I was thinking of the contrasts I see observing my granddaughters, and my eye was caught by an article on the difference in the number of laughs per day of a 4 year old versus those of a 40 year old. This article, and several others suggest almost a two order of magnitude difference – 300 laughs at 4 years versus 4 laughs a day at 40 years. While I find it hard to believe that the average 4 year old laughs 300 times on an average day, I would believe that there is an order of magnitude difference – that is that a child laughs ten times more often than a mature adult.
But there are other contrasts that also come to mind as I observe and interact with my granddaughters that seem to highlight the differences between young and “mature.” Not only do the young laugh more, they laugh longer and harder. Another difference is the level of enthusiasm of youth, which I commented on in reference to my granddaughters, here. I would like to show the same enthusiasm for those activities I have decided to invest my time and money in – those things I deem important in reference to my limited resources, as is demonstrated in youth upon receiving presents.
Then there is a wonder in youth, the ability to be surprised or even amazed at the things we mature folk accept as normal or even take for granted. The wonder maintains and increases the level of interest, which magnifies the return gained from the efforts and experiences that prompt the wonder. I could use more wonder in my life. I need to remind myself not to take so many important things for granted – from my health to the love and partnership of my wife.
Then there is an innocence in youth. The young don’t worry about so many “important” things, like the huge national debt, or rogue powers gaining nuclear weapons. For so many of these things, we mature ones can’t really impact or change them, so does it really serve us to worry about them? Some suggest that innocence is really the most attractive characteristic of a child, one of the reasons that children are so beautiful.
Something that I would say goes hand in hand with innocence, is curiosity. I want to have more of a desire for the investigation and learning of a child, even if it is in reference to mature subjects.
It would seem that many of these characteristics of youth could be summed up with the French term, joie de vivre, or joy of life. I would define it as a relaxed and spontaneous enjoyment of life, life to the fullest. Isn’t what we all want? What can you do to increase your laughter, enthusiasm, wonder, innocence and curiosity?
Thanks for the image, from http://www.perfectlyflawedandgracefullycalled.com/2012/09/05/preserving-innocence-a-moms-most-important-job/