Why aren’t we more childlike in our approach to health and fitness?
Mention the word “children,” and many images immediately come to mind: stains on clothes, a messy room, plates of unfinished food strewn all over, wailing and crying—rather unpleasant images. There are also many adages across cultures about how society views children—“They are best seen, not heard” and its many variations—and what this boils down to is that children’s ideas and voices are rarely, if ever, given weight. They are among the most marginalized segments in terms of power and influence.
Butmoving past that “common sense” idea of children, one can eventually see that, because of their simplistic world view, children may actually have a thing or two to teach us adults. And while this is not a philosophical treatise, it may do us well to ponder what kids have modeled for us that we can use in our health and fitness journey.
A sense of wonder
By nature, children are curious creatures. They will ask questions (to an almost infuriating degree, some say) until they find the answer. They will look through books, ask many adults and authority figures (not really being intimidated by the positions these elders have), talk to their peers, and in today’s tech-savvy world, are likely to dig up online resources.
Let’s be childlike and ask about any and all claims, especially when they can seriously affect our health. Why does your product say that? How can you promise that? Is there actual scientific research to back your claim? Who else can I talk to about this? Can I get feedback from those who’ve used it? What does my doctor think of it? Be relentless in your curiosity.
An ‘I’ll try that’ mentality
As adults, it’s easy to think that we are particular “types” of personalities: we are either aloof, sociable, introverted, have an appetite for risk, boring and safe, emotional, prone to analysis, etc. Look through any magazine—or even any Facebook quiz—and you’ll be told which house in the Harry Potter universe you belong to, or which Avenger you are.
Be childlike and say “Hey, let’s give that a go” and this can be anything—trying out a new mind-body class, joining social clubs that promote a sport you never thought of trying, or simply sampling what the local health food store has to offer. You may surprise yourself with your own version of durian or dinuguan which you will end up liking.
Be relentless in achieving goals
Children seem to have a built-in “I don’t take ‘No’ for an answer” device implanted in them. This observation becomes true the moment you decide to prohibit them from doing something or going someplace.
The idea here is to be childlike in our mentality: okay, there’s a roadblock, how can I go around that? It becomes a wellspring of creativity and resourcefulness, and if there’s anything I’ve learned in all my years in the fitness industry, there is a need to be creative, to think unconventionally, and to make do when excuses and obstacles pile up, if we are to be successful in achieving our health and fitness goals.
Be more childlike, and you may surprise yourself with how much more fulfilling the fitness journey can be. One only needs to hear the news of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg (now being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize for her political activism), who refused to accept our adult complacency about the climate change crisis we are all headed for, to know that in the end, just maybe, it will be the young ones who will lead the way and show us a better path.
Illustration courtesy of Mitzi Villavecer.