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  • Writer's pictureCarla Allison, CHHP

Act Like a Child

Have you ever noticed how often children laugh and find humor in what seems to be the smallest things? And who doesn't find a child's deep belly laugh contagious? Children live in the moment. Their faces light up with curiosity examining an unusual bug they discover when playing outside, and they squeal with delight simply jumping through a water sprinkler. They thrive on playing games and pretending. When they take off running, they let their little legs run free and without any self-consciousness. Children have often been referred to as little rays of sunshine as they can quickly bring a smile to your face with their giggles and innocent expressions.

As adults, we often lose our inner sunshine. We lose our ability to see the humor in many situations and instead, easily become annoyed. We may find that we don't laugh near as much as we used to. In our daily rush, we may no longer pay attention to the small wonders of the world such as the incredible symphony of the birds singing, the trees gently letting go of the autumn leaves in colors of orange, gold, and crimson, or the cotton candy sky of a gorgeous sunset. We just stop noticing.

Stressors and traumas of life can lead to a chronic stress response in the limbic part of the brain which in turn, makes it difficult to access positive emotions and gratitude. One way to tap back into that is to act like a child. Start seeing the world through a child's eyes again. This will help stimulate feel-good neurochemistry in the brain and bathe the entire body in healing chemicals of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. This "dose" chemistry is necessary for the body to settle back into a balanced state of growth and repair. Just smiling can begin to turn the parasympathetic switch on, and laughter triggers an impressive release of these dose chemicals while reducing stress hormones.

What are some ways you can act like a child and find your inner sunshine again?

1) Reframe situations to find the humor when possible. You come home and your dogs have shredded tissue from one end of the house to the other. You have a big mess to clean up. Your first inclination is to feel angry and annoyed. But then you notice one of the dogs looking at you with the tissue box still in his mouth. He has been caught red-pawed! You suddenly burst into laughter. And it feels good. It feels so much better than being angry. You realize that in the grand scheme of things, it's just a whoopsie daisy!

How would a child react? A child would be amused by the situation and likely burst into giggles!

2) Be curious. Open your eyes wide to your surroundings. Be aware and engage all of your senses. What are you seeing, hearing, tasting, and smelling? Ask questions. Let your mind be filled with wonder. Inspect that acorn you find on the ground with its top still intact while on a forest walk, then look it up to see what kind of acorn it is. Curiosity opens up a whole new world.

How are children curious? Children ask thousands of questions about the things they see, hear, feel, taste, and smell which sparks learning, imagination and creativity.

3) Play! When was the last time you went outside to play? Swung on a swing? Played a game? Twirled and danced around a room laughing? Talked or sang in a silly voice? Even mundane tasks can be turned into a game to make them more fun. Pretend and be creative. In your mind, you can be anywhere or anything.

How do children play? Children are carefree. They aren't concerned about how silly they look or sound. They just play and have fun! They use their imagination and pretend to be anything they want.

4) Get excited about life! Start your day expecting it to be amazing and full of interesting opportunities. Seize every moment to bring energy and passion.

How are children excited about life? Children can get excited about anything. Every activity is a new adventure, and they love opportunities that give them a chance to explore. They bring energy and passion to much of what they do.

Think about how you can incorporate these simple lessons from children into your day. See how it begins to help your brain and body begin to relax more into feelings of joy and gratitude. Rediscover your inner sunshine!


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