“Oh how happy to be 3 or 4;
Oh well, Angie’s not much more.”
These were the two last lines in a song written by my uncle when I was – yes – 3 or 4. My niece Gillian just turned 4 years old and when I called to see how the new age was going for her, she explained to me that “it’s much better than 3”. Oh how happy.
I’m going to digress and regress a little right now and go back to being four.
Always a Wonder or Happiness is Swimming
Remember when everything was cool and new? When we didn’t have to know everything already, and pretend ‘oh yeah, I’ve seen something like that before, I’m sure’ all the time. I love when people are brave enough to be filled with wonder at something different or new to them. When you’re four, you just assume that all the stuff going on in the world (except for being three) is new and exciting. And something to put a fair amount of your emotional excitement and energy into.
Like swimming. Watch kids swim (for fun) and you’ll see that there is nothing more thrilling – splashing and diving, sputtering and laughing. Time really goes by when you’re having fun. Part of this is because there is a natural time distortion that happens when you get involved and the subconscious takes over. This is why parents watching the pool can’t understand the cries of “is it time to go home ALREADY?’ even when the relative amount of lifetime in an afternoon is much greater for a 4-year-old than for an adult.
Take a moment – it might not be swimming, but think about the times when you were 4 or so… When was the last time you were so excited and involved in something that time slipped by? Is there something in it now? Is there some way that you can get back to that feeling? What gives you that feeling now? Can you make a link?
“But I’m not 4.” You may protest that youthful exuberance just doesn’t have a place in the adult working world. Pigtails and lollipops might be frowned upon in your work environment, true, but there are advantages to it.
When you get so involved in the wonder of an activity, you stop ‘thinking’ – about how you look while doing it, how you might not be able to do it well, about the time it is taking from other things, of whether or not you’ll remember something. So you tend to learn more quickly, associate it better to the rest of your life, and enjoy it more at the same time. This is thanks to the subconscious mind that we hook into so easily when we get emotionally involved in something. We often complain about not being able to learn as quickly as we could when we were young. Why don’t we take a page from the book of four, and learn funner (sic) and quicker by getting involved and excited.
Through the Eyes of a Child (or Supporting Your Own Inner Four Year Old)
What do you Want to Be when you Grow Up? If you are in a space that isn’t where you want to be (but you actually are a grown-up already), maybe it’s time to revisit your own latent four-year-old. Just imagine even a moment in time when you were younger, happier, and ________er (you’ll have to fill in your own blank there). You don’t have to get career advice from your inner minor, but take a moment and allow your subconscious to drift back to the high times of your younger days. There may be gems of wonder that you can incorporate into your life right now.
It’s not a bad idea to take your inner 4-year-old out for a treat now and again. You might discover some lost desires or ideas, and spending mental time with your own happy-day 4-year-old can be an inexpensive facelift.
And if you need someone to make your face light up and your heart shine, I know a wonderful 4-year-old you could talk to.
Happy Birthday to all the real as well as ‘experienced’ 4-year-olds. I hear five might even be better…