Mental Health Healing Man

Living in the Present Moment: Lessons We Can Learn From Kids

When we consider ways to become more focused on today and to be mindful of the present, sometimes we make things more complicated than they need to be: we follow a routine, scheduling in guided meditation exercises and making lists to keep us on task. However, a big part of staying present-minded when in the present day is simplifying and embracing minimalism. On that note, there are many lessons about present-focused living that we can learn from the youngest members of our society, whose minds haven’t yet been bogged down by the complex formalities that adulthood often brings with it: children. What can we learn from following the example of a child?

Lesson #1: Don’t let anxiety interfere with your creative impulse.

When children are first given arts and crafts to create with, seldom do they stop and fret over what to do. More often than not, kids dive in with gusto, allowing the impulse of the moment to take over and create itself. When you are struggling with creativity, try letting go rather than fighting back. Let your mind go tabula rasa and allow what comes to come. No matter what you are trying to create, taking the approach that you are just a child with a set of finger paints can help reduce anxiety and boost creativity.

Lesson #2: Exude empathy without calculating costs and rewards.

Although children are notorious for being self-focused, there is a certain stage of development where that self-centered nature expresses itself as empathy—being able to put oneself in another person’s proverbial shoes. When children express their empathy (for example, by saying, “aw, are you okay?” to a peer who fell and skinned her knee), they don’t stop to think about the risks and benefits of being empathetic. For them, it’s more of a second-nature reaction. The next time you feel empathetic toward someone, express it freely! Don’t worry about the consequences. After all, the world could use more empathy and less cold calculation.

Lesson #3: Feel your emotions in the moment.

I’m not advising people to go around having emotional outbursts on a whim—but instead of stuffing your feelings down to be dealt with at a more convenient future time (which generally never comes), allow yourself to feel them, without any shame or attempts to block them. If you are angry, feel angry. Don’t hit anyone, but feel the anger. When you are happy, let your joy move through you as it happens. If you are sad, don’t push the sorrow away or try to turn it into something else. You can control how you express your emotions, but don’t try to put reins on how you feel them. Let it happen in the moment, and embrace feeling your feelings as part of present-focused living.