Parents’ path to true happiness? Embrace your inner child

Parents sometimes can spend so much time thinking about being adults that they forget the wonders of holding a soft fleece blanket, or creating a castle out of Play-Doh. Perhaps the key to true happiness can be found when you embrace your inner child.

Steve Bloom/The Olympian/AP
You're never too old to blow a giant soap bubble, as demonstrated perfectly by Gita Moulton, who creates a soap bubble in Olympia, Wash., on March 20, 2012. Parents sometimes can spend so much time thinking about being adults, they forget to embrace their inner child.

My children make me happy for many reasons, of course. But it strikes me that one reason that they make me happy is that they encourage me to engage more deeply with the physical world.

Left to my own instincts, I’d drift absent-mindedly through the apartment, reading, writing, and eating cereal for dinner every night. Through my daughters, I become much more alive to ordinary pleasures – the comfort of our weirdly soft fleece blanket, the vanishing sweetness of cotton candy, the textures and colors of the Play-Doh, scented markers, and velvety pipe cleaners left scattered around the kitchen.

I’m trying to push myself to enter more deeply into childish pleasures. I love blowing bubbles, but I haven’t blown bubbles in a long time. I delight in looking at new boxes of Crayons and Magic Markers, but I almost never do any coloring myself. I’ve never used our cunning set of animal stamps.

I do make good use of food dye and sprinkles, however. I use any excuse to pull out our food dye! We have a giant box of sprinkles, colored markers that work on food, sugar crystals, rainbow nonpareils, and the like.

I get so much pleasure from turning vanilla yogurt into a rainbow confection that I’m trying to be more aware of other opportunities to enjoy childish pleasures.

How about you? What childish pleasures do you enjoy, or wish you took the time to enjoy? Skate-boarding, jump-roping, shooting hoops, playing jacks? A forty-something friend told me that whenever she and her three sisters get together, they play Four-Square. It made me so happy just to hear that.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Gretchen Rubin blogsat The Happiness Project.

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