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What We Can Learn From Children

At the end of the day, they are masters of simple, intrinsic happiness.


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Mathilde Langevin

3 years ago | 3 min read

I spent a day at the beach yesterday with my sister-in-law and my niece. Alongside the perfect weather and our legendary picnic setup, I couldn’t help but marvel at my niece’s invincibility and carefree frame of mind.

Nothing could bother her that day. There was frozen, murky water to play in (that repelled me but was the most exciting attraction for her), there was food to eat, and there was always something to laugh about. There was no annoyance (past, present, or future) that could’ve ruined her day.

People who’ve had children have watched them grow and learn to control their bodies — from crawling to standing, and eventually, to sprinting across the living room floor. Parents cannot help but be impressed by a child’s patience, perseverance, willingness to learn, and unwavering cheerfulness towards life itself. Any parent can testify to this.

On that day, I felt that with one-tenth of my niece’s can-do attitude, I could win a Nobel prize. But it also made me wonder: why is it that this innocent wonder for the world escapes us as we grew older? Are these traits even possible to recultivate as an adult?

And yet, when you come to think about it, it’s all so simple:

Children are the embodiment of mindfulness.

Children do not carry the weight of history or heavy learning experiences on their shoulders. They don’t ponder over the past, nor do they express profound worry about the future. Provided they were born in a loving environment with a naturally cheerful temperament, happiness is easy for them.

They don’t care what people think, they don’t ponder over past judgments people have given them, and they don’t wear themselves thin over what’s going to happen tomorrow. For a child, love, peace, and happiness are so easy because they don’t have the baggage that makes it complicated — nor do they understand why it should be in the first place. And they’re absolutely right.

“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called ‘All the Things That Could Go Wrong’.”
Marianne Williamson

Granted, not all children are born with happy genes and some children do show early signs of anxiety or require extra attention. Certain circumstances such as abuse, hunger, fighting parents, war, etc., can inevitably cause their natural ability to be happy to slowly wilt.

Yet in many cases, even throughout these kinds of predicaments, a child’s natural talent for happiness will prevail — because they are present and mindful and totally at peace with the world around them.

They have simple needs.

Children have very limited wants, which happen to be easily satisfied. Therefore, they are almost always happy. When these needs aren’t met, they will express their dissatisfaction through tears (or the occasional tantrum), but once equilibrium returns: all is forgotten and all is well in the world.

In their first years of life, children learn privilege, entitlement, and begin to understand the societal expectations set for them (inevitably, created by adults). It is only when they realize that they do not receive all of these privileges or fulfill some of society’s harsh expectations do they realize that life may not always be the joy-fest they have thus far imagined it to be.

But if it weren’t for any of that: if a child continued to live their day to day on their own accords, following the ebbs and flows of their moods and their days, confining themselves to no particular box and finding satisfaction in all of the basic things they need to live — happiness is intrinsic and unfettered.

“Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.”
— Rabindranath Tagore

Final Thoughts

We have a lot to learn from children.

At the end of the day, they are masters of innate happiness. They are full proof that mindfulness is our first nature and that chasing it shouldn’t be so difficult, because essentially, we are all inherently born with it.

They show us that our incessant need for this or that and our constant quest for more are not gateways to happiness, but rather roadblocks towards it. They are also distractions and just a heap of more things to care and worry about.

Life is beautiful when it is simple, and a simple life can be liberatingly carefree — but only if we are present enough to fully witness it.

“A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.”
— Paulo Coelho

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Mathilde Langevin


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