By Michael Darling
I'd give all wealth that years have piled,
We’re having our Grandkids spend the night this weekend…and in observing the dynamics of them, I’m convinced that if you spend a little time with children, or just observing them, you might learn a few lessons that could help your health. I’m fascinated and a little intimidated by the level of curiosity and energy these little creatures have. (Ok, I’m also intimidated by the 4 year old that handles an I-Phone better than I do…but that’s fodder for another column.)
Children have certain natural instincts, which all too often are derailed pretty quickly by the "elders" around them. I will be the first to agree that there are times when the derailing is necessary, but I DO think there are a few instances where it pays to be more like a child:
Keep on movin'. “These kids today, they’re always movin’ around….!” Children in general are in constant motion. All you have to do is just watch in amazement. Were we like that once? As they transition to young adults, unfortunately, too many take on our sedentary habits, which is even more prevalent with the video game rage and I-Phones. This inactivity goes into high gear in adolescent years, something called the "adolescent slump". It affects girls more than boys, I was surprised to find, and all too often it’s the start of a couch potato life. So…the lesson here is to add more movement to your everyday life. Act young to stay young.
Know when you're full. Young children rarely overeat unless they are force-fed by “caring” adults. Infants stop when their bellies are full and so do preschoolers. They eat when they are hungry and stop when they’re not. They are eating for hunger, not for other reasons such as boredom, anxiety or stress. As with activity patterns, they pretty quickly pick up our bad nutrition habits- but with a little work, that doesn't have to happen. Eat right, and for the right reasons. Yes, easier said than done, for sure.
Early to bed, early to rise. I have to think that Benjamin Franklin's famous quote must have come from his observing kids. Most of us adults don't get enough sleep, nor do we get high quality sleep. Admittedly, that’s partially BECAUSE of kids in our lives, but we're learning more and more about the negative health consequences of too little or too much sleep. Even though it turns out to be one third of your life, eight hours is just about right for most of us. Sleep like a baby- and I don't mean waking up every 2-3 hours crying and curling into a fetal position! (Work on that stress.) In terms of your health, if you don't snooze, you lose, so snooze!
Let it go. Kids do get angry, upset and/or sad all the time. Sometimes extremely so. But in a few minutes they are on to something else, usually more pleasant. They emote, get over it, and move on. Learn to live in the present, with your eye on the future of course. Use the past to visit fond memories and also to shape the present or future- but don't dwell on negative past, it will take you down emotionally, and ultimately, physically.
Bob Dylan once said/sang "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now". Perhaps he was contemplating the innate wisdom of his youth. Of course, perhaps he was just stoned at the time too…but my point is this:
Find your inner child, and let him or her out a little more often. You just might feel the difference. That’s not a bad thing, right?
Time for my nap. Thanks for reading.