Isn’t it obvious? Children are the purest human beings on the planet.
They have had less time to be conditioned by adults who themselves have been conditioned by other adults who have been conditioned… Ad freaking infinitum.
Someone needs to tell this little girl that it is not appropriate to have paint on your hands in business meetings. Or does she need to ask them why not?
1. Children Embrace Imagination As Adults Pursue “Maturity”
Human psychological maturity is defined as “acting appropriately in context of time and culture.”
Read: conforming to social rules.
But in a life that already has a glaring, unavoidable limit of around 28,726 days, more limits don’t make sense unless they are absolutely necessary. I wholeheartedly recommend that you do limit your consumption of arsenic, cyanide, mercury, Taco Bell, lead, and Actaea pachypoda.
But pure imagination is safe in very large doses, so long as your sense of reality is not lost (see: Inception – a good movie).
Think about the power of imagination. Any situation can be turned into an adventure with adequate imagination. That is exciting.
It is more than a TPS report can ever hope to be.
The worst part is that adults have more brainpower and therefore more imaginative capability than children, and yet most of us decide to suppress such an enjoyable gift of life. Though not all of us. For example, we have some filmmakers and authors that blow us away with their imaginations. These are people that decided to hang on to that childhood magic that isn’t “suitable for adults” (I think of Tim Burton).
It isn’t that children have more imagination than adults, it’s that they’re not yet embarrassed about it.
When you’re sitting on a bench with a friend – bored – why not explore an imaginary story or situation that interests you? Why not act out that story or situation? Why not pretend that you’re someone else for a while? Why not mentally create a new product or creature?
There are a million reasons why not – it’s embarrassing, it would be weird of course, and you might not be very good at it from lack of practice.
And yet…there is one great reason TO do it – it’s fun. Doing everything as a “mature adult” is fine, but it can get rather boring when everything is predictable and ordinary. How can we enjoy a crazy, unrealistic movie one minute and the next minute think someone is acting immature when they pretend their arm is a laser cannon? That’s just how we’ve been conditioned and it isn’t fair to the laser cannon man in all of us.
There is nothing immature about acting out a play in the middle of a mall – people just aren’t used to it. In fact, you’ll find that well-done imaginative work is well-loved by the public. Consider Improv Everywhere putting on an impromptu rendition of Ghost Busters in the New York Public Library.
It turned a hum-drum library day into an interesting one – smiles were everywhere.
Children start out with a strong appreciation for the imaginative, and that appreciation is gradually beaten down with “reality.”
But that’s just the problem.
Imagination is all about creating a new reality.
2. Children Are More Likely To Have Complete Trust
When we’re born and up until a certain age, we are completely at the mercy of others and are forced to trust them with our lives.
At some point, we strike independence and become more self-reliant – a good thing. However, self-reliance and the required skepticism to make it in this world combine to decrease our willingness and ability to trust trustworthy people with our love and lives. The bond of complete trust is one of the strongest human bonds there is – and many kids have it in spades (or hearts, for the emotional ones out there).
3. Children Don’t Make Assumptions
One of the biggest problems in human relationships that causes arguments is that we all tend to make false assumptions from time to time. You see I’m unemployed and assume I’m lazy. Jane sees a guy with lots of tattoos and thinks she knows why he got them and what type of person he is. When you tell a self-conscious girl she’s beautiful, she assumes you’re mocking her.
Adults can take a face-value comment and twist it into something it is not and was never intended to be.
If I tell a little girl she’s beautiful, she’ll blush or twirl or something cute like that.
And when children look at people, they see….people. They don’t try to define and label people they don’t know because they aren’t so well-acquainted with today’s stereotypes. In this way they are more mature than adults.
Everyone has a story – a unique story – so let’s start acting like children and drop the all-encompassing labels.
4. Children Live Fun, Simple Lives
When you grew up and saw how young and naive you were as a tot, did you also recognize what you lost?
The life of a child is one of fewer responsibilities. When you have fewer responsibilities, what do you end up doing most of the time? You do the things you want to do.
As adults, we have responsibilities because we need to do certain things – but far fewer things than we think. Consider this video about the Mexican fisherman (seen here) who lived the life he wanted to with few demands of his time. To provide food for his family, he went fishing (a retirement activity). He lived the simple life.
Children might have chores here and there, but they are generally provided for and can enjoy playing with other kids and pursuing what they want. That is, kids have fun for a living. They simply do what they want (so long as the parents approve).
Maybe I included this one because I used to play video games all day as a kid… guilt-free. Now when I play something, I know I have bills to pay, blog posts to write, companies to create, and a wife to find (honey, stop being so elusive).
Embrace your inner child and rethink “maturity.”
Tim Ferriss suggested a funny starting point for getting “comfortable” in public in The Four Hour Work Week – lie down on your back on the floor in a public place. When Tim did it and people asked him about it, he told the confused onlookers that he “just felt like resting.” (which they found amusing)
I did it today at the Verizon store to demonstrate the principle to my sister (She snagged a Samsung Charge, which is annoyingly better than my Droid Incredible). I was still treated like a human being afterwards, so it wasn’t devastating like you might think.
And while you’re lying down, you might as well flip over and try out planking. Have fun out there, kids! Adults just play in a bigger sandbox, right?
photo credit: boliston