud. A fluffy white one moves quickly across the sky. Your head will look like a cloud with enough years.

And your head too? Yes, of course. And long after that, perhaps we will become those clouds.

I am not afraid anymore. Neither am I.

Learn to be young again. Find your inner child. You won’t have to look far. And, sometimes, you need only listen.

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

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