When immersed in play, children enjoy taking risks and challenging themselves physically and mentally. Children are always searching for the limit of their current potential and are motivated to push that potential to achieve a goal. Some children are more adventurous than others and motivate the children who are playing alongside to stretch their own boundaries.
Adults can learn a fresh perspective from children about risk and reward. Children at play clearly see the rewards of trying something new. If an idea does not work the first time, children dust themselves off and try again. As adults become older they lose the ability to see the reward in taking risks, some adults more than others. The reason is safety. As adults, we have more responsibility and with responsibility we develop a fear of losing something or missing out on what we think life should be like. Our fears influence our behavior. How can we open our mind and our potential by pushing more boundaries in life?
The opportunity for adults to stretch into new boundaries is a combination of choosing to live in the moment more often, choosing how we view the events of life, and choosing how we approach activities we think are beyond our ability. Author and lecturer Tal Ben-Shahar has published positive psychology books including “Happier” and “The Pursuit of Perfect.” In these books he shares practices we can embrace to create more happiness and fulfillment in life, while pushing the boundaries we have set for ourselves.
The moment we are in currently is where true meaning lives. Children know this very well, as the actions we view in children like being spontaneous, working with great energy and immersing themselves in work quickly are a testament to being in the moment. Adults are often looking away from the moment analyzing what might happen or what others may think of us and ignoring the journey of now. Tal Ben-Shahar has said our happiness, “Loves the moment. It is like climbing a mountain and not worrying about the top but enjoying the journey there.” The amount of time we are present during the day correlates to what we gain from these experiences.
The events of life pass by each moment of the day and include the interactions we have with other people, places and things. These events are influenced by many factors that are in and out of our control. How we approach daily events shapes the rewards that come from experience. All events are neutral therefore we get to choose what the event becomes by how we embrace the possibilities before us.
Children view current events as opportunities to go on an adventure and we can return to that joyful place with some practice. Author Joseph Campbell in “The Pathway to Bliss” talked about embracing the moment saying, ”We should leave the known and venture into the unknown to find the treasure in ourselves.” By embracing the moment we open up our world to the unknown and expand the boundaries of what is possible. We can see more clearly the opportunities that might otherwise pass by when we live away from our center of experience.
Children will try almost anything. They have a great curiosity for life and want to experience new adventures. Children are comfortable moving past boundaries because they value the possibility the experience has to offer. Adults, often find difficulty in embracing new activities in our lives. We are comfortable with our routine. We do not like making mistakes. We feel safe with our current existence and see no benefit to trying new ways of doing things. To push new boundaries in life and move forward adults need to be more like children and try almost anything. We may not like all of the new things we try, but our life will be more enriched and satisfying by participating in the experience. It has been said that most of our success is achieved by showing up. Trying new activities and learning from the experience is mostly about being there and doing it.
We are not creating a perfect existence we are creating a work of art, one that has twists and turns, spills and thrills, opportunities and setbacks. If we choose to approach our work like children approach play we will benefit and feel more connected to our daily adventures. We will feel more hope and brightness to our day and look forward to our work with the children with a new sense of purpose and drive. What the children give to us in inspiration we can give back to them and the world in service as we perform our practice as co-learners with children.
What new activities would you like to try and embrace the unknown?
How will these activities push the boundaries of your current existence?