Spending time with children is great in all sorts of ways. They are usually natural optimists, they seem to find it much easier than adults to ‘be in the moment’ and of course have a tendency to believe in magic. It’s easy to dismiss those qualities as unimportant when you are an adult, but in fact we could all learn a lot and probably live happier lives by emulating the way children approach life.
Think about the magic tricks you have seen, we all know there isn’t really any ‘magic’ but we still gasp in surprise if the trick is impressive or close at hand. Because a part of us wants to believe in magic.
And of course, we use the word magic to mean generally things that are good and special, because when special things happen it does feel like magic.
So, the trick must be to make sure that we actually see the magic that is all around us. As we grow older and go through life somehow what we see as magical initially we come to see as ordinary.
I remember once having a visitor form Gran Canaria, from my perspective she lived in a near paradise island – great climate and wonderful beaches, yet what she thought was amazing was the library in our relatively small town. She couldn’t believe the number of books that were available to borrow – essentially free reading. Not just fiction but lots of nonfiction and reference books and even magazines and DVD’s she said she thought it was ‘magic. That kind of sums it up, she was a woman who loved reading and was a very keen zoologist so was always wanting to check out facts about a wide variety of species she was studying. So, the library presented itself as something she wanted that she didn’t usually have – yet living in a town in England we take libraries for granted and stop seeing how wonderful they are.
But that really brings us to think about what we see as important. It is very easy to get drawn into a cycle of working to make money to buy things – nothing wrong with that BUT it’s easy to become oblivious to some of the dare I say it even more important things.
In the recent film version of Peter Rabbit there is a repeated scene of the cockerel welcoming the dawn with massive excitement and surprise that the sun had indeed risen again. If we see each day as a gift – which of course it is as we can never take the next day for granted – perhaps we would share some of the excitement yet often we find ourselves grumpy, full of the worries or resentment rather than pleasure at the gift of a new day.
There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child, There are seven million
Time for a change
So how do we manage to change our attitude to resemble that of a child more – ready to look for the magic that is all around us?
As with most things step one is to determine to be different, then the work starts with our thoughts and attitude. The fact is that there will always be some difficulties in life, some things that are a challenge or aspects of our life that are not going to plan. But we always have a choice, we can focus on those or we can worry about things that have happened (which usually we can’t change) or things that might happen in the future (which we can never control) OR we can learn to live in the present.
When we begin to be more in the present, it is a lot easier to find magic. Regularly practising mindfulness can help with this.
Being present in the moment letting go of what is to come or has happened allows us the pleasure of enjoying what is in the moment, the beauty of the surroundings the pleasure of food the comfort of our home, the company of friends or loved ones and even the weather, for what it is. Yet so often we find things to grumble about. But the choice is ours we can look for the good or focus on something else. We can choose to be happy in the moment, in the knowledge that the moment is all we ever really have.
A child can teach an adult three thing; to be happy for no reason, to be always curious, and to fight tirelessly for something
Being curious can also help, instead of flying off the handle when someone does or says something that might upset us it can be worth just pausing for a moment to wonder why they may have behaved that way – then the pause allows us to choose our response. We may still want to say something but sometimes we can realise if we give ourselves a minute to think that retaliating isn’t always necessary.
In essence, with the exception of people, who have serious mental health problems we can actually choose to be happy. But it is not something we do once it is something we need to do every single day, in fact repeatedly through the day, making a conscious decision to focus on the magic and be happy.