Do you remember the days when the world seemed like a canvas of endless possibilities? When every little thing sparked a sense of wonder, and affection was as easy to give as a smile? As children, we approached life with open arms and hearts, eager to explore, learn, and connect. But as we grow up, that vivid curiosity and easy affection often seem to dim. Why does this happen, and more importantly, can we reignite that childlike wonder as adults? Let’s dive into this, shall we?
The Gradual Shift from Wonder to Worry
As kids, our days were often spent in a state of blissful discovery. The philosopher Plato once said, “Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.” Indeed, as children, we were all little philosophers, trying to understand the world one question at a time.
But as we age, the societal expectations begin to pile up. We’re taught to focus on building a career, maintaining social norms, and managing the daily grind. The poet William Wordsworth wrote about this transition beautifully, saying, “The Child is father of the Man; And I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety.” Wordsworth laments the loss of childlike joy as we transition into the seriousness of adulthood.
The Weight of ‘Adulting’
Adult life comes with a suitcase full of responsibilities. We’re often so busy ‘adulting’ that we forget to live. We trade our curiosity for efficiency and our affection for pragmatism. Our priorities shift, and the time we once spent exploring the world and nurturing relationships is now consumed by deadlines and commitments.
The Science Behind the Change
Neuroscience tells us that as we age, our brain’s neuroplasticity—its ability to rewire itself—diminishes. This doesn’t mean we lose the ability to learn or feel, but our brains become more efficient, favoring familiar patterns and routines. This can make us less open to new experiences and less likely to engage with the world with the same openness as we did when we were young.
The Cost of Cynicism
There’s a certain allure to cynicism in adulthood. It’s often seen as a sign of intelligence or sophistication. But at what cost? Cynicism can close doors to new relationships and experiences. It can make us guarded and reluctant to show affection. As the writer Oscar Wilde once quipped, “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” We must ask ourselves if the price of our cynicism is worth the things we lose in the process.
The Flickers of Childhood Within Us
Despite the layers of adulthood, the essence of our childhood selves remains within us. It’s in the way a certain song can transport us back in time, or how the first snowfall of the year can fill us with excitement. These moments are reminders that our capacity for wonder and affection is not lost, just buried under the hustle and bustle of adult life.
Rekindling the Flame of Curiosity
So, how do we rekindle our curiosity? It starts with giving ourselves permission to be curious. It’s about asking questions, seeking out new experiences, and allowing ourselves to be fascinated by the world around us. As the writer Roald Dahl once said, “The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” We must be willing to look for them.
Cultivating Affection in Adulthood
Affection in adulthood can be more complex than the unconditional love we offered as children. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. It’s about making a conscious effort to connect with others, to be kind, and to express our feelings. It’s about finding the courage to be vulnerable and to give affection not because it’s expected, but because it’s a genuine expression of ourselves.
Balancing Wonder with Wisdom
Embracing our childlike wonder doesn’t mean shirking our responsibilities or abandoning wisdom. It’s about finding balance. It’s about approaching life with the same enthusiasm and openness as a child, while using the knowledge and experience we’ve gained as adults to guide us.
The Role of Mindfulness
Mindfulness can be a powerful tool in rediscovering our innate curiosity and affection. It’s about being present in the moment and fully engaging with our experiences. When we’re mindful, we’re more likely to notice the beauty around us and to appreciate the connections we have with others.
The Power of Play
Play isn’t just for kids. It’s a vital part of human happiness at any age. Engaging in play can reignite our creativity, help us see problems in new ways, and foster connections with others. As the saying goes, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
The Impact on Our Lives
When we allow ourselves to embrace curiosity and affection, we enrich our lives. We build stronger relationships, we’re more creative, and we’re generally happier. We also set an example for others, showing that it’s possible to live a life full of wonder, no matter our age.
Growing up doesn’t have to mean growing out of our capacity for wonder and affection. It’s about learning to navigate the complexities of adult life while holding onto the qualities that once made every day a new discovery. It’s about allowing ourselves to be curious, to care deeply, and to express affection freely. So, let’s dust off that old sense of wonder and look at the world with fresh eyes. Who knows what we might discover?
In the end, we might just find that the world is just as magical as it was when we were kids—we just have to be willing to see it.