We were all children at some point in our lives and that kid didn’t just up and leave the moment you became the responsible adult you are today. They’re still a part of you and we should learn to embrace them. Why? We shall see in a bit.
But first let us quickly see the definition of “Inner Child”
Too many adults have lost their childlike spirit. If you can harness and embrace your inner child, you will likely be a happier, more satisfied adult.
Reason 1 — To Imagine & Create
With the limitations of an archaic educational system born from the industrial revolution, global economic disruption, rising wealth and social equality in emerging markets and the technological advances of today, an ability to be creative and imaginative is critical, if you are to take advantage of the opportunities that are all around you.
Children possess a natural instinct to be creative, but this incredibly valuable ability is suppressed during adulting, as we seek to “conform” to a more “mature” state of being.
An ability to rethink and relearn what we have already learnt is key.
In 1968, George Land conducted a study to test the creativity of 1,600 children (three-to-five years old) who were enrolled in a Head Start program. This was based on the same creativity test he’d designed for NASA to help select innovative engineers and scientists.
He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age, and again at 15 years of age. These were the results.
Land concluded, “it is not that children lose the ability to be creative, but that it is taught out of them”.
How To Get Creativity Back:
1 — Reject the fallacy that you are “either born with creativity or you are not”. All humans are born with creativity, you just haven’t practiced it in a while, so start by believing that you can.
All great things start with a belief that it can be done. A child falls over 100 times before it walks, and never once does it say to itself that it can’t.
2 —Follow Your Curiosities — James Webb Young defines ideas as merely the ability for one to be able to take on information and find relationships between many separate parts. Use a journal, planner or notes on your phone to capture the information you discover each day. You can’t see it now perhaps, but everything you’re witnessing, hearing and experiencing will lead towards an idea or an ‘Aha moment!’ — write it all down.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my lifeSteve Jobs
3 — Time & Space — The reason we’re conditioned to suppress our creativity is due to two types of thinking: divergent (imagination and new ideas) and convergent (judgements and criticising).
They are totally opposed to each other. George Land refers to one being an accelerator (divergent) and one being a brake (convergent).
Make time and find a safe place where you can free yourself of judgement and criticism to allow your mind to wander. Just like how a gym is used to build your fitness and muscles, you need to allocate time and energy to train the brain.
Reason 2 —To Learn New Things
As children, the human brain is very plastic and malleable to new information. Therefore, their ability to learn is greatly enhanced in relation to an adult brain.
As neuroscientist Takao Hensch from Harvard University observes, this is for evolutionary reasons. If the brain is constantly being rewired due to new experiences, it will fail at being the super-processing computer that it is.
Studies show that by our mid-20’s our brains begin to set like plaster but there are ways to recover neuroplasticity and maintain our ability to learn new things.
How To Get Brain Plasticity Back:
Senior Lecturer at MIT and neuroscientist, Tara Swart, recommends constantly stimulating your brain or setting yourself “energy intensive” challenges.
“[Look for challenges that require] conscious decision making, complex problem solving, memorising complex concepts, planning, strategising, self-reflection, exercising self-control and willpower.”
Swart goes on to highlight that repetition and practice are essential components for new neuropathways to be created, “Depending on the complexity of the activity, [experiments have required] 144 days or even three months for a new brain map, equal in complexity to an old one, to be created in the motor cortex.”
1 — Commit to an 8 month plan, not just 30 days.
Studies show that it takes, on average, 66 days to form a new habit, but depending on the individual it can take anywhere from 18 to 245 days.
Define the why you’re doing something (not the what) and write down the benefits of the outcome clearly before starting — this will become your motivation.
2 — Start simple
Something important to you is definitely worth working on but make it practical and feasible. Allocate 30 minutes every day or every other day to work on it (set reminders!).
It’s taken you at least 25 years to get to this point, you won’t change in one week. Keep it simple and repeatable.
3 — Form a Trigger or Get an Accountability Buddy or Both!
Remember, repetition and practice are essential. Creating triggers will help remind you to make the time and energy towards the change you want. Put up a daily action list on your fridge, your wardrobe, your phone wallpaper. We are what we repeatedly do!
Research shows that you’re also 70% more likely to complete a goal when you write a weekly update to a friend or associate about how you’re progressing. Ask a friend, family member or a likeminded soul you’ve met on Twitter or Reddit to help out.
Reason 3 — To Discover New Gifts, Passions & Potential
Children have an incredible gift to be curious and follow their wonder of the world around whatever grabs their interest.
Adults conversely like to understand a logic or reasoning before allowing their mind to wander. Our desire to understand before we attempt, comes from a place of fear more than they come from a place of amazement.
Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.Socrates
How To Get Your Sense of Wonder Back:
1 — Surround yourself with the amazing things people have achieved and consider why.
Why did they start?
Why did they create the things they’ve created?
Why project their curiosity as a piece of art, a book, a study, a school of thought.
People have done some extraordinary things and we live in an extraordinarily diverse society — embrace it!
2 — Travel: Go To New Places
It’s a cliche, I know, but new sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain.
Foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.Adam Galinsky, professor at Columbia Business School
Visit a place with a different culture, don’t just visit a different country.
3 — Follow your Interests & Speak With Likeminded People
Sounds simple, but there are so many people who will get up tomorrow and continue doing the same things they’ve done for the last 5 years, that are mundane and boring to them. You may even know someone exactly like this.
It is, unfortunately, a common occurrence but it can be beaten. First, use the minds of others to help nurture your understanding and shape what actually interests you about the topic.
The feeling of being interested can act as a kind of neurological signal, directing us to fruitful areas of inquiry.
Learn to embrace your inner child and you will be a much more satisfied adult.
Living a life full of wonder, appreciation for the small things, humor, kindness, resilience, and big dreams is exactly what your inner child would want you to do.