I have had the pleasure of interacting with children quite a lot in the past few weeks. As I spent time with each one of these special beings – my nephews and children of some good friends – I found myself laughing with them as they took joy from doing simple things.
My two-year old nephew came to visit and we were sitting outside in our garden. Recently, my partner had bought me a huge, bright green clay frog which we put in one of our plant pots. For my nephew, this frog was quite scary – admittedly, it does have quite evil looking eyes - and he would give the pot a wide berth every time he walked passed it. He would, however, wave and say “froggie”, eyeing it warily. Eventually, he took my hand and made me stroke the “froggie”, placing his own, tiny, perfect little hand on mine. Finally plucking up some courage, my nephew tentatively let go of my hand and stroked the “froggie”. The glee he felt in touching the “froggie” was a delight to behold!
My other nephew, also two years old, was playing with a hosepipe, squealing with pure excitement every time his uncle turned the tap off and on. We all watched on, laughing with him, as he ran around the garden letting water spray all over him. There was almost a palpable air of immense relief between all of us adults as, for a short while, we could simply just BE and enjoy the moment.
Yesterday, we met up with some good friends at the local botanical gardens. A huge tortoise walked passed us and all the children started to follow him, the youngest one, every now and then, giving the tortoise a pat on its hard shell. The look on her face showed how thrilled and fascinated she was by this magnificent creature.
Last week a very special family was coming for tea. They were bringing their cute little daughter and granddaughter and I was inspired to buy the most luminous-coloured fairy cakes for her. I had fun buying them and she had fun handing them out to each one of us, carefully choosing the colours she felt most suited us. She made sure we ate ours (while she hung onto her ones!), singing joyfully at the top of her voice. That evening we all experienced moments of hilarity, innocence and joy that only a carefree child can give.
What I noticed, after each of these interactions, was how much lighter and more joyful I felt. Each of these little souls showed me how to laugh freely, to find the joy in very simple things that we tend to take for granted. Children know how to bring magic into their lives by living in the moment, enjoying what is happening to them as they explore the world around them.
What I learnt, after these delightful moments of “childish” experiences, was that if we look at the world through the eyes of the children, we too will experience the magic of this world, the simple but pure beauty of what is happening around us.
What these experiences taught me, short-lived that they were, that joyful moments can be taken from very simple moments – we just have to wake up, smell the roses and choose to notice these moments. By choosing to live in the moment, we are choosing to engage in these moments as well.
I was also reminded of two of my values – playfulness and ordinariness. I am reminded that I take life too seriously, more times than I care for and that instead, I could find playfulness all around me simply by being fascinated by the huge green “scary” frog that lives in my garden or watching the slow, wise movements of a huge tortoise. I could choose to change the ordinary moments into extra-ordinary moments. The benefits of doing so are tremendous – I feel happier, grounded and more connected with the universe.
We tend to get lost in the need to search more and more for things that could bring us joy, forgetting that joy, oftentimes, can be found right in front of us – in the form of a child laughing, a flower blossoming, a butterfly on the breeze. All we need to do is stop, allow ourselves to engage with the moment and then observe what is happening around us. I assure you – there is a magical world awaiting you. Choose to find the joy and enjoy it.