What does it take to become childlike
again? Why should we? When we are born, we are all child-like. Somehow, as we grow older we tend to take on certain child-ish behaviors.
Children, like most things in life, come with a combination of good qualities and bad ones. As parents know only too well, children can be both endearing and frustrating, often within minutes of each other.
Children can be spontaneous, unselfconscious, and joyful, but they can also be self-centred, impulsive and irritable.
We could refer to their endearing qualities by the term "childlike," and to their frustrating qualities by the term "childish".
childish (adj.) - behaving badly like a child would childlike (adj.) - having good qualities of a child (e.g.: innocence, curiosity, easily excited, trusts easily etc.)
As we grow into adulthood, we learn how to tame or lose most of our childishness - we become more mature, and more in control of our emotions, but unfortunately, we also lose much of our childlikeness as well - we are less capable of being spontaneous, unselfconscious and joyful. In other words, we lose the good with the bad.
An unfinished list of attributes
Curiosity, short tempered
Fun loving ashamed
Is it possible to retain childlike qualities even as we mature into adulthood? Or, put differently, what would it take to retain just the good qualities associated with being a child and lose the bad ones?
The complete answer to this question is long and intricate, but one thing is obvious if you observe children carefully: their interest in an activity has little to do with the rewards associated with doing the activity well; rather, their interest in an activity depends almost entirely how much they enjoy the activity.
You can make a child do something he doesn't enjoy by bribing him, but you can't make him enjoy that activity through the bribe.
Thus, an important rule by which a childlike person lives is this: he always accords greater importance to enjoyment of an activity than to the rewards associated with doing that activity well.
In sum, becoming childlike really takes a variety of abilities:
awareness of why we lose our childlikeness,
courage to challenge society's views about what's worthy of pursuit, and, finally,
intelligence to figure out an alternative set of rules by which to live.
In short, it isn't child's play to be childlike; in fact, it takes great maturity to be childlike. But, the good news is, it can be done.
Do you have it in you to become a child again?
Furthermore, I now realize that child-like is who we really are at our essence, and child-ish is the illusion that we sometimes trap ourselves in.
A parting question for you:
What do YOU do to engage your child-like qualities?