The joys of childhood are endless, especially when you consider that children are armed with the greatest gift in the world-imagination. In an article from last year, I talked about the way my children were navigating through the various stages of childhood. Months later, it’s amazing to see how they have grown. My youngest son no longer eats the remote control. He’s swapped that behavior for pretend phone calls using an old cell phone case. My middle child is establishing his independence and if given the chance will wander fearlessly into anything-he likes to pretend that the tree and grass in front of our home are really a part of the tropical rain forest. My oldest son loves to dance and often imagines that he is one of the dancers in the Dance Central 3 video game-he even dresses for the part!
Regardless of their aging, for now, one thing remains consistent: their willingness to use their extremely active imaginations. With all of the high tech electronic devices to which they generally have access, from game systems to tablets, to smart phones, to computers, my little boys still find enjoyment in playing with a cardboard box. Yes, a cardboard box! And I know this same thing to be true for many other kids. I’ve seen that cardboard box transform into anything from a car, to a space ship, to a house, or an oddly shaped pet cat. It’s quite amazing, when you really think of it.
Sadly, as we get older, we often detach from the things in ourselves that allow us that kind of inhibition. As we watch young people play, we remember the times when we felt that free to have fun. We wonder when we lost that ability. While it’s not feasible for adults to completely resume childlike exploration, there are definitely a few valuable lessons that we can take from the cardboard box experience.
Everything doesn’t always need to be so complex.
Sometimes we unwittingly make things far more complicated than they need to be. We all know someone who is guilty of this (including myself). My weakness is birthday parties. For my youngest child’s first birthday, I literally turned my home in to Gabba Land. All the kids wanted to do was…well, play with a cardboard box. As my band instructor Mr. Strother used to say, “KISS it. Keep it simple silly.”
Find joy in the little things.
There are always going to be the big rocks and hurdles in life. Try focusing on the simple things that bring you joy-a hug from your mom, a kiss from your little one, a bowl of chocolate ice cream
Have fun no matter where you are and play like no one is watching.
Why? Because life is just easier when you toss in a little bit of fun. And the best fun is the kind that is spontaneous and easy and free.
So the next time you find yourself stuck in the rut that can sometimes come along with adulthood, think about the joy you either knew in childhood or the joy you experience now as you witness the free-flowing imagination in the children you know. Then run directly to the nearest cardboard box and pretend it’s a space ship.
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please contact The Stone Foundation by clicking here, or by phone at 410-296-2004.
Melissa Brooks-Cuffee holds two Bachelor of Science degrees from Towson University: one in Psychology, the other in English. She has sustained memberships with both the Psi Chi and Lambda Iota Tau honor fraternities, and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore. Melissa also volunteers with E-buddies.
Over the last several years, Melissa has assumed various administrative roles within the healthcare and mental healthcare field. She demonstrates her strong desire to help those in need by offering quality care and compassion to the population she so fervently serves. At present, Melissa maintains the positions of Administrative Assistant and Online Marketing Specialist at The Stone Foundation. She is also a featured writer for The Stone Foundation’s Weekly Wisdom Online Publication and creates the visual content posted to The Stone Foundation’s Facebook Page.