Smile at a nearly newborn baby and they smile back. Laugh and their laughter ensues. In fact, very little is required to evoke a joyful response in a baby. Our joyful nature simply begins at a very early age. But can it be sustained in adulthood?
Neotany is the technical term used in psychology to refer to “the retention of youthful attitudes and behaviors into later adulthood.” Psychologists say we may very well have reached a trend of not growing up at all in adulthood. This is because today those who are 25 to 26 years of age are still undertaking post-secondary or post-graduate education. They have delayed joining the work force and becoming responsible financially. Prior generations did not enjoy that luxury. They were forced to become responsible adults at a much younger age.
Regardless of your age, however, there are tools to return to a youthful state of mind. Watching the movie Christopher Robin may assist you in doing so. In the movie, Christopher becomes an adult workaholic who has forgotten to take time to play. Pooh reminds him of such simply wonderful things as puzzles, board games and balloons. Pooh also shows him that “doing nothing” might be a strategy for getting away from work, as in Pooh’s words, “it always leads to the very best of something. “
Beyond the movie, here are some additional ideas to remember your joyful nature:
• Get in touch with your creative side. Try painting, drawing or writing as an outlet for your stresses. Seeing yourself as a creative person allows you to become creative in your work endeavors, as well. This can turn a boring job into one that is more fun.
• Reexamine your passions. Rethink the happiest times in your childhood. Are you doing any of those things now? If not, why not? Your passions can include dancing, cooking, flying toy airplanes, traveling to yet unexperienced places, reading adventurous books, or riding bicycles. Whatever your passion is, doing it will assist you in remembering your joyful nature.
• Think of new ideas to generate joy. Perhaps you have done knitting and crocheting but have never tried needlepoint. Maybe you have been a cook but never tried your skills as a pastry chef. New ideas give you a necessary spark of life, causing you to look forward to the future. Pursuing one new idea might lead to many others.
• Have an attitude of gratitude. Being thankful for what you are doing and have been able to do triggers feelings of joy. It simply sets the proper tone for each day you are alive.
There are a number of ways to remember your joyful nature. Begin by remembering your earliest years as a child, when you were carefree. Explore your passions and reunite with your creative self. Be prepared to try new things and be thankful for all that you did and can do. Doing these things will inspire joy for you throughout all your life.