At least a few times a month someone reminds me that even though I’m an established professional with a full-time job, I sometimes can be just like a kid. Is my inner child showing too much?

I believe that’s mostly because I’m very often simply excited about what’s in front of me. And, overall, just have a high level of energy (as anyone around me will, maybe with a slight sense of regret, attest to.) No wonder “Zest” is one of my top 3 character strengths!

Channeling your inner child can be so freeing

Fortunately, I don’t see being kid-like as a bad quality at all. In fact, don’t we all get a little bit too caught up in living “the adult life”? Don’t we act a bit too serious, so others will have a positive image of us as a responsible and age-appropriate grown-up?

In the pursuit of happiness, do you remember how you approached things differently when you were 15 or 20 years younger? Based on decades of research, here are five lessons from kids we could all embrace:

Inner Child

5 ways to free your inner child

  1. Live in the here and now.
    Young children have the innate ability to start every day anew. To shed themselves of the experiences and impressions of yesterday, wholeheartedly throwing themselves into all the adventures today may bring.
  2. Love to learn
    They approach everything they learn with the same sense of marvel and curiosity. With a drive for discovery and their heart wide open, they keep repeating small actions to first-handedly understand more of the world around them. From throwing a rock in the water to see its effect, to endless games of find-and-seek.
  3. Never stop playing
    While it’s tempting to always think we advance by working hard, children show us that play can be a tremendously powerful catalyst for development. It’s in playing like a child, where the biggest discoveries are made, and where we find the answers to problems we wouldn’t solve by just repeatedly trying to break our heads over it.
  4. Take a nap
    It’s astounding how resting and breathing can seemingly solve your problems within minutes. And yet when the pressure is on, we rarely do either. When we see children getting exhausted, our instinct is to tell them to slow down a bit, unwind, and get some rest. Yet, we rarely tell ourselves this.
  5. Let people know when enough is enough
    When’s the last time you said NO to someone? Well, kids know the power of (silent, or at times, not so silent) protest. Know your boundaries, and let others know about them.

What would my 5 year-old self do?

So the next time you are overwhelmed, tired, un-inspired. Or find yourself in any other situation where our adult ways don’t seem to apply. Take a breath and think: what would my 5 year old self do?


Author Daan van Rossum Daan is Bright’s founder and a certified Life Coach. Having lived on 3 continents, he’s been studying cross-cultural happiness for a number of years. Daan’s speciality is around positivity, understanding your life goals, entrepreneurship and creativity. Daan lives between Da Lat and Saigon, but his heart is always in the mountains. Besides his Bright jobs and his work as a freelance brand strategist, his most important job is that of husband to his wife My.

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