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Sunday, March 1, 2009

10 Big Lessons from Little Kids

“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.”

- Franklin P. Jones

Have you ever watched a child completely engrossed in a project? They have the unusual ability to be serious about what they’re doing without taking it too seriously. You can do the same with your life. You can live every day with more focus, and every week with more motivation.

Here’s what every child knows that you may have forgotten. See if you can apply some of these lessons to your adult life.

1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Even when there’s not a prize in the bottom of the box.

Studies show that children who eat breakfast do better in school. It doesn’t take much further thought to know that adults will feel better and perform better at work as well. Researchers believe that eating first thing in the morning may help to stabilize blood sugar levels, which regulate appetite and energy. They suggest people who eat breakfast are less likely to be hungry during the rest of the day and are, therefore, less likely to overeat. So, tomorrow morning, remember that eating a healthy breakfast is the best way to start off your day, and be good to yourself by eating a healthy one.

2. Homework blows. Bring work home with you and it’ll ruin your night. And your marriage. And your family. And your life.

Don’t bring work home. If you are overloaded and don’t have enough time at work to do what is expected, talk to your supervisor to resolve the problem. Home should be your relaxation zone, not another workplace. Make sure you separate work and leisure time in your head – so that work doesn’t spill over into your fun. Even simple things like changing out of your work clothes and having a shower when you get home, or going to the gym after work can help you shake off the working day.

3. The only way to know how something works is to completely disassemble it. (This is still good advice when tackling a complex problem. Your plasma TV? Not so much).

Hard problem? Break it down! Writing a book seems daunting, so start by doing an essay. If an essay is too much, start by writing a paragraph summary. The important thing is to have something done right away. Once you have something, you can judge it more accurately and understand the problem better. It’s also much easier to improve something that already exists than to work at a blank page. If your paragraph goes well, then maybe it can grow into an essay and then into a book, little by little, a perfectly reasonable piece of writing all the way through.

4. There’s a reason they don’t give credit cards to 8-year-olds. You’re supposed to save up money before you buy a new toy.

Managing your money is an important life skill that few of us were ever taught. But it’s never too late to learn. Taking control of your money means knowing where it’s going. It’s all too easy to let your money fritter away without any real sense of what you’re spending. The key is to sit down and work it out. It’s a good idea to write down your spending, then you can review it and see where you could manage money better.

5. Asking questions is how you figure things out. Lots and lots of questions.

Why are taller buildings better? What is the purpose of curbs? Ask anything that comes to mind, and ponder the possible answers. Our brains are wired to be curious. As we grow up and “mature” many of us stifle or deny our natural curiosity. Let yourself be curious! Wonder to yourself about why things are happening. Ask someone in the know. The best way to exercise our curiosity is by asking “Why?” Make it a new habit to ask “why?” at least 10 times a day. Your brain will be happier and you will be amazed at how many opportunities and solutions will show up in your life and work.

6. The coolest adults were the ones who took the time to listen to you. You still want to grow up to be a cool adult, right?

When you’re feeling stressed, have had a particularly difficult day, or are facing a crisis, the ear of a supportive friend can be a lifeline to peace. A genuinely good listener is actually more rare than one would think, and also more valuable. Sometimes people feign listening, but they’re really just waiting for their friend to stop talking so they can say whatever they’ve been mentally rehearsing while they’ve been pretending to listen. People can usually sense this, and it doesn’t feel good. Learn how to be a truly supportive listener, and you may find yourself surrounded by others who are able to do the same.

7. Your body was designed for throwing baseballs, shooting hoops, and jumping off diving boards and stuff. In the secret language of children, the word “fitness” doesn’t exist. It’s called “having fun.”

Everything can be a game. Why slog through the same workout routines in boredom, when you can add a little fun? Make up rules, shoot for personal records, regain your competitive spirit. No fear, no self-doubts, no negative self talk, no self-criticism, no worries, no destructive anxieties or thoughts of failure. To a child, he/she can do anything. And do you know what? They’re right.

8. Playtime is important and laughter feels good.

We get so caught up in work, chores and a host of “have-to’s” that we forget to take time for ourselves. Not only does relaxing and regrouping make life worthwhile, it has real health benefits. Most of all, it will help you stay consistent and motivated. Kids also seem to inherently know that laughter can ease blood pressure, help your brain function, give you energy, and help you reach your goals. Smiling and enjoying yourself can be serious help.

9. Too much of anything will give you a tummy ache. Like, say, bourbon.

Those who over-exercise will burn themselves out. Those who site sedately all day suffer from atrophy. A boy who studies all the time has no friends. Another who only makes friends fails in his examinations. Staying too long under the sun can result in heatstroke and sunburn. Not going out at all makes the skin pale and pallid. Sharpening at all will render the knife useless. Being extreme is always the cause of pain. Moderation, then is the key of life. It is the way to live our lives as it is meant to be lived.

10. Try to be the friend you were when you were 12: fun-loving and loyal, with no strings attached.

The quality that tops the list in survey after survey of what people appreciate most about their friends is loyalty — support that you always give to someone because of your feelings of duty and love towards them. The famous maxim that “a friend in need is a friend indeed” is not the entire story of loyalty, however. A friend in triumph may be even harder to find. It takes twenty-four-karat loyalty for a friend to soar alongside us when we are flying high rather than to bring us down to earth. Loyal friends not only lend a hand when you’re in need; they applaud your successes and cheer you on without envy when you prosper. Be loyal.

When you act more like a kid, suddenly the world opens up, and you start enjoying yourself again!
10 Big Lessons from Little Kids

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