What Can a Child Teach us About Happiness?
From the moment a toddler begins stringing words together, he or she will begin a persistent inquiry of the world around them. Their favorite question is of course – why? They must know why they are going to bed, why they have to eat that, why do we have to wear clothes, and on and on. In fact, an inquisitive child is often referred to as a very bright one and is described as cheerful the majority of the time.
Kids are simply curious. Adults – not so much. Studies show that as we age, we tend to become less interested in the whys and hows in life that amount to a steady decrease in curiosity over the years. Guess what else declines along with our curiosity?
Happiness. It appears as if that enthusiasm for learning about our world is a necessary ingredient in the dish of a healthy and happy life.
If you examine other factors that dry up with age, you will find that our interest in trying new things and demonstrating an open mind in general plummet over a lifetime. I don’t mean to imply we will all end up looking like the characters on “Grumpy Old Men” but if you don’t make a concerted effort otherwise, you just might.
Studies support many brain benefits in maintaining a high level of curiosity over your lifespan. That translates to stronger physical health as well as enhanced mental health. Apparently, seeking knowledge and new experiences sets us up for efficient mental processing and social connections as Todd Kashdan, professor of psychology at George Mason University, explains in his book entitled Curious?
Another great benefit of curiosity is the protective benefit it offers against depression and anxiety. It makes sense if you follow the logic. The most anxiety provoking moments of a new experience are just before you begin and quickly taper off. If you push yourself to try something new, draw upon some of your own previous accomplishments for reassurance first. Then once you walk into that new class and see a friendly face, join a gym or volunteer with a community organization, you will most likely leave with new memories and an excitement for future opportunities. That very attempt to step out in the unknown and soak up a little more of what life has to offer will at least give you more to talk about the next time you’re around a kid.
What stirs your enthusiasm for novel foods, drinks, people, locations, and experiences?
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