A few weeks ago, as I was riding the train home from work, I glanced up to see none other than Santa Claus himself step into my car. The man had clearly just ended a long shift at the mall, but I was impressed with his demeanor as he sat among gawking passengers. He was carrying a string of bells, which he gaily shook to the tune of “Jingle Bells” until he reached his stop. As adult passengers entered the car, they asked him about his reindeer and Mrs. Claus; he faithfully stayed in character throughout these conversations.
What surprised me most about this incident wasn’t the man dressed in crimson garb. No, I was genuinely shocked to see each and every person on the train simply giddy with delight from this encounter. If you live in a city with a subway system, you know this universal truth: passengers generally stare somberly ahead, rarely making eye contact with their neighbors. It was unexpected yet pleasant to see these adults so excited at the sight of a perennial childhood figure, and I was left to wonder how important it is that we stay in touch with our childlike wonder. With that in mind, here are some ways to embrace your inner child.
For me, nothing captures the painfully magnificent feelings of childhood quite like memories. Whenever I visit home, I’m at once filled with a strange mix of warmth and sadness; suddenly, sights, smells, and sounds are heightened, and I’m transported back to my adolescence. Nostalgia is the perfect way to tune into those raw feelings of excitement, dread, and anticipation.
2. Try a new activity.
So many of our childlike impulses are built around movement. If you’re looking to channel your inner ten-year-old, why not try a new form of movement? You might not be a natural, but the point of this exercise is to evoke a sense of novelty. It doesn’t matter what you try: skateboarding, ballet, gymnastics, and even ice skating are all activities that can help you break free from the confines of an adult mindset.
3. Spend time with children.
This might seem like an obvious tip, but its impact cannot be underestimated. Even if you aren’t a parent yourself, making an effort to invest time with youngsters is an amazing insight into your own temperament. While we take the mundane for granted, children approach everything with curiosity and unadulterated honesty. While we might approach life’s challenges with cynicism, children hold no preconceived grudges against people or things.
4. Let go of judgment–for yourself and others.
I think that many of us hold a desire–maybe even a propensity–to embrace our inner child, but we hold back due to fear of judgment from ourselves and others. But if everyone is fearing judgment and no one is acting on their natural inclinations, most people will be oblivious of this universal desire to befriend our inner child. It’s important that you act on your own impulses while ignoring those who are simply too afraid to do the same.
5. Spend time with supportive people.
Although it is important to be in touch with your own inner child, it is helpful to surround yourself with people who have similar intentions. Since I started dating my boyfriend, who unabashedly approaches most everything with childlike wonder, I have become much more attuned to my own inner child. I now take more interest in silly things and express gratitude for the simple pleasures in my life.
How do you embrace your inner child?
Related: 6 Ways to Add Whimsy to Your Life
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Photo: Molly Lansdowne