Nurturing Your Inner Child
Two men who met in college remained good friends through the years. One became a urologist, the other a space shuttle astronaut. Their families frequently visited each other and thoroughly enjoyed their time together.
During one parting, when the astronaut’s toddler son couldn’t bear to leave the tree house, zip line, affectionate puppy dog and four kid playmates, he went into a mini-meltdown. The entire time his mom was trying to buckle him into his car seat, the child was kicking, screaming and flailing his arms.
Instead of trying to squelch Mikey’s frantic attempt to stay, his mother totally validated his feelings while maintaining her position of a responsible parent.
“Never give up, Mikey!” she said as she eventually managed to secure her son’s seat belt and evade his churning legs and arms. “Never give up!” Just as she treasured her husband’s dedication to exploration and pushing the envelope, she valued and nurtured that same drive in her children.
It’s that child-like sense of passion, curiosity, wonder and discovery that’s the difference between living a rich life and existing. Children are bold, inquisitive, friendly, forgiving and non-judgmental. They’re also mindfully living in the present. About 90 seconds after the astronaut’s car pulled out of his friend’s driveway, Mikey’s hysterical outburst gave way to delightedly staring at the horses grazing in a nearby pasture. He had emotionally “moved on,” and found something else to pique his curiosity and imagination.
Each time we pause to focus our attention on something new or ask a question, we “grow” our brain. By age 3, the time when virtually everything is a new experience for a toddler, the brain reaches 80% of its adult size. By age 5, the percentage climbs to 90%.
Science now understands that this brain growth, or “neuroplasticity,” doesn’t have to slow down or stop. People who continue to explore, question, discover and use their imagination will continue to develop their brains.
Bruce Lipton, PhD, an environmental biologist, coined the term “epigenetics,” or “above genetics,” to describe how embarking on new adventures, working to solve challenging questions and tapping into our passion and creativity can keep our brains flourishing.
To nourish your inner child and rekindle that natural quest to explore, try a few of these suggestions:
- Take a class . Learning a new language, or exploring medieval history, for instance, will activate completely different parts of your brain. Your heart will appreciate the adventure, too.
- Go outside and play . Blow bubbles. Stick your bare toes in a creek. Fly a kite. Climb a tree, or just hug one. Being in nature grows your brain while it soothes your soul.
- Get artsy . Music, painting, sculpting, dance – all creative pursuits nourish body, mind and spirit.
- Ask “Why?” Just for a day, as you go through your life, notice the patterns and start to ask yourself exactly WHY you’re doing things the way you’re doing them. Be relentless – just like a two-year-old would be. Don’t stop asking “Why” until you’ve imagined several new and more efficient ways to accomplish the same tasks.
- Travel . Whether it’s an afternoon excursion to a local historical spot, or epic globe-trotting, getting off the beaten path will open up whole new worlds of discovery.
- Laugh! Children laugh about 300 times a day. This universal language of connection, delight and release actually makes your brain spurt out “happy chemicals” that heal and calm. Best of all, it’s highly contagious.
Explore, laugh, discover, ask a million questions and get answers, and unconditional support and encouragement, at OHI missions in San Diego and Austin, Texas. Our caring team can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.