Lao Tzu

10 Lessons learned from a 3 year old

I have a beautiful god-daughter who I think is one of the smartest, sweetest, most beautiful kids on the planet.  After minding her I have a further appreciation of sleep and for all parents out there. Kids are wonderful teachers as they can see a world filled with joy and opportunities. I think we could all benefit from having such beliefs.

Below are some things I have learned from her and other children, they are all adding light to an often dark and cynical world.

  1. The world is an amazing place. With fresh eyes we can appreciate so much more around us. Helicopters and airplanes are a marvel. Our imagination is an incredible tool that we rarely use for good. Every morning is a gift and we should all wake up as excited as a child because it means a new day full of possibility.
  2. We rarely check our needs, also known as the: ‘Do you need to wee?’ principle. Kids can get so wrapped up in playing, laughing or watching cartoons that accidents can happen. As you spend your day rushing around do you ever stop and notice your needs or how you’re feeling?  Take a second and close your eyes. Take a slow deep breath through your nose, down into you belly, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Do that a few times then ask yourself: How am I feeling? What do I need? Take note and follow through if you can.
  3. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. This kid only had a few mouthfuls of ice cream then stopped. I repeat, ice cream. Her body told her she was full so she stopped eating. We can get very detached from ourselves, our bodies and what they need. You can change that by trying to eat mindfully (pause between bites and appreciate flavours) then wait at least 10-20 minutes before getting a second helping.
  4. Sometimes a hug and a kiss can make it all better. Life can be difficult at any age. Even more so when we feel alone. A hug won’t make your problems disappear but it can make them feel more manageable. Feeling connected to someone else makes the hard times easier to bear and makes us feel safe. The small child in all of us needs to feel like it will all be okay.
  5. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. From a young age being independent makes us feel strong, capable and in control. But there are times when we can’t do it alone. Try to quiet the judge in your mind, you aren’t weak for needing/wanting help, you’re human.
  6. Bubbles are amazing. No need to elaborate.
  7. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. We want to instil in children that there is nothing wrong with getting it wrong; you will learn and grow. As we get older we forget about that. So many strive for ‘perfection’ feeling that every mis-step is a failure, that we are failures. That simply is not the case. Mistakes are an opportunity for growth. Grieve if you need to, show yourself some compassion then move forward with new knowledge.
  8. Make time to rest when you’re exhausted. Give yourself permission to slow down. Sometimes we all need a nap.
  9. Sharing can be difficult. When we’re young we are taught how important it is to share. As adults with jobs and families we have to once again learn that lesson. Sharing our space and time isn’t easy and we can sometimes feel as though we are stretched too thin. That’s when we refer back to #5 and #8, share with someone your vulnerability and your need for naps.
  10. Love and be loved. Of all the lessons we will ever learn this is of the utmost importance. I believe this is the reason we are here, to learn how to love and how to be loved. Children epitomise this as they love without condition and judgement. They do not question why others love them, they just know it to be true. I think they’re onto something.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” -Lao Tzu

Time

We live in a world of instant gratification. We have centuries of knowledge available at our finger tips. We rush and race both mentally and physically. People are constantly exhausted and no one asks at what pace we are actually meant to function at.

Time is a construct which differs depending on where you live. Living in Western civilisation often means we are very connected to time. Usually talking about what little of it we have. There is so much anxiety related to time that ironically it causes us to waste the precious moments we have.

While on a holiday in Nepal I asked a local man what the weather supposed to be like the following day. He looked at me confused and bewildered and said, ‘How should I know, it’s not tomorrow yet.’ I smiled and knew he was wiser than I.

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We can often get consumed with the past and/or the future, which means we are missing what is happening right now. We don’t give ourselves the space to explore what thoughts or emotions we are experiencing. When was the last time you asked yourself how you were feeling?

Why not start giving yourself a few more minutes a day. Funnily enough making time for a short mediation like the one below can make you feel like you have more time. The amount of guided mediations out there are staggering, find one that fits for you. Then start deciding at what pace you want to live your life, don’t let that be dictated by others.

 “We have been moving along at such a fast pace that we no longer know what we are doing. Now we have to wait until our soul catches up with us.” – Paulo Coelho