Ah, the good ole days. The light-up shoes, the Lunchables, the ability to judge if someone was cool or not based on how they wore their backpack. It was a much simpler time. It was a time filled with predetermined play-dates and hours upon hours of Nickelodeon. So. Much. Nickelodeon. Literally, all the Nickelodeon. There was no fear of securing your next paycheck, no stress regarding the traffic during your daily commute, and certainly no time wasted debating whether or not to superficially swipe right or left. But, hey, time stops for no one. Eventually, adult life takes its course. Its laundry-filled, grocery shopping, alarm-setting course.
And that’s not a bad thing. Perhaps surprising at first as the real world can be a Stanley Milgram type of shock – but that’s not bad. In some ways that’s exciting, even needed, dare I say. Growing up encourages greater independence, resilience, responsibility, and an illogical urge to watch documentaries (It’s like I turned twenty-one and had a sudden craving for history). Yes, being an adult certainly has its perks.
Spontaneous traveling, no curfews, reckless spending, 401k’s, alcohol, unwarranted authority, alcohol, freedom, choosing your friends, alcohol, being invited to weddings, voting, various phases (such as, but not limited to, the following your dream phase, the enjoying single life phase, the looking for a relationship phase, the just got broken up with and enjoying single life (again) phase, the I’m deleting my social media accounts phase, the trying to act younger than you are phase, etc.), alcohol…And the list goes on.
If there’s a lot to love about life, then why are so many unhappy?
Well, please take a step back because I’m about to drop some knowledge.
A longitudinal Harvard study conducted by my boy George Vaillant began to shed light on this question. The study, which took place over a timeline of 75 years (good god), involved surveying and interviewing 268 Harvard students (classes 1939-1944) in regard to their mental and physical health, financial situations, career enjoyment, and marital happiness. This study uncovered two key findings:
1. Meaningful relationships (aka love) equals happiness
2. Alcohol is bad
OK, sure, but what about something a little more relevant?
Fast forward to present day. A 2015 survey (that’s what year it is now) involving this same class suggests that you can be happy if you focus on three components:
1. Doing what you enjoy
2. Keeping your friends close
3. Taking care of yourself
Embrace your inner child. Seriously.
We don’t need psychologists or scientists or that weird racist old guy who starts talking to you in line to tell us how to live a happy life. We already know. We’ve already been there.
Personally, it pains me to see adults who take life too seriously. It makes me want to barf quite honestly. This is where so much unhappiness is rooted. Think about it. – or don’t, because I did the thinking for you. What we loved so much about our childhood days was the lightheartedness, the freedom to experiment and learn on the fly, the spontaneity, the learning that was associated with each situation, the relationships.
I’m not saying that, we, as adults should be going around eating Play-Doh or getting grass stains on all of our clothes. But, maybe that is what I’m saying.
There’s a devastating stigma attached to adulthood that screams, “You can’t have fun!”
I am very strongly against that sentiment. I’m more against that than I am against people who say goodbye and then end up walking the same way as you.
Want to be happy? Here’s how to show your inner child.
1. Whistle while you work. In other words, make monotonous moments exciting. When I was younger and had to do chores, I vividly remember creating songs in my head about the tedious tasks to pass the time (sound clips not attached). Get creative. Don’t be boring. Make your work fun.
2. Don’t go to the principal’s office. You’re not on “Desperate Housewives” (that’s a show, right?) Act accordingly. When we were kids we didn’t give care about what was going on around us. Our biggest conflicts involved comparing our lunches with one another (Snack Packs for days). There wasn’t Twitter, Facebook, or even texting. What we take for granted now may actually be the root of our anxiety and stress. Being oblivious isn’t the way to go, but it’s important to channel the younger version of you in certain situations, don’t get caught up in the B.S.
3. Make a play-date. Our lives get busy. I’m the first to admit that I haven’t done as well as I would have hoped when it comes to keeping in touch with those I care about. As we grow, so does our social network. But does having more “friends” correlate with increased happiness? Reflect on your time as a child. You most likely had a few close friends, not an Internet full (unless you were the most popular preschooler ever). Keep the ones who matter close.
4. Open a box of Legos. Not a joke. When I was a kid Legos were my go-to toy (three cheers for gender stereotypes). My point is, whenever I would need a break, whenever I would need to step away from what I was doing, whenever I had a few minutes to spare, I would play with Legos. Now, Legos have been replaced by writing, reading, eating French Toast. Choose a hobby and commit to it. Don’t be afraid to take breaks and take time to yourself when needed.
5. Flush things down the toilet. It’s funny until your parents find out. Who didn’t flush at least one thing down the toilet as a child? How else would you figure out where it led? A secret cave? China? The “Friends” set? IDK. Don’t actually flush things down the toilet as an adult. That would be so awful. However, DO take risks and show curiosity. DO feel free to explore a thought. DO take an action even if you are unsure of the consequences. Sometimes it’s OK to ask for forgiveness afterwards.
6. Take a shower with your socks on. This clearly wasn’t my brightest moment as a child. But I was just doing me. I was living in the moment – sometimes it’s a must. It seems that so often the responsibilities of being an adult overtake the innocent qualities of being happy. Our most ecstatic moments are quickly flooded with thoughts over what’s going on the next day of work or when the next payment is due. Once in a while you have to take a shower with your socks on and say, “eff it.”
So, what’s it going to be? I think they still sell Capri Suns…