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10 Happiness Secrets From a 4 Year Old
If you want to feel happier, sometimes it can be best to go back to basics and learn from those around us who seem the happiest. In my life, it’s probably my 4-year-old.
He seems to have pretty much sussed happiness.
It is often believed that wisdom comes with age. But sometimes the years make us forget what’s really important, as we get bogged down in the details of how to worry, how to stress, and how to feel grumpy. We can focus so much on teaching our children things we think we know, that we can forget about everything they have to teach us.
So, just in case you’re ready to remember how to feel happier, here are 10 happiness secrets my toddler loves to share with us “grownups”!
- Ask what you want – We often end up feeling frustrated, even angry, because others can’t seem to guess what we really wanted. “Don’t ask, don’t get!” is a mantra for my 4 year old. If he wants something, he tells me. He doesn’t always get it, but he’s always honest about his needs – something vital to feeling happier.
- say what you think – When was the last time you heard a child do anything other than say what he was thinking? There’s no way to pretend; no half-truths (unless you caught them doing something mean!). Basically, speaking your truth – with compassion and some degree of wisdom – is an essential step to feeling happier.
- I will cry if I want – Small children know how to express their emotions. They don’t hold back. Sure, that means adults have to deal with tantrums in the supermarket, but have you ever noticed that once the emotion is “out there,” kids let it go. Unlike adults, who can retain pent up emotions, resentments and bitterness for decades. So the 4-year-old’s advice is to allow yourself to feel emotions, if need be. So let them go.
- You can also wear your boots – This one is about being yourself – and expressing the wonder of who you are in everything you do. So if that means wearing Paddington’s red rubber boots whenever you feel like it, do it! We do not care? And if you mind, you might want to check the next point…
- Don’t care what other people think – There is a wonderful time in childhood when we really don’t care what other people think. We’re so wrapped up in our own world that we don’t realize there are others out there (or in our heads!) judging what we look like or what we do. The thing is, we can come back to this experience whenever we want. Just let go of worrying about what other people think of you. It can be really liberating.
- Spend time with those you love – Have you ever noticed how young children gravitate towards those they love to be with and avoid spending time with those who make them unhappy. Is there really an excuse to change that, as we get older?
- tell silly jokes – My 4 year old son is just starting to tell jokes. They’re not funny in the classic sense, and almost always feature someone carrying a pot on their head, but they make them laugh hysterically, along with the rest of us. Laughter really can be the best therapy and looking for the fun side of things – no matter how grim the situation may seem – can be life changing.
- To show creativity – Sometimes we can get stuck in our heads, with problems and worries going around in circles. How about jumping in and getting creative instead? Doing something completely different can activate the creative side of your brain and help you suddenly spot solutions that were previously hidden. The 4-year-old’s response is usually to bake cakes with Grandma, make up stories with her toys, or paint pictures. How about finding your own favorite creative version?
- If at first you don’t succeed… – When a child learns to walk, he falls a lot. They can’t quite coordinate movements. Maybe they don’t have enough muscle strength. Yet they continue to move forward, towards their dream of walking. They never give up hope. They know they can do it. And we encourage them, excited by each wavering step. What if we did this for us, with our big dreams? Instead of giving up at the first hurdle and then fighting over it?
- Go pick a daisy – As adults, we rarely take the time to marvel at the beauty of the little things in life. Stopping to admire a sunset or marveling at the beauty of a small daisy can help us put things into perspective, feel happier, faster.
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