June Topic:

Regaining Our

Childlike Wonder

When my daughters were growing up, I found that I experienced many things again through their eyes. There is something magical about all the firsts that little ones experience, and the childlike wonder at the world around them. It’s as if they’re using all their senses in a way we lose and take for granted as we grow older. When was the last time you relished the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, or the feel of sand between your toes or grass under your feet?


In her March 10, 2014, article titled, How to regain a sense of childlike wonder, Carroll Baker writes that children are naturally mindful. “Children have an innate earthy curiosity, a spirited determination, and a gentle honesty. They’re also naturally mindful. They live in a world where anything is possible and each and every moment is a potential adventure waiting to unfold.”

Reviving and maintaining a sense of childlike wonder can have an impact on our mental health. While it won’t take away the pain of loss, the stress of a bad day, or the challenges that may come, keeping a sense of childlike wonder can help us have a more positive view of life, no matter what lies ahead. Those who maintain this childlike perspective are also often more hopeful, regardless of life’s difficulties.

A Childlike View Can Improve Creativity

In addition to a more positive outlook, having a childlike sense of curiosity can also lead to enhanced creativity. In her article, Baker cites clinical psychologist Dr. Dina Haslan, who states that everyone is born creative, but we begin to rein in our creativity because of how we think we should act as we grow older. “Adults worry about what people think of them, so they start to temper their own naturalistic and creative intentions,” she says.

Author Kira Gochuico also visits the relationship between creativity and childlike wonder in her article for Project Bold Life, The Seven Secrets of Maintaining Childlike Wonder. “Maintaining childlike wonder cultivates a creative mind.” She cites Aspen Institute CEO Walter Isaacson who writes about creativity in his book, Einstein: His Life and Universe: “Throughout his life, Albert Einstein would retain the intuition and the awe of a child. He never lost his sense of wonder at the magic of nature’s phenomena-magnetic fields, gravity, inertia, acceleration, light beams-which grown-ups find so commonplace. ‘People like you and me never grow old,’ he wrote to a friend later in life. ‘We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.’”

Photo Credit: Kris Lesneski of her daughter, Luna. Kris, an MHA volunteer, is a Social Worker, Yoga Coach and Holistic Health Practitioner.

Gochuico also shares the following secrets for maintaining a sense of childlike wonder (Hint-they’re not that hard):


1. Smile

Smile when you feel like it. Smile when you don’t. This step may seem irrelevant in developing a childlike sense of wonder, but by intentionally choosing to smile no matter what, you are helping yourself feel happier and have a more positive outlook. The decision to smile can help you develop unadulterated enthusiasm for things that are fun or exciting. Plus, you’ll be able to follow the next steps relatively easier.

2. Be Kind

Don’t be selfish with words of encouragement. Compliment people. If they’re doing a good job, then say it! Greet people appropriately when you meet them on the street, in the office, or on the elevator. See the best in people. Put others first. This step can help you develop genuine sincerity. Also, kindness is connected to contentedness. So, for the small things and for the big things you have, be grateful.

3. Be Curious

Try looking up in the sky and wonder about the clouds, the color of the sky—everything. Suspend your disbelief and try to forget logic when the situation calls for it. Ask questions—no matter if they “sound stupid”. Wonder a lot.

4. Listen and Understand

Stop jumping to conclusions. Don’t judge. Choose to give people the benefit of the doubt. Decide to see things from the other person's point of view. Take things as they are. When people say, “It’s okay” or “I accept your apology,” take it as it is. Don’t doubt their sincerity—even when they reject yours. Decide to stop, listen, and understand.

5. Always Hope for the Best

Don’t let your current situation define how you feel. Yes, it’s good to validate your emotions and to let yourself feel sadness or anger. But don’t stop there. Decide to look for the silver lining in every dark cloud. Even when everything looks dire, stop yourself from giving into the bottomless pit of cynicism.

6. Decide to be Fearless

Don’t back down from challenges. Be bold with your ideas. Practice honesty that is motivated by kindness and without any malice. This step goes together with hoping for the best and understanding of others. Regardless of how other people view you or your idea--because you hope for the best and give others the benefit of the doubt, you can free yourself from the trap of overthinking and judging others—thus, allowing yourself to be truly fearless in life. Also, deciding to be fearless can help you take the last step.

7. Dream Big—Regardless of Your Age

Be fearless and dream big! Life is too short to dwell on past mistakes and worry about failing again. If you fail again today, try again tomorrow. Hoping for the best and deciding to be fearless will help spur you to dream big regardless of where you are in your life now. C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.”

"You’ve painted the world new colors with every

adventure we embark on. Every sound is new.

Every leaf you pick up, every bird you point out,

every stranger you wave at, reminds me

how special being in this world is."

-Chasten Glezman Buttigieg

Looking at the world through a child’s eyes means looking at the world with awe and wonder, Baker notes the things that are enchanting to children are things that we no longer see as inspiring. . .“a midsummer storm, the mystical colors of a rainbow, even a tiny caterpillar scurrying up the garden path.” Baker also notes that looking at the world through a child’s eyes means seeing the world with love. “Children are endlessly curious, and they have an enormous capacity for love. . .As adults we need to learn to hug each other more; to forgive those we feel have wronged us and to open our hearts and minds to the intricate beauty of humanity. We can learn to recapture our innocent childlike grace by practicing gentle acts of kindness to friends and to strangers.”

I also came across this lovely Father’s Day post from Chasten Glezman Buttigieg, husband of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. They are the parents of twins. In it, he writes, “I’d read to you all day if you’d let me. But you won’t because there are bubbles and birds and airplanes ‘owside’ we have to see. And ‘big bus’ and firetrucks to wave at. You’ve painted the world new colors with every adventure we embark on. Every sound is new. Every leaf you pick up, every bird you point out, every stranger you wave at reminds me how special being in this world is.”

I know that the day-to-day burdens we carry into adulthood can be exhausting and at times scary, but if we view the world through a childlike lens, we can find beauty and wonder in the things we pass by every day without notice. Next time you’re out for a walk, take a moment to look up at the clouds and relish the feel of the sun on your face. Next time you have ice cream, think about how yummy it is and not how many calories are in it. And, the next time you pass a beautiful flower, be like Luna, and bury your face in its beauty! 

Take Action

On your next walk, commute, or finishing errands, practice seeing the world around you through the eyes of a child.


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