I was having one of those mornings.
I was making my daughter’s packed lunch while coaxing her to get dressed. My 2-year old was hanging off my leg, complaining at the top of his voice.
Nobody was listening to me. For the umpteenth time, I told my daughter to get ready for school.
She peered up at me (my daughter can always sense my moods).
“Don’t worry, Mommy,” she said. “We have plenty of time, let’s play a game first.”
I took a deep breath, fighting to find some inner calm. My daughter was right.
We did have time. We didn’t need to leave the house for another 40 minutes.
We settled on the floor and devoted the next 20 minutes to building Lego castles. Even my youngest cheerfully joined in. Once we were done, my daughter took herself upstairs and got ready for school.
We teach our kids everything. It starts with learning how to walk and to talk. As they grow older, we teach them how to function in this crazy world we live in.
What we sometimes forget is that our kids can also teach us.
We’re born with some essential human instincts which allow us to interact with the world and experience joy. As we grow into adulthood, we lose touch with these instincts.
When we work from home, it’s easy to forget what makes life worth living. We’re too busy keeping it together. We lose sight of what it really means to succeed at life.
Luckily our children can help us remember. Here’re five important life lessons my kids are teaching me…
Life Lesson 1: Living in The Moment
Kids know how to enjoy life. And one of their greatest skills is living in the moment.
My daughter finds joy in everything… a full moon, a weird-looking bug, a beautiful flower, an unusual sound. These things cause her to stop and explore. She instinctively knows how to let go and seize the moment.
I don’t find it so easy. My mind is dwelling on what needs to be done next. The idea of dropping everything to appreciate the present doesn’t occur to me.
Until my daughter reminds me. And I’m so grateful she’s there to do so.
When I stop and notice the small stuff, life becomes more beautiful. Each day I discover unexpected pleasures, surprise laughter, and new experiences. All of which I’d miss out on if I didn’t surrender to the moment.
Life Lesson 2: Slowing Down
Before we can live in the moment, we need to slow down.
When we rush through life, our minds fixed on our to-do list. We fail to see what’s around us. We miss out on life’s pleasures: a stunning view, the funny thing our kid said, a chance to let go and be silly.
Whereas, when we slow down, our problems slip away. We make space in our life for what matters. Life becomes less stressful and more peaceful. Slowing down is a lesson I’m still learning. Yet I know it’s a skill worth mastering.
You can’t rush kids. The more you try, the harder they’ll resist your efforts. Any parent who has tried to get multiple kids dressed, fed, and in the car knows what I’m talking about.
This is a good thing. Having kids forces you to take life at a slower pace. And when you slow down, you notice the moments which bring happiness and meaning.
Life Lesson 3: The Power of Imagination
My kids have fewer toys than many of their friends. But I still think they have way too many. The games they like best require nothing more than imagination (and maybe a few props).
Some of my kids’ favorite games are:
- Building forts out of blankets and sofa cushions.
- Being dragged around in a box (pretending it’s a car or a boat or a space rocket).
- Hide and seek.
- Lava monsters (a family game that involves a lot of chasing and jumping on furniture).
- Dressing up in Mommy’s clothes.
- Multiple variations of tag.
- Tree climbing.
- Collecting items in nature.
The list goes on. And I’m sure your kids are the same.
Children know happiness doesn’t come from things (though they are just as susceptible to advertising as the rest of us). They instinctively understand that joy is inside us.
All it takes is a little imagination and the willingness to let go.
Life Lesson 4: Growing as a Journey
Humans are engineered to grow and learn. Babies know this… they spend hours learning to roll. When they master rolling they obsess over crawling. Soon after crawling, they fixate on walking.
Babies don’t let fear of failure stop them. They keep trying until they conquer the new skill. And when they get there, they move onto the next.
Older kids also immerse themselves in learning. My daughter loses herself in drawing and writing. She doesn’t notice time passing. She’s following her passion. The end goal may be the driving force, but the process of getting there fulfills her.
We’re intended to keep growing. When we focus solely on the end goal, we miss out on so much. We rush towards the finishing line, failing to appreciate the journey we’re on. Then, once we achieve it, we feel empty. We need a new goal. A bigger, and better one.
It doesn’t need to be this way. If we immerse ourselves in the process of learning, we discover the joy of savoring the journey.
Life Lesson 5: Selfless Love
This last life lesson is different. Where the other lessons are things our children know and practice, this last one is something they cannot know. Yet it’s something only they can teach us.
Through our children, we learn how to love selflessly. With the kind of love that puts someone else first. A love without jealousy, competition, manipulation, and greed. A love which grows bigger each day.
For me, the art of selfless love is the most important life lesson of all. It brings me incredible joy and makes every moment with my kids all the more precious.
What Are Your Kids Teaching You?
These are the beautiful yet important life lessons I’m learning from my children: living in the moment, slowing down, living with less, growing as a journey, and loving selflessly.
Your lessons may be different. But I’m certain your children are teaching you a thing or two about how to be happy.
While you build up your business or start a new project, remember what matters most in life. And when you forget, look to your kids. They are sure to remind you what it means to find joy in the world.
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