8 ‘Childish’ Joys That Will Make You Happier Than 99% Of People

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Happy group of friends in a van

A few evenings ago, I sat outside reflecting on life under the night sky. As a few hours passed, I noticed the movement of the stars and constellations during that time — they weren't in the same spot as they were when I first sat down.

Then a thought hit me; we're moving! I’m on a round object (a.k.a. Earth) that is spinning and flying through space.

When was the last time you paused to ponder the science and wonder of that? 

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I'd like to propose that we embrace some of those childlike qualities we've lost. The world would certainly be more creative, conscious, inclusive, and innovative if more grownups remembered what it's like to be a kid. 

Here are 8 totally ‘childish’ joys that will make you incredibly happy:

1. Being endlessly curious

Take the time to slow down to notice the world around you. Like my reflection that we are living on a spinning moving ball, look at your world from a new perspective. What does your curiosity say about you? What can you learn from your curiosity?



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2. Having a sense of adventure

When was the last time you took a risk? What stops you from taking a risk?

I’m not advising you to do anything dangerous, but try something outside of your comfort zone, or something completely different from what you typically would do. Afterward, reflect on what you learned from the experience.

3. Taking a few risks

Similar to my caveat above, I am not suggesting you try anything dangerous or damaging, but when was the last time you acted without thinking it through or planning the action? What about spontaneously taking a day trip or surprising someone with a visit? Take a risk once in a while. 

4. Living in the moment

Honestly, it is my experience with children that I learned about the peace you feel when living in the moment. I spent several years as a chaplain at a children’s hospital, and regardless of the outcome of the child’s condition, they chose to live in the moment instead of dwelling on the future.



Children who were dying (and knew what that meant) would say to me that "dying will happen later" and invite me to play with them. It was myself and the family of the child (the adults!) who dwelt on future thoughts of losing the child, all the while, missing the opportunity — right here, right now — to enjoy time with the child.

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5. Playing often

What is the purpose of playtime? To have fun, relax, be creative, learn skills, socialize, etc. Find opportunities that will result in those qualities being realized. How could you approach a challenge at work with a more playful mindset? How could you play more as a spouse, parent, or friend?

6. Napping

Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Spain, Italy, Greece, the Philippines, and Nigeria all take siestas, or naps in the afternoon. Maybe we need to find their wisdom and do likewise.

If you can't take a nap, you find 10 minutes to close your eyes, or 10 minutes to walk around your office, building, etc. Just 10 minutes away from the stress and busyness of the day can refresh you mentally and emotionally.

7. Unleashing your creativity

In his TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson shared a story about a young child who was coloring. The teacher asked the child what she was drawing, and the child replied "A picture of God." The teacher said, "But no one knows what God looks like." The child replied, "They will in a minute." Whether you paint, doodle, craft, build, or otherwise, letting your creativity out makes the world (and your own life) more colorful.

8. Asking lots of questions    

Many years ago, when starting my first teaching experience in a high school, I was given this advice: "If you don’t know the answer to one of their questions, make it up. They won’t know the difference and you won’t look stupid."

Even as a novice teacher in my early 20s, I understood how WRONG that advice was. How is it that once we reach adulthood, we're suddenly expected to know the answer to all questions about everything? In the workplace, how often have many of us made up an answer to avoid looking "stupid" among our colleagues? (I admit — I have.)

Children are usually happy and free because they don’t yet understand societal conventions, so they live their lives in the present moment.

I'm not implying that we give up societal conventions and do whatever we want. That could lead to chaos (or to a peaceful planet. Hmmm).

What I am suggesting is that we remember what made us happy and peaceful as a child and incorporate more of that into our lives now as adults.

I challenge you to join me tonight by watching the stars. As you do, reflect upon your ride of life on this ball whirling through space.

Do you fear the ride and avoid it? Or, are you willing to raise your hands and scream "Woohooooo!" as you spin around? 

Can you simply let yourself enjoy the ride?

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Christopher Shea, MA, CRAT, CAC-AD, LCC, is the founder and a life coach and counselor at Lifesjourney Life Coaching, LLC. He has been featured in the New York Times, BBC Worldwide, The Take Away, Spirit of Recovery, and more.