When did you stop playing and imagining? Is it because you have to do this thing called “adulting” now? Chances are you still stick your tongue out at annoying folks with their stupid rules when they’re not looking — or at least, you do it in your mind.

All those stuck-up manners, rules and curfews made you wonder why all the rules mattered growing up. While rules and their counterparts do help you get through the day, they hinder your continued growth in other ways.

As a child, you had a special type of freedom, and what you dreamed felt possible instead of feeling like “that would be nice.”

The good news is that you can revive your inner child and all the beautiful traits that go along with it. Don’t let consequence and responsibility serve as the only forces that drive you to move forward in life and make decisions.

Age is a number, and here are five life lessons your five-year-old self can teach you.

1. Come to Life With Curiosity

Why is the sky blue? Why doesn’t the sun come up at night? Why do you have to go to bed now?

Find a child, and you’ll discover hundreds of questions about “why” and “how.” Kids want to know how stuff in life works. Don’t let that eagerness for knowledge and experience die in you. Come to life with curiosity, and in wonder, you’ll find awe in the world again.

Wake up your kid-detective on the inside, and use curiosity to get to know more about what life offers. You still have people to meet and places to see. Go to that restaurant that piqued your interest, and explore the new park down the road. When you’re curious, you’re never stuck.

2. Stop Dreading Aging

Aging in youth comes in milestones that make life exciting and quick. You could only do certain things when you arrived at a certain age, like wearing makeup, going to theme parks, driving and having your first beer. You got excited about the prospect and wanted to make the most out of your experience.

So when did you stop celebrating and anticipating? When did you start coming to every birthday with dread? Why dread the anniversary of your coming into the world? You always have a purpose, and possibilities exist where love thrives.

Life goes on. At age 30, you may get your first home, and by 50, your job or passions may take you traveling across the world. You could start the business and live the life you dreamed of, and if that dream changed, change with it.

Get over yourself — instead of dwelling on mistakes — to get on with yourself.

3. Believe in Enchantment

So Santa was your drunk uncle, and the enchanted forest had poison ivy. You still unwrapped your presents and stuffed your face. Like she was the good witch of the enchanted forest, your grandma showed you how the leaves of the jewelweed plant, growing next to the poison ivy, could calm the itch when crushed and applied to the skin.

Don’t stop imagining.

Your wild stories began on the playground, and there’s a reason you still swing on the swing set when no one is looking. Deep down, you still dream.

As a child, free play encouraged you to think outside the box, and it can still do that. When work boggles you, get up and run around. Do something to shake up your stuck brain. Free play also taught you how to collaborate and socialize with others. Don’t stop dreaming.

There’s still much about the world that humans don’t know about, and aliens could invade any day. You never know. Lead with “What if?”

4. Just Dive In

Remember that time you cannonballed right into the pool and made a big splash? What about hanging from the monkey bars and going for the next even though you thought you wouldn’t make it? Kids dive right in and live in the present.

While it’s wise to consider your health, life still goes by too quickly, and you enjoy it more when you have fun. Forget about looking silly, and just dive in.

5. Listen to Your Body and STOP

Kids are energy-efficient. Adults often talk about having that energy again and what they’d do with it, but now, adults push themselves farther than they should.

All you’re doing wrong is misusing your energy, and sadly, the adult world has majorly unrealistic expectations for the body, especially at work.

As kids, you would stop when you got hungry, thirsty or tired. You’d take a nap, wake up and keep dreaming. You may have groaned about chores, but you had more energy to get them done and do them in spurts.

It takes exhausting effort to mentally and physically push through some tasks, and other adults in the world act like this problem doesn’t exist at all. When those internal alarm bells go off, you risk burnout in work and life and can go home grumpy. Your boss shames you, and then you get to deal with the additional stress at home. The process continues, and it makes no one feel good.

Be part of the change. Listen to your body’s battery. Yes, everyone has a different battery capacity, and society needs to understand that.

Change begins with taking action, and action is motivated by your perspective. It’s all connected. So awaken your inner child and look at the fascinating world around you. Poke it a bit. Don’t let the world happen to you anymore. Happen to it.

Jennifer Landis

Jennifer Landis

Jennifer Landis is a wife, mom, writer, and healthy living blogger. She enjoys longs walks around the block with her toddler, prefers tea over coffee, and eats way too much peanut butter. You can find more from Jennifer on her blog, Mindfulness Mama or follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis

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