I have learnt many life lessons from my two children. In fact, I learn just as much from them as they do from me. They are teachers hiding in little bodies. They are wise men who don't realize the power of their own wisdom.
I notice that the insight they provide happens at the most unexpected times. Often, I fail to see these lessons because I am too busy in my own world.
Today, I reflected on the ten greatest lessons that I have learnt from my children.
Lesson 1: It’s “Play” Time
One of the most powerful words my kids use is the word “play.” When I ask them what they plan to do today, their answer is simple but yet profound - “play”.
Play? In my adult world, what does this mean?
It is amazing that children can have no plans and then all of a sudden jump into a game or adventure or fantasy.
When was the last time you heard an adult say that they were just going to play?
Life shouldn’t be taken too seriously. We all need to carve out time in our days to have spontaneous fun. Don’t wait for “fun” times to come... actively seek or create it.
When I see my boys stomp through mud or jump into a snow pile, I chuckle because in a way I wish I could be just like them.
Lesson 2: Why? Why? Why?
Children like to ask, “Why?” This question just about drove me nuts because it was never ending. Why this? Why that?
I now realize that they weren’t asking “Why” to annoying, but they genuinely wanted to know why things are the way they are.
Adults don’t ask "why" or say, "I don't know" enough.
We think that we know the answer or we are too scared to admit that we don't. It's a close-minded approach.
Asking "why" creates curiosity. Asking "why" promotes learning. Asking "why" leads to knowledge.
Lesson 3: Pay Attention to Details
I was walking with my boys when all of a sudden my youngest son stopped.
I turned around and said “Let’s keep going."
He stared into my eyes and said sternly “Dad, wait! There is something on you.”
I looked down on my right arm and saw a ladybug clinging on for dear life.
I was too busy daydreaming in my own mind to notice a ladybug on my arm but yet my son was able to spot it from 5 feet away. Absolutely amazing…
When we are young, everything is new to us, so we spend more time observing the wonders of our world. As we grow up, the new becomes old and we lose the ability to observe deeply. I notice that children can spend hours looking at things that bore us in minutes.
When I look at the ladybug, I see a ladybug. But when my son looks at a ladybug he sees, 5 dots, a red shell, 6 legs, and 2 wings.
We are surrounded by beauty everywhere. To see this beauty all we have to do is pay attention.
Lesson 4: Learn to Laugh Again
Laughing is good for us. It brings out our happiness and joy. Unfortunately as adults we don't laugh enough. When was the last time you laughed so hard your stomach hurt?
Here is a ridiculous statistic “The average four-year-old laughs 300 times a day. The average 40-year-old? Only four”
There is something wrong when we as adults feel ashamed for laughing or can't find any reason to laugh. It's time for us to change that.
Watch a comedy or stand-up comedic. Pour some drinks with your close friends. Act silly and let loose.
Do whatever it takes to rekindle this lost part of your life.
Lesson 5: Quickly Forgive and Forget
If I punish my children or stop them from doing something, they get mad at me.
They give me the silent treatment, shed a few tears, avoid me, or even at one point tell me they hate me.
But I never give in because I know that children forgive and forget very quickly. One hour they are mad, the next hour they are your best buddy again.
Adults tend to hold on to feuds and conflicts that cause them sadness, pain, and resentment. There are times that we never forgive and forget.
If you are holding onto grudges it's time to get over it. Resentment is a poison you drink hoping that will hurt the other person. It’s really a battle you cannot win. The more time you waste on negative thoughts and feelings, the less time you have to enjoy your life.
Lesson 6: Understand the Value of Time
Have you ever tried to tell a child that it is bedtime while they were in the middle of a game? Unfortunately, I have to do this every night. It’s hard to convince them that the more sleep they get, the more energy they will have to play tomorrow.
What's the lesson here?
Life is short. When you are doing something enjoyable, keep doing it.
There is no guarantee that there will be a tomorrow, so why not make the most of things today. Kids are so good at this. They try to squeeze in every minute of play time possible regardless of how tired they are.
As adults, it’s powerful for us to see that our lives won't last forever, so its best to enjoy and be grateful for every day you have.
Lesson 7: No Dream is Too Big
Try asking a child, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and you will hear some pretty cool answers. The answers will range from doctors, to astronauts, to superheroes. Both of my two boys both want to become professional soccer players.
It’s a valiant dream to have.
When we are young, we don’t realize that we have limitations.
We haven’t yet met people who tell us we aren’t smart, strong, fast, tall, handsome, or responsible enough to make our dreams become a reality.
Here’s the truth - the only person who can tell you that you aren't good enough is YOU.
Write down your dreams and chase them. Even if you don't accomplish your dreams, you can rest in peace knowing that you were brave enough to try.
Lesson 8: Baby Body Language Skills
I love talking to babies. Between the ages of 6 months to 1 year is one of the best times to interact with them.
In adults, upwards to 90% of all communication is done non-verbally. Body language is the key to being a great communicator.
Babies, do not know how to speak, so they convey their thoughts through non-verbal cues.
When I speak to a baby here is what I notice:
· They gaze deeply into your eyes because of their curiosity
· They listen intently and tilt their heads
· They smile back at you when they hear or see something they like
· They respond to your voice with “baby babble”
· They wave their arms and kick their feet when they are excited, sad or hungry.
Try speaking to a baby and watch them intently. There is a lesson to be learned here.
Lesson 9: Be Fearless
It is scary to be a parent.
I get anxious watching my boys climb and do tricks on the monkey bars.
But if you carefully watch children, you will see how fearless they are. They have to learn so many things in such a short span of time.
· Learn how to crawl and walk
· Learn how to ride a bike
· Head to pre-school for the first time
· Sing in front of hundreds of parents at a Christmas concert
· Present book reports to their entire class
· Make friends with new classmates every year
As adults, we run away from our fears rather than challenge them. These fears end up preventing us from becoming our best selves. Personal growth only comes when you step out of your comfort zone.
Here is a blog that I wrote about fear and how to deal with it.
Lesson 10: Unconditional Love
I have become a better man because of my children.
They have taught me what it feels like to love something unconditionally and be able to express my love on a daily basis.
Imagine what this world would become if we could all love the people around us like we love our children. Our unconditional love would flow to our family, friends, and coworkers, like a waterfall flows into a lake.
This world would be a much better place if we could all just start with this lesson.
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