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Natural Awakenings

Kids Teach Us Joy

Jul 29, 2011 11:54AM ● By Carolyn Rubenstein

Children daily teach us many lessons about the joys of life.

If you’re not good at something, do it again. Kids often do many things badly at first. They fall off their bikes. They stumble in races. They try to hop on one foot, but can’t. They sing off key. It goes on and on. Yet, they usually don’t cry about their initial failures. If any- thing, they laugh them off. They enjoy the process of failing. And because they keep trying, they get better and eventually even good at many things.

If you feel like crying, do it. As adults, we tend to hide our tears and try not to cry at all. This causes sadness and tension to linger longer. When kids are sad or frustrated, they scream and cry and bang their little fists and stomp their feet on the floor. Then, once they’ve had a good, cathartic moment, they recover with a smile and are ready to face the world again.

Make up your own dance moves. Have you ever put on a Kidz Bop CD and watched a roomful of 4-year-olds react? It’s an amazing experience. The kids jump and hop and shimmy without a care in the world as to what they look like. They don’t worry about perfecting the latest dance moves; they just move their bodies in ways that feel good to them—and they enjoy every minute of it.

Hug your friends. Kids love to hug. They offer kisses easily. They snuggle and generally express themselves easily through touch. As adults, we can learn a lot from their openness.

Wonder why, about everything. As adults, we tend to take the world around us for granted. We are so used to things being a certain way that we no longer question them. Children, though, are more curious. They want to know: Why do flowers grow in one place and not in another? What’s at the center of the Earth? Why do leaves change colors? The world delights and awes them on a daily basis. It can do the same for us, too, as long as we allow ourselves to remain curious about the wonders all around us.

Carolyn Rubenstein is the author of
Perseverance, a clinical psychology Ph.D. student at Harvard University, and the founding president of a nonprofit that funds scholarships for young adult cancer survivors (

What Children Teach Us About Hope
There is something about the way a young child sees the world that can make us believe in anything at all. Children seem to believe in miracles even before they happen. They believe that if they wish for something hard enough it will come true. Children have hope that when they blow on a dandelion or see the first star at night, their wishes will come true. Children know in their hearts that if they find a four-leaf clover they will have good luck. They put faith in the results of blowing out all the candles, with one breath. Don’t stop believing just because there are more candles to blow out.


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