5 Childhood Habits I Take for Granted

photo by Austin Mackay, Instagram @austin.mackay

photo by Austin Mackay, Instagram @austin.mackay

“We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” - George Bernard Shaw

The older I get, the more complex I seem to make things. I get really analytical. I examine. I research. I use rationality. I conceptualize. I consume information.

Why? Maybe for the credentials. I want to look good and sound smart. I don’t want to embarrass myself. It helps to give me meaning and purpose. If I’m not reading a book, listening to a new podcast, or watching another TED talk, I’m falling behind. Right?

There is a price to pay for the choices and actions we make every day. The cost of focusing on building up an ego? For me it’s unnecessary stress, anxiety, and tension

There was a time when I just went and did things, without reading why they were beneficial. It just felt natural. There was a certain level of content with everything. Time was on my side, and I had an entire life ahead of me. Well, I still have life ahead of me, and so do you.

These are the five things I did as a child that helped keep me full of thriving well-being. They will continue to add to my health, and hopefully they can add to yours too.

I could have added scientific benefits, cite research, and get your prefrontal cortex all hot, and excited. Except that’s getting away from the point. The point is simplicity, and to guide us back to our natural selves.

Move Constantly

Crawl. Walk. Run. Sprint. Climb. Jump. I did this all in multiple directions, and varying intensities. All these movements in the forest, grass, sandboxes, rocks, fields, playgrounds. I walked my dog, biked, roller bladed, swam, skated, played soccer, basketball, baseball, tag, hide and seek, and probably some random games I made up I no longer remember. There were no excuses. It all just seemed to happen so naturally.

Play Outside

I craved this. The outdoors was so vast, open, and new. There was always something new to discover. Inside was lame. You could only hide in so many places. And tag? Running into a wall and stubbing a toe on the coffee table was not fun. Forts built in the forest were so much better than blankets over my couch (that always seemed to fall on my head). My skin would feel the earth, sun, air, and water. Fluorescent lighting for 14 hours a day, filled with Netflix and social media until falling asleep was not a thing.

Laugh A Lot

Seriously. Literally. Come on. Get your life together. Figure it out. Think about what you said. Why did I say that? I’m such an idiot. My life is so stressful. When will I ever catch a break?

We take ourselves way too seriously. I know I do. It’s partially why I was so hesitant to put my words out into the world — I was so in my head about what good it was really going to do me or anyone who read it. Relax. Just go for it. Stay curious. Use your imagination. Laugh at yourself. And enjoy good company as often as you can.

"Seriously, just relax."

Get Your Hands Dirty

Creativity was manifested everywhere. Painting, building sand castles, helping my mom garden, playing with worms, running through the yard with my bare feet, building a real life pod-racer with Wal-Mart snowboards, making a race car with my GT racer in the garage, making race tracks in my back yard in the middle of winter. As embarrassing as they are to share, they all happened.

Imagine What’s Possible

NHL player, fire fighter, pilot, race car driver, artist.

These were some of the types of people I imagined myself growing up to become. Having these dreams allowed me to express myself in unique, and novel ways. I didn't become any of these roles, but I was able to identify myself with the types of actions these people would carry out. 

I think of the question sport psychologist Mike Gervais had the Seattle Seahawks ask themselves frequently back in 2014 when they won the Super Bowl. "What's possible?" From here, he would help players and coaches move from seeking the moment, to being the moment.

Having these dreams gave me the space to actively be the moment, and practice the behaviours of these sorts of people. I was imaging what was possible - and that's where the beauty lies. 

So now I ask myself, "What am I doing today to truly express myself?" Who cares what the label is? Do it for yourself.

Let’s not wait for science to catch up on what we already know make us healthy and happy. 

Thank you for reading my article. I hope you found it helpful or at least thought-provoking. If this post did help you, consider sharing it with someone you think it would help too.