As a kid, when I became an adult, I saw myself as a cool guy, who wore awesome clothes, stayed up late, wrote amazing stories and created stuff, and ate lots of cookies. And oddly enough, I kinda turned into that guy. (I’ve got the dental visits to prove it). Yet, in a society that tells us don’t daydream and that artists starve, we let that kid go silent. But it takes a conscious effort to learn to dream again. That cool adult we always saw ourselves as is still in us, but it’s a process. We waver and veer and amongst all the hustle and bustle of life, we forget to listen to that kid-- that kid who used to want to be an train conductor or ballerina or who used to eat potato chips and mustard or who used to wear red socks and sandals (and, yes, this was all me at one time, and I do mean all…). Evolution is a beautiful thing, but don’t forget to be that kid’s dream come true. Here’s how:
Follow your own fashion rules. I love the way kids dress. Little girls will pair their favorite striped tights with their glittery Mary Janes and a polka dot dress. Little boys will wear their favorite pair of superhero sneakers, mismatched socks, goggles, and their most comfortable overalls to church, school, play, and to bed if you let them. They wear what they like, and their concept of "matching" is pretty loose. You don't need to start dressing like a crazy lady or that guy with the who doesn’t know winter from summer, but do let your personal preferences for color and shape win out over what "everyone else" is wearing.
Go outside and play. What we were doing for all those hours when adults instructed us to "go outside and play?" I was playing a game called make-believe, imagining I was a king or an astronaut or the President. (Is it any wonder I am an actor now?) Find room for the natural world in your daily routine, like sinking your fingers into rich garden dirt or just popping out for a walk during your lunch break.
Play "make believe." Make believe was always a necessary element of my life. Being a dreamer is actually one of my greatest inspirations. Do something to boost your imagination! Community theater, a sewing class, or even trying out new recipes or taking a new route to work can give you just what you need in the world of make believe. It's just about breaking out of your day in, day out routine and thinking outside the predictable box. A kid would turn that box into a fort; maybe you should, too.
Live by your kid conscience. Kids really have an indignant sense of right and wrong; they respect the social order that keeps life humming along in a civilized way. They stand in line, raise their hands, say please and thank you. Unless you were the school bully, your eight-year-old self wouldn't cut someone off in traffic, stiff the waitress, or revel in rudeness. If you live your life by the rules of your younger self, chances are pretty good you'll be doing the right thing, acting with dignity, honor, and politesse.
Do what you love. “Kids know how to have fun. They live in the moment and have recreation built into their lives. They play soccer and take ballet. They get lost in books and take time to finger paint, all because it's fun and because they love it. Consult what you loved as a kid. Maybe it still resonates with you today, or maybe you need to take up the adult version. Find time for that passion, that sense of delight and play.” (McColl, 2010)
Believe in magic. Kids have an infectious sense of wonder at the world. They seem equally delighted by caterpillars and Santa Claus. Can you suspend your jaded seen-it-all-on-a-reality-show attitude to marvel at a bouquet of fragrant roses or the sense that maybe, just maybe, there's something grand at work in the Universe? People change the world; when you were a kid, you wanted to be part of that. Summon that eight-year-old scrappy self-confidence and remember that you wanted to be a part of making the world just a little bit of a better place.