Provided they haven’t experienced powerful trauma, kids are naturally very skillful at enjoying life. In the healthiest situations they are excited by their fears; they want to stay up and hear the scary campfire story that will keep them up all night terrified. They believe they can do anything. And every experience is met with wonder. And they grow and grow and grow.
We don’t limit ourselves to the expected when we’re a kid. Those expectations haven’t been reinforced enough yet, so we see more possibility at those ages. This is natural.
As we age we could argue that the odds of the unexpected happening are long, and yet it is also true that even long odds are ultimately true sometimes, so the kids always have the chance that they’re right.
We can live in a boring adult world where the boarded-up houses we walk by are presumed to be the result of a death or bankruptcy, or we can live where kids live; where houses are boarded up because they’re haunted. Waves are sea serpents, basements contain boogeymen, and all meteor’s are spaceships. When we’re young we go into every situation anticipating adventure. And doing so, we find more of them.
As we age repetitive experiences limit our imagination. If we’re abused long enough we’ll start to actually seek out abuse because that’s all we can fit into our highly limited imagination. We start to think that’s how life is, rather than how we allowed it to be. Yet still, our child-mind is still alive within us. We still maintain the ability to see things another way.
Think of the people you know. The freest ones are the ones who are willing to offer the craziest solutions. They just never say die. There’s always good news somewhere and they’re just as pleased to search for it as find it.
Other friends see gloom and doom at every corner. They see the worst in others. They see lots of limits; lots of reasons that things can’t happen. Which group feels like they actually contribute to making the world better? The dark truth-tellers, or the excited and creative?
If we don’t believe something’s possible we won’t take the steps to see that thing happen in our life. If we think we’ll never have friends because everyone hates us, then we’ll never have friends because we’ll never meet anyone –because we’d guessed they’d all hate us when in reality we’re like anyone else and only some of them would have hated us. But even they would only hate us out of confusion.
In the deepest spiritual sense, our friends don’t love us more than our enemies, they just see us more clearly. Likewise, enemies are made of thought. But kids don’t judge that much.
Friendship is a childlike thing that we do less of as we age. When we’re young we’re more prepared to assume someone might be the source of good experiences but, by the time we’re older we just sit in judgment much of the time. We disregard more and more kinds of people unlike us, and then we wonder why we don’t have more fun.
Our life is a set of beliefs about things we think can’t happen or have to happen, but those beliefs are not the actual world they’re just our idea of it.
People’s lives change every day, but in most cases change happens when we actually begin to do things differently. The first different thing we can do is truly monitor our judgments about things, and find our own limits within those judgments.
Again: those limitations are not the world, those are ideas we have and they prevent us from experiencing all that life has to offer. We will all be healthier if we’re more childlike.
It’s a worthy thing to study the fabric of our limits. We need to ask ourselves, how have we actually changed since we were children? What things did we think were possible that we’ve talked ourselves out-of since?
We benefit from being open to more possibility. There is nothing wrong with imagining a life bigger than our current ego would allow us to ever feel we deserved. That is the only place those lives come from, the rest of people were held back by their own self-imposed limits.
We can have something bigger. For whatever ‘faults’ he may have, people call Elon Musk’s dreams crazy, but does he care? He doesn’t have the time or thought-space available to waste time thinking about other people’s judgments: he’s too busy building a spaceship! And if his lack of limits can get him to Mars, where can ours get us?
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own over-thinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.